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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
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
Sail Date: December 2014
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time ... Read More
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time when there wouldn't be many children (whom we love, but we needed some quiet time), and there were only a few onboard. The staff was very friendly and helpful, responding so positively to all our requests that we felt very pampered. We wish there had been better lectures, particularly about the history (including slavery, trade and social/political developments) of the region. We loved being on the Freedom dining plan, which meant we could dine when we wanted to, without table assignment. All the logistics were great - embarkation and then leaving the ship, luggage transfer, room assignment, etc. And the spa was fantastic! Have as many services as you can, particularly the seaweed wrap and massage and the facials! They will spoil you rotten there, which is a major reason for taking a cruise, no? The entertainment was spotty - we didn't like the comedian's sense of humour in particular, but that's not to discourage anyone. The singers were good as were the orchestra and dancers in the large Arena. Contrary to other reviews, although the ship was full, we didn't find any problem with locating sun beds to lie on. We wish we could have danced more in the Atrium, but it seemed to be allocated to structured dances for those who took lessons onboard. We also wish the Black Tie evenings were made more special than by just putting on fancy clothes. In sum, we had a great time with only minor things we would have changed if we ruled the world! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room ... Read More
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room staff, as always, were excellent; the only problems I witnessed were rude guests who treat these hard working people very poorly. Dinner, I agree, now appears to be of a lower standard. Plate service rather than silver service. Portions are smaller, no doubt to save cost and waste, and they will also serve you more/extra if you so request. No one goes hungry on a cruise! Formal nights: for me 4 is not enough, I would do formal nearly every night. The number of formal/casual nights are disclosed well in advance and can be found on your own cruise personaliser Smoking: ban it, as simple as that. The smoking "area" I observed got larger everyday as the mobile chesty coffers simply moved the ash trays to different tabels. By the end of the cruise the "side area" had expanded to half way across the deck. Ban Smoking, full stop. Prior to my first cruise many years ago, I saw this event as a holiday for the elite. How wrong and naïve was I ? This latest cruise reflected it all the more. There were hundreds of "undesirables" aboard. But, that is a result of economies of scale. When a ship so large is put into service, it needs bums on seats, and so must charge a low enough cost to do so. You get what you pay for. If you want exclusivity you must pay for it. We have paid more than double the cost of this cruise in the past, and got the quality we expected. Entertainment: poor. Venues: they were good enough. Christmas Santa: P&O cant be blamed for the late shower, it was a bit of a shame but a good time was still had by all none the less. You can get rain at any time anywhere in the Caribbean. Islands: all great, but get a little repetitive. Tortola tenders, a bit of an inconvenience, but no major issue. Next time we will have the luxury of a brand new port. Tortola is a great island, lots to see and great beaches, why miss it? Many people criticised Dominica: what a shame it's a fantastic island with much to see and do. Just walking around the market was an eye opener and great entertainment in itself, and it was free!!! Flights: again you get what you pay for, on a chartered flight. If you want better service fly direct! If you must have a specific seat on a plane then you have to pay for that pleasure/luxury. This is 2015. If the cost of booking a seat was included in the initial price, ie the cost was £90 higher, you wouldn't bat an eye lid. My biggest gripe is the noise in the cabin. As with KevinML, I have experienced D level standard cabins previously, and again I got what I paid for, no complaints there. This time we had a suite. The benefits and luxury was fantastic, but it was noisy beyond belief. Never again. DO NOT GET A SUITE MIDSHIPS ON LEVEL 14. NOISE 24/7. That is not an exaggeration. Tips: well that is the same old chest nut, do you don't you. If you cancel the automatic deduction, my understanding is, the waiters and cabin staff who look after you miss out on a chunk from the "main pot". So you MUST tip them. Secondly, the automatic rate now charged is far more realistic than it once was and acceptable. Third: what is needed is for everyone to opt out of the American disease of tipping everything that moves. If no one tipped, which is used to supplement poor paid workers, then the cruise liners would be forced to pay a decent wage to these hard working people. Of course, then the cost of the cruise would increase. heyHo! That's it, great cruise, great ship, if somewhat too big, great holiday but extremely noisy suites. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We have just returned from our first P & O Ventura cruise after being told by numerous friend that we had to try it! On the whole we enjoyed the experience , from embarkation which is surprisingly run like clockwork to leaving your ... Read More
We have just returned from our first P & O Ventura cruise after being told by numerous friend that we had to try it! On the whole we enjoyed the experience , from embarkation which is surprisingly run like clockwork to leaving your bags at check in at the airport then the next time you see them is in your room - excellent . We had a deluxe cabin with balcony which is a good size , comfy bed , good shower , really nice cabin steward who couldn,t do enough for us . Against this , the TV with constant sky news as the only decent channel will eventually drive you mad , sports channel for premiership football was good , and thats about it for TV. Although the cruise price seemed good value , its only good value if you resist all the other ways P & O have of trying to part you from your money > Wi Fi at £15 - £20 per hour is ridiculous in this day and age , trips , gym sessions , massage , photos of you at every opportunity , getting on , getting off , dining , drinking , you name it , a camera was there . We enjoyed the food tremendously , the service was good , sometimes too good , plate removed as soon as my knife & fork touched the plate ! Buffet food equally as good just a shame you have to try and hunt down a table as it was so busy. Entertainment - first class , some excellent shows ! The main thing that lets this ship down is the fact that P & O are too relaxed about the dress code , the formal nights most people do make an effort, but the rest of the time ,  baseball caps worn in the restaurant, men in sleeveless shirts and singlet type vests in the buffet , women walking through the buffet restaurant in their swimming costumes , not a pretty sight ! I think that due to the cheap starter price of the cruise this holiday is replacing the Benidorm/Torremelinos all inclusive holiday and hence the drop in standards - a real pity . P & O need to get their act together , even if it means raising the price and cutting down on the numbers ! My opinion for what its worth ! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
Went on our first cruise on P&O Ventura .What a disappointment! The Entertainment very poor . After sailing for two nights and one day we were due to land at Grand Turk but the captain said it was to dangerous to land,nobody could ... Read More
Went on our first cruise on P&O Ventura .What a disappointment! The Entertainment very poor . After sailing for two nights and one day we were due to land at Grand Turk but the captain said it was to dangerous to land,nobody could understand why he didn't take us somewhere else away from the bad weather or to another island instead of just cruising around for another two days and two nights! I booked the cruise 18months before we went and was told by Thomson that the cruise would sell out very quick and we wouldn't get a better price.  We were then very surprised to see the same cruise being advertised for nearly £1800 cheaper 3 weeks before we sailed. Thought it would be a scam, but loads of Regular cruisers on board said they always leave it to approx 3 weeks before P&O sail and you will always get a better deal!.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ... Read More
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ventriloquist but was told it was rubbish, must see the 4tunes outstanding. As for the black tie nights sometimes we felt over dressed, on the black and white night the supposed most formal, allot of ladies were wearing colourful dresses.this is by no means a posh cruise so ordinary people wouldn't feel out of place, this was what we were concerned about, but what i will say you did get a few pompous people ie in the metropolis bar, but don't let that put you off going in there its great, but you did get some on the other end of the scale to. we booked very early, being novices we thought we would get a good deal, but soon found out this was not the case, you had people booking still six months ahead and getting better prices and also more spending money, ( a lesson learnt). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and ... Read More
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and the other half went on Carnival last year for our honeymoon which we thoroughly enjoyed so we were excited to cruise again and to see how a different company compared. My top tip would be to book as late as possible, we booked 16 months in advance thinking we were getting a good deal but it was reduced by around £500 per passenger around 6 weeks before departure which was sickening. STAFF The majority of the staff on the ship were Indian which we didn’t expect, I knew there would be some different ethnicities but 95% were Asian males. The majority were friendly with the odd exception. From certain members of staff we received fantastic service, in the restaurants and bars to the salon staff. Credit to P&O. (Joel Manning Head waiter, Melissa on bar, Gracey the bar steward, Krystina the croupier). DINING Breakfast was nice, buffet style was always plentiful and cooked nicely. Formal breakfast was nice too but toast was always cold. Lunch we missed most days but made it back for the afternoon which doesn’t really make sense to me, I would have preferred a ham/chicken salad at 4pm when you have had a day lazing by the beach rather than pie/curry, sandwiches and scones. Staff were less than forthcoming when we asked for a salad which is unfortunate considering the amount of money we handed over. Our evening seating time was 8.30pm which we chose as we thought 6.30pm was too early but due to the amount of people in our party we would struggle to make it to the 10.30 show so we changed to freedom dining in the second week which we wished we had done sooner. Freedom dining is the way forward. Food was average to very good in the main restaurant, there was a starter, soup, main, dessert and cheeseboard every night. We dined in the “surcharge” restaurants after a few days as the food was starting to get slightly repetitive in the main restaurant. East was £15 each but if you book while on board they offer a bottle of house wine between two on certain nights, effectively bringing the price down to £7.50 each. Same with the White Room which we paid £25 each for, with a bottle of wine between two we thought it was well worth it. The only restaurant (excluding the buffet) were you can dine outdoor which was fantastic. Beach House (daytime buffet restaurant which converts in to sit down restaurant of an evening) was £5 per person and you had the option to upgrade from there, ie. If you wanted king prawns to start you would need to pay an extra £1.50 and if you wanted steak on a stone it was an extra £2.95 but the food was very nice. Drinks were not too expensive, glass of wine approx £4 for small and £5.50 for large, spirit and mixer around £5 and cocktails from around a fiver. Range of wines available, bottles of house went down well at £14.95. Selection of diet drinks available which was a massive plus, diet coke, 7up free and diet Tango all available. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Gym had good machines but very little free classes. It opened at 8am until 8pm which was a bit awkward as we were awake at 6.30pm some days which we would have normally shot up to the gym ready to get off the boat once docked at 8am. This was very strict as there are cabins below the gym. Only way of getting in before this was to do a stretch and relax class at 7.30am which didn’t look like it would be worth walking to the lifts for, looked more like lie down and sleep. Shame they charged £7 odd for the spinning class too and there weren’t more aerobic classes available for free. Other than that it was fine, lots of equipment, busy in the morning with everybody standing at the front doors at 8am ready to get their preferred machine. Pools were fine though were majorly busy are what I would imagine a typical Benidorm holiday would be like, definitely wasn’t what we expected. At 5pm they would do a sail away party were the entertainment staff would come out and do sing along and arm waving that was fit for a 10 year olds party. We weren’t pleased but the other 2000 passengers seemed happy with it! (Bah humbugs!). Some days there were ice sculpting which was interesting, deck BBQs and as I said some parties when departing the island. Evening entertainment was fantastic thanks to the Headliners Theatre Group, such amazing singers and dancers who kept us entertained with 4 different shows while on-board. There were also two comedians, a Tom Jones and Gary Barlow tribute and a fantastic 4 piece Michael Buble style band who were amazing too. SHORE EXCURSIONS If there is something that you really want to do, ie whale watching/boat trips/river rafting, I would recommend booking through P&O as these wont be available to book on the day. For beach trips and island tours it was massively cheaper to book on arrival at the port. There are many street vendors over 50% cheaper than P&O. DISABLED FRIENDLY The disabled friendly room was fab. It was a great size and had excellent facilities throughout, the shower room was the same size as our cabin, the mother in law was made up! Getting on and off the ship was easy enough too as there would be a steward to help out at every port. The only port she was unable to get off was Tortola as we had to use a tender from the boat to the port. She didn’t miss much to say the least! All in all the cruise was fab, I would recommend P&O for both families and couples as there was something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We booked for our first Caribbean Cruise over a year before the sail date and we were so looking forward to it. One of the things we liked was that we booked our cases in at the airport and they were delivered to our cabin, one of the ... Read More
We booked for our first Caribbean Cruise over a year before the sail date and we were so looking forward to it. One of the things we liked was that we booked our cases in at the airport and they were delivered to our cabin, one of the things we found out that we didn't like was the length of time it takes to book everyone on board. We were in a hot and sweaty shed on the quayside in a long line and it took a good couple hours. The ship met up with our expectations, great food, lovely staff who were very friendly and tendered to our every need. The entertainment in the evenings was outstanding (Except for the Ventriloquist who was poor) in every venue. There was bars you could just sit and relax and enjoy a drink and there was bars where you could dance the night away something for everyone. But As with every holiday there are parts that doesn't come up to scratch and the Ventura is no exception. Firstly we felt like we were in a 2 Star all inclusive holiday in Spain as the sun beds were reserved very early in the morning with towels left on the beds while the holiday makers were nowhere to be seen, we thought it would be more classy than that. In fact we were told that people were reserving beds as early as 5:30 in the morning in order to get the prime spots. P&O policy states that no sunbed reservations are to be made but we witnessed two incidents of 'Bed Rage' Secondly, we assumed (wrongly) that the evening dress code would be smart casual mixed with a number of Black Tie events. What we found was that quite a number of people did not conform to the dress code and even to the point of wearing football shirts with shorts which tainted the experience. Overall, the cruise was fantastic and what we experienced would not put us off booking another.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
We booked this cruise just over a year before departure, choosing P&O as we had not cruised with them before, and the itinerary took us to 7 islands which we had never previously visited. The idea of checking luggage in at the UK ... Read More
We booked this cruise just over a year before departure, choosing P&O as we had not cruised with them before, and the itinerary took us to 7 islands which we had never previously visited. The idea of checking luggage in at the UK airport, and having them delivered direct to your cabin was a great innovation, and no security to go through at Bridgetown airport was another. The only problems with the flight were the fact we were sat on the aircraft for nearly three hours at Manchester airport before we departed! Problems with a piece of “cargo”, that we later discovered was a spare part for a stricken Thomas Cook aircraft at our destination. Then we were sat on the coach on the tarmac at Bridgetown for 45minutes before the final passengers were boarded before our 45 minute journey to Ventura, only to find there was then another 40 minute process to check in and get on-board. We finally got to our cabin at 6:25pm (dinner at 6:30), having been on the 9:00am flight out of Manchester. Thirteen and a half hours from scheduled departure to arrival was not a great start. At least we weren’t on the Saturday flight that didn’t even arrive! One thing we can say on the positive side is, the Cabin and Cabin Steward (Virag), were excellent. The layout and cleanliness were excellent, with the “dressing area” outside the bathroom much better than other layouts. No problem found with the shower size or curtain as read in previous reviews. Meals on board were OK. We had “Traditional” dining at the early seating, and found the menu varied, although the vegetables at times were a little tasteless. We took our breakfasts in the Waterside/Beach House areas, and on certain days (sea days) found these to be very crowded at times. One thing we did discover during our cruise was that the Muster Drill that everyone has to attend (by law), was not attended by some passengers. There was no check on who had attended or not by any of the crew, no “head-count”, no checking that passengers were out of their cabins at Muster. Other cruise companies have a head count as you enter the Muster Station, and crew check that all cabins are vacated of passengers. As this is a lawful requirement to attend, surely P&O are required to ensure that everyone is attending, and in case of an actual emergency, that all are at their dedicated Muster? Getting a sunbed was a nightmare. It was obvious (when at times we found some), that passengers were putting towels on them to “reserve” them and leaving them there for hours. Very annoying, and something that P&O should clamp down on. The best pool area we found was the Spa pool. Although this got more crowded as the cruise progressed. Now the “Down” sides. The atmosphere of the Bar and Deck staff on-board was very staid. There was no liveliness in them, almost like there was some unhappiness amongst them. They did their jobs ok, took drink orders, served them (very slowly at times) but that was all. There was no sense of enjoyment from them, like they were enjoying their work. There was no “fun” atmosphere. And as for the Cruise/Entertainments director, or whatever his title was, he would have been more suited to “Butlins”. Where on earth did they get him from? The layout on the ship seemed awkward. There appeared to be no “flow” through the ship. It was well into the second week before we could figure out what routes, up/down/forward/aft, we had to take to get between locations on-board. Overall we enjoyed the holiday, with some great new places visited. But as for P&O and Ventura, we’ve been spoilt by other companies. It’ll be back to Royal Caribbean for us definitely.   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Just arrived home from our first cruise. 1-14th March. We stayed on the Ventura. Being first timers we really didn't know what to expect. We flew from Gatwick to Barbados on Thomson Dreamliner and were very impressed with the amount ... Read More
Just arrived home from our first cruise. 1-14th March. We stayed on the Ventura. Being first timers we really didn't know what to expect. We flew from Gatwick to Barbados on Thomson Dreamliner and were very impressed with the amount of legroom. I assume long haul flights always have personal tv's for entertainment? On arrival in the port in Barbados we were amazed by the cheerfulness of the security staff and those dealing with our ID cards, I asked the guy dealing with mine if I should smile for my photo and he said "Oh yes SMILE, it's good to smile"!. I fully agree with the continuous use of anti bacterial hand gel used before you step on board and in all the dining rooms, such a pity many people ignore it. I wish airlines would use it too! We found our way (eventually) to our cabin (C422) and were very pleasantly surprised with our large balcony whilst below us had half the size and the ones above were even smaller, their cabins were probably much bigger but we had ample space so were very happy!! The rooms are kept immaculately clean by the stewards, mostly boys who do an amazing job and work extremely hard 7 days a week, rooms are serviced twice a day and it's a lovely gesture to find little squares of chocolate on your bed at night. Towels are changed each day and personal flannels are replaced morning and night. Tea, coffee, biscuits etc replenished twice daily. We had a set table in the Bay Tree Restaurant. The menu wasn't particularly amazing but it was better not to have too much to choose from and the food was beautifully presented and very filling. Wine was very reasonably priced as was most of the drinks on board. The waiters were extremely efficient and very pleasant and I cannot fault the service in any way. Entertainment wasn't really to our taste but this is not a criticism. We read a review about sunbeds but although there wasn't supposed to be a shortage, on days at sea we couldn't find two together and it was very much 'sardines in a can', this part of the cruise we didn't like, also there were no sunshades with the sunbeds. We booked a trip for each island we stopped at as we didn't want to just wander aimlessly, each trip also gave us free time to look around the shops in the ports. It was really good to arrive in a different place (nearly) every day. Regarding tipping, we opted out of the compulsory tip charge because we wanted to know EXACTLY where our money was going. Ask at reception for a form if you wish to opt out. We always tip generously, but like to tip those we choose to tip. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 ... Read More
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 previous cruises with Thomsons which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Didn't fancy paying the gratuities, which we didn't. If you go to reception they will give you a form to fill in and you just say that you do not want to pay the £3.50p each per day and that you would tip yourself where you thought it was necessary which we did. Our cabin steward was excellent, very friendly and approachable, kept the cabin spotlessly clean. We had an outside obstructed view on the 8th floor which was very nice. We found all the staff very pleasant, we spoke to quite a few different people who were different age groups on the cruise and everyone we spoke to were enjoying it, the only thing they did not like was the different prices people had paid. We paid £1,079 each for the 2 weeks where somebody else had paid £1,799 for a inside cabin. Somebody else who was in a balcony had paid £3,000 each and they found out that someone who had the same cabin as them had only paid £1,400 each, such a big difference in price. We found the breakfast excellent, also the afternoon teas were excellent. The evening meal was not as good not as much to choose from. You never got ice cream for any puddings which we found very strange, if you wanted an ice cream you had to pay for them. Some of the entertainment was very good, we saw two very good comedians, and a mind reader. The dances in the Headliners were also very good. Some of the other entertainment was not to our liking it was based more for older people, but I suppose you cannot please everyone's taste. The excursions were very expensive we did our own thing when we got off the ship. There are lots of taxis, and open sided buses to go on which work out a lot cheaper. We did two open sided bus trips which took three and a half hours for 20 dollars each, and one of them gave you complimentary drinks all the time, and even took us to a beach and left us there for one hour, and came back later to pick us up. Do not worry about getting back to the ship on time they will always ask you what time does your ship leave, and they will get you back on time, don't worry. The only other thing I will say that previous people had written about which we found to be true is you have to get up early on the day's that you are at sea to get a sun lounger, and some people put the towels on their beds and don't come back for a long time. Next to where we were laid the towels were on when we got there, so we do not know how long they had been there, and they did not return for three hours later. We would definitely go with P&O again but we are a bit limited because we only like fly cruises we wouldn't want to go from Southampton, and as they only go to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean starting this year so we have not got much choice. Looking forward to seeing you again sometime P&O Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to ... Read More
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to say that in my opinion P&O are far superior in many respects to Celebrity and indeed most other large cruise lines and I will set out my reasons for saying so in this review. My partner Barbara and I have cruised with P&O on twelve occasions, most recently earlier this month in the Caribbean on Ventura. We have also travelled on Celebrity’s Equinox and Eclipse in recent years as well as on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s sister company, Princess and Cunard. Whilst I realise that a lot of people will have been on even more cruises than we have, nevertheless I think that my breadth of experience of cruising with several different companies enables me to provide an informed, and I hope reasonably objective, opinion on their relative merits. Most of the modern ships built for the large cruise companies I mentioned are broadly similar in structure and design and are very well fitted out and equipped to cater to the demands of today’s discerning cruise clientele. All of the above companies have launched several brand new ships in recent years and this trend seems set to continue .Where the differences arise is in the details of the overall product and service offered to passengers and this is the area in which I believe P&O have the edge. First, Celebrity’s new Solstice class ships are generally very impressive in their design and decor, but, unlike P&O’s ships, they do not have a proper promenade deck for passengers to walk around and sit on. Promenade decks have always been a traditional and stylish feature of ocean liners and cruise ships and add to the glamour of cruising in my opinion. Instead, Celebrity have a short jogging track on one of the upper decks on their new ships, but this is a poor substitute. Secondly, the entertainment on Celebrity’s ships is nowhere near as good or as extensive as that provided by P&O. On our cruises on the Equinox and Eclipse there were only three full production shows by the ship’s resident theatre company in two weeks as opposed to the seven regularly performed by P&O’s Headliners theatre company during the same length of cruise. Moreover there was only one show per night on Celebrity {obviously repeated for each of the two formal dinner sittings} varying between the production show and other cabaret artists, whereas on P&O there are three or four different shows every evening, again repeated for each of the dinner sittings. The shows performed by the Headliners on P&O are superb and are of real West End quality. In fact, most of the artists in the company have actual experience of appearing in the West End and/or on television. By comparison, Celebrity’s shows and those of the other cruise lines we have seen were of average quality. Even the production and technical aspects of the P&O shows are better. For example, on one occasion on Cunard, one of the few shows scheduled had to be cancelled because one of the lead singers had a sore throat. If this happens on P&O they have back-up recordings of all the singers so that they can mime to these and the show can go on as normal. Admittedly, Celebrity do have various musicians and bands performing live each evening around the ship as well ,but so do P&O. This last comment brings me to another criticism I have of Celebrity. Every evening in the atrium there was very loud blaring music played. The design of the new Solstice class ships is for the whole of the centre of the ship, from the bottom of the atrium up to the top decks even up to the library, to be open, which is visually very impressive ,but this means that it is difficult if not impossible to relax or carry on a conversation in any of the bars and lounges around the various decks in the centre of the ship. Even upon request they will not lower the volume. Apart from the evening entertainment in the theatres and lounges, P&O also have a lot of quizzes every day during the cruise which are very popular and which I personally enjoy very much. They also have guest speakers throughout the cruise, dancing classes , craft classes etc. I know that the other cruise companies have some of these features , but not as many and they are not as well organised. Another issue is the price of drinks on ships .On Celebrity, as is the case with most of the American cruise lines , {including unfortunately these days Cunard as well on whose ships Carnival ,their American owners, have chosen the US dollar as the on board currency}, prices are comparable to what you would pay in expensive hotels, but they also add on an automatic 15% service charge and they then rub salt in the wound by leaving a note and space at the foot of the bill for an additional gratuity. We are not big drinkers, but I know that all of this annoys many passengers. P&O by contrast charge what can be described as reasonable pub prices for drinks and they do not add any service charge.{ P&O’s general service charge for the cruise overall is also set at a much more reasonable level than Celebrity’s}. Furthermore P&O will let passengers bring on to the ship bottles of wine and spirits purchased ashore to drink in their cabins, whereas Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and I believe most of the other cruise lines will confiscate these and do not return them until the end of the cruise, presumably so that passengers will carry on paying their exorbitant prices for drinks on board. One simple area where P&O provide a thoughtful touch is in providing tea and coffee making facilities in your cabin so that you can have a hot drink whenever it suits you. Celebrity will of course like most cruise lines bring you such drinks via room service free of charge, but this can take some time and the drinks when they arrive are never as hot or fresh as if you had made them yourself. P&O also provide room service, but they know that passengers like to have the option to make their own hot drinks when they want them. Celebrity have now introduced kettles and tea and coffee on their cruises from the UK, but not elsewhere in the world. P&O also provide free launderettes with ironing facilities on each deck on board all their ships so that passengers can wash, iron and press clothes if they wish to, which is very helpful on fly cruises where there are flight luggage restrictions so that passengers who have kept their clothes to a minimum can do a wash half way through the cruise. Celebrity do not do this, and so passengers have to pay their laundry or pressing charges. Another area where P&O excel is in their service in getting passengers to the Caribbean in the winter months where their two large ships Azura and Ventura are stationed. They organize dedicated charter flights from several UK airports which fly straight to Barbados. The process of getting from the plane to the ship is seamless. You do not have to go through any formalities at the airport in Barbados. Instead, you are whisked from the plane straight on to a coach to the ship and you are usually on board and in your cabin within an hour. You do not have to collect your luggage from the airport since this is delivered direct to your cabin. Contrast this with all the other cruise lines where you have to fly, often indirectly, to Florida, go through all the hassle of American immigration, retrieve your own luggage, stay in a hotel overnight and then finally transfer to the ship the next day. There is no comparison. The quality and variety of the food provided by all of the major cruise lines are broadly similar, but most of them now have specialist a la carte restaurants in addition to the main dining rooms and buffet restaurants, which offer menus prepared by, or restaurants named after, famous chefs. These specialist restaurants have a separate cover charge, but again we have found that the American cruise lines generally charge more than P&O, who again offer better value. To be fair there are certain features on the other cruise lines which P&O do not have. For example, on Celebrity, the lawn club areas with real grass on the top deck, on Cunard the very traditional afternoon tea dances, on Royal Caribbean the ice dancing rink and ice shows and on Princess the mini golf putting course. However, the preponderance of areas where P&O excel and are superior to the others is telling. These various matters when considered together do in my opinion make a big difference and I think go quite some way in explaining why I think P&O, while far from being without fault, are still nevertheless the best cruise company to travel with. As with a lot of cruise companies, regular passengers have noticed certain areas where they have cut back on some details and services to save costs ,but this is probably as a result of the competitive pricing they have had to adopt to market and sell the cruises given today’s economic climate .However, I think that they still offer the best overall cruise experience. The combination of formal and informal themed evenings on their cruises is just right and their sailaway parties are the best. I know that they are owned by Carnival, like Princess, Cunard and some other brands, but to their credit Carnival seem intent on maintaining P&O’s unique and traditionally British style of cruising. I am looking forward to travelling on P&O’s new superliner Britannia next year which promises to raise the bar for standards still further. To summarise, I do hope that people who have cruised with P&O and who sometimes like to have a little moan, as we all do from time to time, will reflect on the issues I have raised and realise that P&O are not so bad after all. If you are reading this as a regular traveller with Celebrity or another cruise line, then why not give P&O a try.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we ... Read More
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we were concerned about the negative reviews, I now wonder if they were all on a different ship to us. we had wonderfully clean, bright cabins with a balcony, champagne, chocolates, flowers and of course the gown and slippers and excellent toiletries The White Company. Pleasant and helpful cabin girl, who could not do enough and remarkably never forgot our names. We, all four, must have been guests from heaven for her, not messy, untidy or demanding, respectful of her culture and human sacrifice of being away from her family for many months and years, we noted many cabins with doors open and "jumble sales" going on inside!! Unless you are with children or a smoker, the main pools are to be avoided like the plague. Noisy, with loud music. Hence the need for your own balcony, if this is not your idea of a good time, for some it is, I just wish they were on a different cruise.  That is my only complaint, except the lack of sunbeds, when at sea. The food was really good, our waiters charming and chatty, and friendly when on other duties during the daytime and you saw them, two lovely boys. Breakfast in the main restaurant is a very nice start to the day, lunch or high tea in the self service area after a day on shore "perfect" The evening entertainment was more than adequate for our different tastes, we particularly enjoyed the Kenny Rogers impersonator and the Tamarind Bar, the shows in the theatre were most enjoyable. Finally walking around the deck late in the evening with the warm Caribbean breeze "wonderful " The islands are a delight, take the tours waiting at the cruise terminal, much cheaper and they are the people who need the money. In all a wonderful, cruise, which will be repeated. I have cruised before with Royal Caribbean and much prefer P&O. Barbados airport was a complete nightmare, no organization, our plane The Dreamliner, on the way out was a perfect flight, plenty of leg room, most comfortable seats I have ever had on a flight. In Barbados it was grounded for some reason, so, our boarding passes issued on board the ship (good idea) where all incorrect and had to be re issued with different seats, even when, as we had, booked and paid for seatin g of our choice. This was not broadcast over the tanoy, no one walked the queue explaining the problem and re issuing - nightmare. The cabin crew were dreadful, rude, unhelpful, we are still waiting for coffee/tea with our breakfast. They were missing for the first 1 1/2 hours of the flight. But the cruise readers, was fabulous.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
So this was my second time cruising with p&o but my first time in the carribbean.The flights to and from the cruise were faultless and the embarkation was quick and easy. Entertainment- There was some form of entertainment on most ... Read More
So this was my second time cruising with p&o but my first time in the carribbean.The flights to and from the cruise were faultless and the embarkation was quick and easy. Entertainment- There was some form of entertainment on most nights and i have to admit they were mostly amazing however during the day there isnt alot going on which i was a bit disapointed in.there wasnt any entertainment around the pools apart from at the sailaway parties at which the deck was too crowded to enjoy it. service- All the bar staff were excellent and friendly apart from one who seemed to be fine to me but was always blunt and rude to my 14 year old daughter(who wasnt loud or rowdy) which i thought was a bit of a let down to an overall good service.However the same cannot be said about my cabin steward(dulce) who was useless.There were 3 of us in my cabin and yet she only supplied us with 2 towels, therefore we asked for another to be in there however in the end we had to go out to her trolley and go get one ourselves every morning because she never gave us one. port-The shore excursions arranged by p&o were amazing and ran smoothly, i would highly reccomend the two reef turtle snorkel as the staff and the excursion itself was exceptionally good. dining- i went to the resturant twice and was not amazed, the food just never seemed to appeal to me and so we ended up going to the buffet most of the time where there was a much better selection of food which was good except for the lack of fruit during lunch and dinner. childrens clubs- My 14 year old daughter used the teens club every day and was definately not dissapointed. on the first night there were only 2 other children in the kids club which were both 5 years younger than her but the youthie working at the time(sam) made a big effort to make her feel welcome.on the second day my daughter went to see if any more children of her age had come to the kids club yet and there were a few more children but not any of her age, however sarah(one of the youthies) who had never met lauren before came over and knew lauren by name and age already and really made her feel welcome and comfortable and assured her that some children of her age would turn up soon. when 2 boys her age turned up sarah made an effort to introduce lauren to them and from then on lauren became good friends with them and spent every spare minute in the kids club.The youthies are all really friendly and caring but arent bossy or patronising, they would joke around with the kids and tease them like they were one of them. We were really pleased with all the youth staff she encountered and i would like to give them all credit: Sam,Abi,Sarah,Lynne,,Danii,Laura, Vicky and Denise, you were all amzing and made laurens cruise experience 100x better. overall this cruise was amazing and am definately going to go on it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2014
This was our first trip to the Caribbean and our first on Ventura although we are experienced cruisers in other locations and on other ships, including Azura. Ventura itself is a nice ship, nothing special and it seems to fall in the gap ... Read More
This was our first trip to the Caribbean and our first on Ventura although we are experienced cruisers in other locations and on other ships, including Azura. Ventura itself is a nice ship, nothing special and it seems to fall in the gap of not managing to quite cater for anybody specifically. In terms of the evening entertainment if musical theatre and lounge music is your thing then you will be well catered for, otherwise forget it. It's all well and good advertising as being family friendly but P&O seem to forget that most families have a dad and there is very little about the P&O on board experience suited to your average 30-40 something man. In the same way because everything is a little more relaxed the older guests aren't exactly happy either. You do get the odd bit of general entertainment, we had Manuel Martinez, a mind reader and a ventriloquist over our 2 week cruise but these are few and far between compared to the 3-4 times a night solo/lounge singing onslaught. They are also packed out 30-40 minutes before they start due to people looking for something different. We enjoyed the food on Ventura and chose to eat in our allocated main dining room most nights. In the past we were firm favourites of the buffets on other ships but the table limitations on Ventura made the whole buffet experience a bit of a pain, especially if you wanted to eat together. And that isn't even going in to the rudeness of some of the other guests on board, I'll save that for later. Generally speaking all the waiting on staff were superb and the drinks waiters in the various public areas did a good job of getting to you when you wanted a drink. In each location we'd built a reputation where staff new what we wanted without us needing to ask, you can't fault that level of service. I can see why some people could get annoyed by being asked if they wanted a drink but then again we don't go on holiday to sit nursing the same glass of water for 3 hours whilst we wait for the next free bit of entertainment. By far the best bit of this holiday for us was the ports, all delivered more than we expected. For the most part we'd arranged our own trips to avoid the cattle truck trips organised by P&O although we did slip up and I had to order a last minute P&O trip in Grenada. It was the only bad experience we had ashore during the whole holiday (90 minutes each way up mountain paths on a fold out chair). Highlights included snorkelling around Klein Bonair (on the Woodwind, a nice sailing boat) and our island trip around St Lucia with Spencer Ambrose tours. You can't compare the trips offered on board to organising a private trip for both value and experience. Don't be fooled by the "miss the ship" scare tactics, in all the cruises we've done we've never found a local operator that wasn't extremely conscious of when your ship was leaving and making extra sure to get you back in good time. At this point it was a solid 4 out of 5 cruise but what knocked it back and the reason I wouldn't step foot on another P&O cruise ship if I was paid to was the other guests. Despite the family friendly/relaxed cruising marketing that P&O is trying to establish their ships are still rammed with a generation of cruise guests that the sooner they are gone the better. Just some highlights, we witnessed guests clicking their fingers at staff in the dining room, addressing staff as "you boy", a talk on Concorde we walked past included the gem "you can't trust foreign johnnies" to much laughter and applause from the gathered geriatrics. We saw other adults being asked to leave the endless pool so that older guests could doggy paddle in peace. Children being shouted at by older guests in the main pools. Waiters completely ignored when greeting people for dinner. People running into lifts with some sort of over inflated sense of entitlement in front of the people who had called the lift. Then there were the ladies of a certain age at the buffet who seemed to have their elbows permanently out and have no concept of waiting in line. We aren't snobs by any stretch of the imagination but the total lack of basic manners and to a certain degree racism shown was appalling. Not so much Butlins at Sea as Ignorant Old People Who Think They Have Paid For The Right To Abuse People At Sea. There wasn't a day that passed where we didn't wonder exactly what we had let ourselves in for. Traditional British cruising you say? That's why we'll not be going back. My understanding is that the Ventura and Azura were designed to be affordable in a way of attracting new cruise customers, from my experience on both ships it seems that all they've done is attract the worst of the bargain hunting older generation who just can't help themselves in feeling entitled to something better whilst walking around like they have bought the ship. We will be going back to the Caribbean sooner rather than later, but not with P&O.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled ... Read More
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled flights if we do the trip again. There were obvious queues to check in in a less than luxurious shed but you were offered water while you waited. Once check in was complete we boarded the ship and went in search of our cabin. I was so excited because two weeks prior to departure I had had an email from P & O offering us an upgrade to a suite for an additional £250 per person. This seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity so we took it and were given the Penthouse Suite on the back of the ship. It was amazing, so much space, a butler and the opportunity to have breakfast in the White Room each morning. If you ever get the chance to upgrade I would highly recommend it. The crew as always were friendly, polite, courteous and eager to please. We ate in the Bay Tree each night and the food was always good if not excellent. Lunch was usually eaten in Saffron and again was good or excellent. We ate one evening in the White Room and the food was delicious, I was so full I could hardly manage a pudding. I'm not sure it was worth £25 each but the experience of eating under the stars was great. We used the buffet a couple of times, usually when we had missed lunch and the quality was good and plenty of hand gel in evidence. Pizza was a naughty treat occaisonally as was afternoon tea. We enjoyed pre-dinner drinks in the Metropolis most nights, although sometimes it was hard to get served if they were very busy, this was also the case in the Red Bar. We thought that staff numbers had probably been cut since our last trip. The Glasshouse seemed to lack atmosphere whereas when it was Las Ramblas we thought it had a definite buzz in it but maybe that was to do with the different show times. Shows are not really for us although we did go to one which was fine and we saw Tom O'Connor too. My husband when to a few talks from the guest speaker. In an effort to burn off some calories we visited the gym several times and as usual there were pieces of equipment out of action. One of the rowing machines only required a new battery in the display but despite mentioning this on the first day, two weeks later it was still out of action. We had an excellent holiday once again and would highly recommend this trip to anyone.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Booked this for my husbands 50th birthday first time with P and O , not impressed , Done 6 Cunard voyages in different ships including QE2 and Thomson Celebration once which was better than expected . But very disappointed with Ventura the ... Read More
Booked this for my husbands 50th birthday first time with P and O , not impressed , Done 6 Cunard voyages in different ships including QE2 and Thomson Celebration once which was better than expected . But very disappointed with Ventura the ship was shabby , service was slow , trips was very expensive , Food was average nothing special in the Waterside if you don't like variety then ok but got boring having same things day after day , main restaurant was a little better , the cabin was dusty and am sure the carpet was not hovered in the two weeks we was on board ,as we spilt some sugar on the first day and it was still there on our last day , bedding was changed only three times in fourteen days , we ordered room service which took 30 minutes and put the tray outside our cabin on the hallway floor as you do for collection at 4pm and it was still there at midnight , also beer prices was enough at £3.75 for pint of lager , husband drinks lager with lemonade top P and O charge 50p for an eggcup of lemonade in a pint of larger which seemed short of a pint anyway , wine very expensive £6.75 for a small glass of cheap rose , spa treatments expensive with hidden service charge on top , Told P and O at time of booking this was a special event husbands 50th birthday , he got money of offer letter from spa and jewellery stores but not a lot but did not even get a 50p card from P and 0 , had to pay £10 for a birthday cake 6 inch sponge which was nothing special and got told could only put happy birthday so even the cake was not special , overall very disappointed a £5,000 holiday been saving for two years , not worth the money expected more from P and O , I do not rate them being a top rate cruise liner , I don't even think the captain knew how to use the stabilizers as the ship was rocking badly and we even experienced a power cut with complete engine failure and was drifting for an hour in open waters , and was assured there was nothing to worry about , sorry but felt ripped off my money is with cunard any time or Thomson ships , Best part was flying on Thomson Dreamliner very impressive , would not go with P and O again as they should stick to ferry crossings only Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
The cruise was a good value, winter holiday, the carribean ports and weather were great, but I would not cruise P and O again primarily due to their shoody and lax attitude to safety. I.E I don't want to risk being in a fire, or being ... Read More
The cruise was a good value, winter holiday, the carribean ports and weather were great, but I would not cruise P and O again primarily due to their shoody and lax attitude to safety. I.E I don't want to risk being in a fire, or being unable to evacuate the ship at short notice in an emergency due to drunken passengers. It is lucky that there was no fire on the ship as passengers openly smoked over the railings both on their balcolnies and deck 7 and numerous stubbed out cigs on the deck floor. I have never seen such a thing on other cruise lines such as Fred Olsen or Celebrity which take fire safety more seriously. I alerted the crew and passengers to the fire risk, and advised passengers to smoke more responsibly but my complaint was ignored. Passengers drunken behaviour was also treated as a joke and tolerated. For example some people were so drunk after a rum rhunner trip, that one fell down the stairs of the catamaran, and several had to be escorted by the ship's crew to board the ship so that they did not fall into the sea. Two even had to be escorted by wheelchair as they could not walk. Passengers watched and took photos of this walk of shame. Surely it is against international maritime law to allow people who are so drunk that they can barely walk, back onto a cruise ship. In addition to that there were virtually no sunbeds in the shade, which is not ideal for fair skinned people at increased risk of skin cancer. A passenger complained about the skin cancer risk, but the complaint was ignored. I don't really understand why the ship constantly served boring English food as if people were not on holiday and were in britain. The Indian food on the ship was excellent due to many of the staff being from india, but the ships attempts at cooking Carribean food were a disaster. The food was so dull in the main restaurants that we mainly ate at the buffet, where the food was a bit better. There was little peace and quiet on the ship, with the same tape being constantly played even when no-one was there. The embarrasing 50s style sailaway entertainment was cringeworthy and the entertainers treated passengers like children who needed to be entertained. I.E The staff did not appear to understand that the aim of going on holiday is to escape the UK, rather than pretend to be in Britain. The crew were overworked due to cutbacks in staff, as the cabin stewards worked from about 7am to 10 pm. Accessing your cabin was quite difficult due to cabin staff wishing to clean it at strange times such as 12:00 or 9pm.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We flew out from Gatwick on a Thompson dream liner plane,dont know what dream was as my wife had her foot trod on by the steward,no apology and then had her seat yanked forward because she did not push the button quick enough,when we ... Read More
We flew out from Gatwick on a Thompson dream liner plane,dont know what dream was as my wife had her foot trod on by the steward,no apology and then had her seat yanked forward because she did not push the button quick enough,when we complained were told our names were being taken,for what we do not know,you had an excuse of a meal and a cup of t or coffee ,no refills and one hour before touch down received a roll and further cup of t or coffee,if you wanted any thing else you had to pay for it,great on a long houl flight,on reaching Barbados and checking in boarded the ship and went to our cabins,no f414,it was clean and tidy,was in port overnight and then set sail,while at sea the entertainment was a quiz,hello,is this Butlins,during the two weeks we had three comedians the one from Cuba was ok but the other two people were getting up and waliking out then we had to suffer them a second time so did not bother,the headliners did a show that was good,my doughter had her dress stolen from the laundry and when we reported it were told it was lost property,I wanted a theft report but only got a lost property one,terrible service for the money. Most mornings at breakfast they ran out of cups and glasses and you were queing for 15 minutes waiting for them to arrive,then the glasses were hot to put cold drinks in. I have been on this ship before and the standards have droped to what they were,even the food was not what it used to be,. The ports and countrys we visited were great but sadly let down by the VENTURA,P&O have contacted me and offered me £50 each person to come off the next cruise and £69 for my doughters dress to come off the next cruise,big deal for a ruined cruise,many we spoke to were not happy with things. In finishing I can say I will not be back. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly ... Read More
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly staff who do a super job of looking after you (in the allocated time) and do their very best to make the mediocre feel special, cabins with good storage and comfy beds(not deep cleaned for the OCD brigade but reasonably clean)with nicely fitted bathrooms, but most of all (unless you are one of the uptight brigade with truly unreasonable expectations) you will get to relax and be spoilt for a very realistic price. Ventura is not a ship for the picky but if you like down to earth good fun (not yobbishness) this is the place to find it. We didn`t use all the facilities during our fortnight but I will give a brief resume of those we did. Room service. We used this for breakfast every morning and for occasional afternoon snacks and drinks.Nice food (I agree about the toast, it could be better),pleasant service and speedy delivery. cinnamon restaurant on freedom dining dinner. Made friends with the maître de asap and secured a nice table for 2 in our preferred area. Had generally lovely food and ate far too much most nights. The waiting staff were brilliant, simply could not have done more to keep us happy. Found a nice dry white at £13.95 a bottle !! and thoroughly enjoyed every evening. Theatre Headline theatre company were superb and The Opera Boys fantastic. We saw 5 shows and enjoyed them all. Havana caberet bar. We didn`t think much to the 2 tribute acts we saw here, Cliff Richard and Tom Jones but wer`e not fans of either of these artists so maybe our judgement was coloured by this. It was also difficult to get seats where you could see unless you were willing to spend half the night there hogging seats. Waterside buffet. Only used once because we are not keen on buffets but the fish and chips we had were not bad. Beach house (evening restaurant) We used this once and had super food and great service. If we hadn`t enjoyed Cinnamon so much we probably would have come here more. Lovely menu. Shore excursions. In our opinion, overpriced and poor value. My partner went on the ATV trip in St Lucia and said it was OK but was annoyed that P&O wouldn`t let him take me as a pillion only to discover people on the trip who had booked through other means and were carrying pillions. Shops Not a huge problem to us but overpriced and poorly stocked. More reasonably priced resort wear and particularly T Shirts and kids present ideas and we`d have spent a lot more. Breakaway bar (deck 16 ) Lovely place to while away an hour or 2 in the sun with a long cool drink. Spa. Had a good cut and blow dry for £45 (a tadge steep) but the price of other packages even on special offer put us off. The grill on deck 15. Num num, lovely cheeseburgers fish gougons and fries. Naughty naughty (diet needed now). Ports of call. We enjoyed most but weren`t keen on Bonaire. We should have done more independent beach visits as we had a great time in grenada and Barbados swimming in the sea and relaxing on the sand. In conclusion we found everything in this cruise that we needed and more. It would be easy to pick a few faults but why waste our hard earned holiday doing that?. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
After my experience, all show and no substance. The Ship cruised beautifully, but the staff let her down, especially the restaurant staff. They lacked training and even some meals appeared that were not as described. A "Caribbean ... Read More
After my experience, all show and no substance. The Ship cruised beautifully, but the staff let her down, especially the restaurant staff. They lacked training and even some meals appeared that were not as described. A "Caribbean Pork" was actually in Hoi Sin sauce which I suspected was left over from the Duck a couple of nights before. A "fillet steak" was actually Sirloin. When we asked for cream for our coffee, we were presented with milk in a ramekin dish and assured it was cream (whipped cream). The head waiter was called and cream in a jug appeared. A stroppy waiter slammed down a jar of brown sugar after we explained to him "Canderel " was not Demerara sugar and would he please bring us brown sugar? The food was not special (on Princess you feel as though you are eating out in a nice restaurant every night, whereas on Ventura, we felt as though we were just eating food we would cook at home every night. We paid extra to eat in the Marco Pierre "White Room" on 3 occasions (£60 per couple) in order to get the food and service we wanted. The constant hard selling of drinks spoiled what should have been a relaxing holiday and even when my husband still had a drink in front of him it was "Can I get you another drink?" The staff in the restaurant did not smile, and I wondered if someone had died, so different from the wonderfully friendly and happy Princess cruises staff. I felt the staff did not respect the passengers and did not want to be there Generally, it was not a slick operation and I'll be returning to Princess where I hopefully will not be made to feel like one in a herd of cattle. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Just got home from our 3rd P & O cruise, had a fantastic time but I do feel P & O is slipping behind it's competitors, we have already picked our next cruise and it will be Princess again. Our cabin on the Ventura was fine but ... Read More
Just got home from our 3rd P & O cruise, had a fantastic time but I do feel P & O is slipping behind it's competitors, we have already picked our next cruise and it will be Princess again. Our cabin on the Ventura was fine but smaller than Princess, our cabin steward was top notch, couldn't fault his service. However I was enraged to find out from him that we could not have a toweling robe in our cabin. Even on Princess you have to ask for one but you do get it. How penny pinching is this!!! Likewise the food, it was lovely, well cooked and served but no little luxuries like Lobster, caviar and other delights which Princess do so well. We thought the entertainment was good on this ship, enjoyed several of the theatre shows and entertainers but missed a nightclub/disco on board, there was a Dj in the Havana bar but always really late in the evening. Shops were a total disappointment, expensive stuff, Harrods range, mega expensive handbags, not a patch on Princess. Frustrated to find no waiter service in the buffets, self service tea and self service wine dispensers!!! Swimming pools were freezing, didn't use them at all, we waited for the beach. Plus side - drinks were really cheap, £3.50 for a pint of John Smiths and £13 for a bottle of red, saved us a fortune. Also the cost of the cruise is cheaper overall but we would rather pay extra for the little luxuries. We flew Premium class Thomas Cook, worth every penny extra for more leg room and great service. So P & O pull your socks up a bit and stop all the little economies because when we cruise we are looking for luxury. Our next ship will be Ruby Princess, looking forward to comparing!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared ... Read More
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared to be very good value that was departing during the time I had off. I stumbled across the P&O getaway fare and when you factored in that flights were included, it was a deal that was really too good to pass up. We booked directly with P&O via their website and the flight booking element was more trial and error as it offered flights from all our first choice airports first, then announced they weren’t available. In fact the only option was economy from Gatwick. But in a few minutes it was booked, although somehow it managed to associate the booking with my old email address I had registered with Princess cruises, so it didn't send me any confirmation. That said, it did put the cruise in my history with Princess that counts towards my loyalty level, but the history wasn’t transferable the other way, so I was a proper P&O newbie. Although my traveling companion had been slowly moving up the P&O loyalty scale, so this meant some decent onboard discounts. Flights and Transfers (8/10) As the flight departed at 09:10 from an airport 3 hours away from home, we opted to stay at the airport the night before. I got a decent deal at the Holiday Inn, close the the north terminal for about £90 which included the room, 15 night’s parking and a transfer to the airport. Although the same transfer bus also served the best western and Travelodge Gatwick Central, both of which would have been slightly better options as the Holiday Inn wasn’t partially special and the food and drink were expensive. When we arrived at the airport, the check in process was P&O cruises branded, which was a nice touch and we filled in our health declaration forms before even getting to the counter. Although the queue moved slowly having just 2 people operate a check-in for a full flight. They were also pretty tight on the luggage allowance (at 23kg each), with a hand baggage allowance roughly the size of a holiday novel. Thankfully the luggage scales we used seem fairly accurate and thanks to some last minute case swapping we were both under. Just. The people in front of us experienced that horrible re-pack at check in, which is probably one of the most humiliating and stressful experiences a traveller can undergo. I also booked lounge access at the airport, which was a bit of a waste of money as the BA Galleries Lounge it wasn’t. Very basic buffet breakfast with the option to order ONE hot item each, which was tasty but about 1/4 of the size it needed to be to be satisfying. We kind of got the best option with the choice of aircraft as we were booked on the Thompson Dreamliner; although advance seat reservation was expensive at £15 for a basic seat and £35+ for an exit row seat (and you had to book both ways, whether you wanted it or not), it did make sense as the plane was a 3-3-3 configuration and a pair of travellers were likely to be separated across an aisle. The seats were pretty roomy, and probably the best experience i’ve had in the “back of a plane” with decent touch screen entertainment and food that really wasn’t that bad. Drinks (apart from a cup of tea with the meal) were extra. They did stop the inflight entertainment about 40 minutes before landing to make you watch promotional videos for P&O trips you might want to buy, which was a little annoying. They could have also perhaps done with saying that once you land there would be no toilet opportunities for at least an hour after touching down.. rather than telling you this as you were about to go down the steps. Within a few minutes and organisation that verged more on the side of luck than judgement we were aboard a small bus with plastic seats and no air conditioning for the 40 minute ride to the ship. This was followed by a relatively smooth check in process where we also had to complete the same health forms that we’d done 9 hours previously at Gatwick. In all from landing to getting in the cabin is was about an hour and a half; plus we didn’t have to go through any luggage or immigration formalities. Cabin and Ship (9/10) As I mentioned previously, I’ve always sailed with Princess, who use the same design of ships. Therefore I was pretty comfortable with the layout of where most things were and what to expect. The ship was actually much prettier from a design point of view than the Princess version, and the cabin was exactly the same save for different carpets, curtains, bedding, pictures on the wall and lamps. The only real noticeable difference was the british sockets and a proper kettle; both of which were appreciated. The cabin never once felt claustrophobic and the balcony was a decent size, having a bit of extra space which was offset by the fact that it was high and forward with a solid rail wall rather than the glass of 98% of the other balconies. The rest of the ship was pretty much as per the Princess design, aside from nicer decor and better zoning of some of the outside areas. The only thing that didn’t really work for me was the layout at the bottom of the atrium, which on Princess is a more heavily used space thanks to the free 24 hour food available in the international cafe. Although the P&O version has more seats, the coffee was expensive and the food wasn’t much of a draw. So although the atrium looked pretty, it was pretty much a waste of space other than for 20 minutes sessions of dancing in the evening. The ship was in good to excellent condition, only a few signs of age, but largely it was a pleasing place to be. The ship also held its own whenever in port by being one of the better looking ships around. Food and Drink (7/10) Food is always a subjective matter, but it really wasn’t bad. In fact some of the dishes were very good, nothing was ever breathtaking bad and only a few items of disappointments. We ate in the buffet most days for breakfast and the choices were the same every single day. A little variety wouldn’t have killed them, that said the food was fine and fairly tasty. For lunch it was either the pool side eating areas, or the buffet or a combination of both. The buffet had a little more variety at lunch time, and the vegetable Paella was very good (although the same dish made 3 other appearances described as something else at various points, it was good nevertheless). The burgers from the grill were tasty, the pizzas were a little ‘meh’. One thing that did bug me about the buffet was the labelling. Although they had a sign on to say what was on each counter, it was often a little bit of guess work trying to establish which dish was which. While not particularly important if you are not fussy, if you are trying to keep to a particular dietary requirement, it makes unnecessarily hard work of it. The food in the main restaurant also wasn’t bad. The most disappointing dish was the prime rib, which was about 1/3 of the size of that served by Princess with about a quarter of the taste. There was also only ever one meat free main course available, which meant it was either that or nothing. One night the entire veggie selection looked pretty boring, but I ordered it anyway and it turned out to be one of the most nicely balanced dishes I’ve ever eaten. One night we also opted for the White Room at £25 per person. Although making a booking made it sound like they were doing you a favour by fitting you in, the place was less than half full. We did get a table on the outside deck for the evening, which was lovely. The food was OK, but probably not quite £50’s worth, save for a rather nice basket of bread. Drinks were reasonably priced, considering their location; mostly on a par with with what you would pay in a restaurant or bar at home; and when you factored in the 8% loyalty discount, it made for much better value beverages than on other cruise lines where you have to mentally add 15% to the price of everything you’ve just ordered. Room service was fine and easy to order through the clunky and slow interactive TV system. Although some dishes were free, some had a charge and there didn’t seem to be any logical connection between the cost of the dish and whether it was free or not. We also did Glasshouse for the lunchtime tapas which was pretty good. Finally we tried East for a lunch special of £7.50 each, which was probably the best all round meal had on board as the food was good and had decent service; which is something that couldn’t be said for the majority of food and drink experiences… Service 3/10 This is where P&O need to do some serious work. First the positives, the room steward was excellent, and probably one of the better ones I have had. He was like a hawk and always said good morning / afternoon and always knew when you were away from your cabin whether or not you put the service tag out. The bad bits were pretty much everything else. The reception desk was about as welcoming as the enclave to the Wicked Witch of the West and it apparently it was my fault that the bar code on my cruise card wasn’t printed properly and the fact that the other card didn’t open the cabin door. In the restaurant things were worse. The first night not even a hello from the waiting staff; we have to ask for bread. And menus. And for someone to take a drinks order (who eventually did so just as we started the mains). The second night it took until the dessert course arriving for them to get the wine saved from the previous night and then the wine waiter actually stood and augured with us as we’d had the cheek to eat in deck 5 restaurant rather than deck 6 the night before. I could stand this no-longer so had a quiet word with both the wine manager and the restaurant manager who were apologetic. After this we were seated more quickly and only in a specific section where the staff were better (no doubt the corner reserved for the complainers). On deck the drinks staff weren’t much better. It was often an issue getting someone to take your order (ironically the worse service was where there was less passengers around, where the few staff that were working didn’t really seem to care either way). Often the drinks would take an age, particularly if you were ordering expensive soft drinks from your pepsi card and even then service was hardly with a smile. I also found it irritating that you couldn’t just get something directly from a bar and all interactions had to be with 2 people. Perhaps because the people pouring the drinks were even less polite than the waiting staff, with rarely even a please or thank you. Likewise if you asked for anything slightly different, the answer was never yes. It was always a problem or something they needed to “check on”. Ironically decent service is one of the few things you would expect on a cruise ship to be a no-brainer, it does’t cost much to do and creates a good impression. They do have a similar CRUISE motivational customer service programme aboard P&O (the same as with Princess) but it seemed little more than a corporate slogan that staff didn’t care about and weren’t engaged with. To be honest, had it not been for the room steward, I would have given service a 1/10 rating. Simply not good enough. Ports of Call I’m not even going to give this section a rating, as unless you happen to be booked on exactly the same cruise as we went on, then it’s not going to be much help. I’ve never particularly liked the Caribbean and I still don’t. Although for warm, winter sunshine with comfortable temperatures in January you probably can’t get much better. That said, special mention to Grand Turk, which does away with most of the things I find less agreeable about the islands (no aggressive hawkers), with a fanatic cruise terminal right on the beach. The terminal is also complete with a large pool and beach sun loungers that are free to use, but supported by the fact that drinks are very expensive. However, in terms of cruise terminals I’ve been to worldwide, this was the best of the lot; without question. Disembarkation 8/10 Again P&O have really got this whole fly cruise thing sorted. The operation seems to run with almost military precision where they check you in for your return flight and handle your case all the way from your cabin to destination airport. This does create a few issues. Firstly if you are due to disembark on the second day of the turnaround, you still have to get up early on your second to last day to go clear the immigration at Barbados. Although the process was quick, it still involved getting up at 7am to do so; which had we know about we wouldn’t have bothered booking a tour that day so we could have done the clearance at our leisure. The second issue is that you need to pop all your stuff outside the night before you get off, so this means that any remaining liquids you need for the overnight and the next day need to fly with you in your hand luggage, so have to be under 100ml. As it happens we sacrificed a deodorant can and a tube of tooth paste on the last day, both being too big to fly, but both needed for the last day on board. Not much on an inconvenience, but next time I would bring small sized liquids especially for the last day. What was nice is that you remain on board until your flight is called; so for us we departed the cabin at 09:00 and were able to make most of an additional day until we disembarked at 2pm. They then bussed us straight to the airport where all we had to do was clear security. You couldn’t really get much smoother or straight forward. In Summary 8/10 If I had to use two words to sum up the whole experience, it would be “great value”. For what we paid we got a very good product, nice ship, nice food, smooth transfers and decent 2 weeks away in the winter sun. Would I book again? Yes probably, if the price was right. Although I don’t think I’d ever be rushing to book at the full price with P&O. The only thing that left a taste in the mouth was the service, or lack of. I think it is all the more annoying as it’s something that can be fixed with little cost, it just needs some proper passion instilling in the staff. I don’t like to leave review on a bad note, because the experience was good. But it should have been brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson Dreamliner flights were probably the most comfortable economy class flights we have had. The transfer was quick and easy. I was impressed with the infection control procedures, just a shame all passengers didn't follow them. Our cabin was small but well appointed, tea and coffee, a fridge with daily ice provided by our excellent steward and a very comfy bed. There was not much to watch on the TV. Lots of towels and you could take the blue ones ashore to use at the beach. All the staff were attentive. I was impressed with how quickly the tables were cleared. There was never any sign of litter and I only saw one fly in a fortnight! The food in the Beach house restaurant at night was our favourite. The freedom dining option was flexible, meaning that we could pick our entertainment and then fit dinner in to suit our itinerary. There was plenty of choice of entertainment and food venues. The drinks were not overpriced and the service charge was reasonable. The Sailaway parties were not my cup of tea, but you didn't have to go far to find a quiet spot to sit and watch the land disappear and the sunset. On sea days the decks are packed with sunbeds, some people had two each, one in the sun on in the shade, perhaps P&O need to employ a sunbed policeman. In conclusion two weeks in the Caribbean for £71.43 per person per night, including flights, can't be beaten. Two tips don't buy the bottled water, the tap water is fine. Do your own thing when ashore, it's cheaper.   Read Less
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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