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Sail Date: December 2010
After 25 years of me choosing the holidays, I thought it fair that my husband could choose this time. He suggested a Caribbean cruise and whilst I wasn't actually overjoyed at the suggestion' I agreed. After various ... Read More
After 25 years of me choosing the holidays, I thought it fair that my husband could choose this time. He suggested a Caribbean cruise and whilst I wasn't actually overjoyed at the suggestion' I agreed. After various weather-related traumas in the journey to get to Manchester airport and having to be 'de-iced' before we could fly to Barbados, our flight was very smooth and uneventful. The fact that we got straight onto a coach from the plane and then the smooth operation of going through customs etc at the ships side was excellent. We located our cabin quite easily. It was smaller than it appears on the website but was plenty big enough for what we needed it for. It was clean, comfortable and our Cabin Steward Edwin was very polite and helpful. The ship is lovely, quite easy to navigate around and I never at any point felt that there were 3000 passengers on with us. We chose selective dining which I was a bit unsure about(I was worried that we would be dining with people we just didn't connect with) nothing could be further from the truth as the 3 other couples we shared our table with (table 124 Bay Tree Restaurant you know who you are) were some of the loveliest people we have ever met and for me they made the time on the ship so pleasurable as we giggled our way through every evening meal. The service in this restaurant was excellent and the food on the whole was also first class. We tended to have our breakfast in The Waterside (self service buffet)good quality and plenty of options. On 3 occasions we had a room service breakfast which made a lovely change sitting on our balcony. We spent a romantic dinner for 2 in The White Room, which was very special (at a cost of £20 a head plus drinks). But the best meal by far was when we went as a table to the fusion restaurant of East, absolutely delicious and excellent service. (This costs £15 a head). Our favourite bar was The Tamarind Club which had different vocalists and we often went to watch different shows in the theatre. A highlight of the entertainment was Clem Curtis of the Foundations (Build me up buttercup) who at aged 70 can still get an audience on their feet dancing. Unfortunately our days at sea weather was quite iffy so we spent very little time sunbathing on deck, however on the couple of times we did sunbathe, while there isn't an abundance of sun-loungers we didn't have a lot of trouble finding some. OK my husband was right I did love cruising, although I wouldn't want to cruise every year. The highlights of the ship were definitely our fellow diners and I also enjoyed the sail aways from each port. We never actually went to the sail away parties up on deck but sat with a glass of wine on our balcony as the lovely Ventura quietly sailed from yet another beautiful island leaving us with even more lovely memories and watching the sun set on yet another perfect day. Our final port was St Lucia. Very picturesque but I don't think there was much to keep you in the port. So we hired a mini bus with 3 other couples and after a couple of viewpoint stops that had craft stalls at them we made our way for a wonderful viewing station overlooking the mighty Pitons (a volcano that over time has formed two peaks). We also witnessed the devastation that was caused by the hurricane they suffered in November where landslides took away huge parts of mountain sides and washed away a family of 6 and their house. Nothing has ever been found. We also visited Marigot Bay which is a beautiful beach, that is quintessentially Caribbean. WEATHER - Mainly sunny with clouds. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Our flight to Barbados was with Thomsons & we had booked premier class we were very happy with the flight & service. Had read that premier class was not worth the extra money but we felt the £99.00 each way represented good value ... Read More
Our flight to Barbados was with Thomsons & we had booked premier class we were very happy with the flight & service. Had read that premier class was not worth the extra money but we felt the £99.00 each way represented good value for money, with only 35 seats in premier it was much quieter and felt less cramped the service was very good, good choice of entertainment blankets & pillows provided along with a small amenity pack.Despite the snow our flight left slightly early. Really nice to leave your luggage at Manchester and not have to collect it in Barbados.check in staff at Manchester very strict on weight allowance, we saw people having to repack and throw things away just for being 1kg over weight. Couldn't believe how big Ventura was when we first saw her. We were on one of the last coaches from the airport so had to wait for a while in the immigration sheds at Barbados. Found our cabin easily and surprisingly we found our way around the ship without too many problems. I found it helpful to remember that if I was on brown coloured carpet I was at the front of the ship, red mid ship & grey rear of the ship. Very happy with our cabin mid ship on deck ten C deck, no noise or vibration and C deck have double size balconies half of which is shaded and private and half that you can enjoy some sunbathing on although this part is overlooked. Decent size cabin clean & comfortable with tea & coffee making facilities replenished daily.We had requested a double bed & found this a bit uncomfortable as it was two singles joined together. Powerful shower complimentary shower gel, shampoo conditioner & body lotion provided. We had chosen freedom dining & found this worked well for us we prefer to eat early & were allocated a table for two whenever requested. Had breakfast & lunch in the Saffron food & service very good. Tried the buffet at breakfast & lunch on a couple of occasions & while the food was good sometimes the tables, trays & cutlery were not as clean as they could have been. In the evening we went to either the Cinnamon or the Beach House the service in the Beach House was very good. The entertainment was mixed some good some not so good but there is so much choice I think most people would find something that they would enjoy. Captain Hamish Reid was was, friendly & entertained people on a daily basis with his dry sense of humour. All the public areas were clean, bright & modern & ventura is a lovely ship. The majority of the crew were kind & helpful. We met people from all walks of life & found everyone to be friendly & there just to enjoy their own holiday. The sail away parties were fun especially when other ships were leaving port around the same time.With the exception of the weather which was poor at times we could not fault all that Ventura offered.Would I cruise again no but that had nothing to do with Ventura cruising was simply not for me although we had calm seas I did not enjoy the movement of the ship & will probably not cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We cruised on Ventura 3-17 December 2010; our second time on P&O and our first Caribbean cruise although we have been to this part of the world many times for hotel-based holidays. We flew from Glasgow on a chartered First ... Read More
We cruised on Ventura 3-17 December 2010; our second time on P&O and our first Caribbean cruise although we have been to this part of the world many times for hotel-based holidays. We flew from Glasgow on a chartered First Choice plane with exclusively Ventura passengers on board. We paid the extra £99 each way for the premium seats, which was worth it for the extra leg room. You also get free drinks which you don't get in economy but of this flight everyone got free drinks courtesy of P&O. It was a real bonus to check-in our cases at Glasgow and then not have to handle them again until they were delivered to our cabin and no delay at the airport in Bridgetown as we were taken by coach to the check-in at the port. Our previous P&O cruise was on Azura which is almost exactly the same lay out as Ventura. We were in a balcony cabin at the stern of the ship on Deck C - we had a large balcony. The cabin was excellent with loads of room for our clothes. As we had experienced on Azura, the food was very good in the main restaurant. We were 'freedom dining' and ate in the Cinnamon Restaurant most nights. We rarely had to wait for a table for two, even at busy times. The restaurant manager was excellent; he was always attentive and made you feel very valued. We tried 'The White Room' which was well-worth the extra £20 per head. However, we found the food very rich. 'East' was also excellent, £15 extra for this one. We ate here twice and the staff were very friendly and helpful. We tried 'Ramblas' the tapas bar once and it was of a very high standard and inexpensive. We tried to have lunch there on our last day but it was closed. The disappointing dining experience was breakfast at the Waterside or Beach House buffets. We have been in better works canteens; the serving area is too narrow and it was very claustrophobic, especially during the peak serving times. The buffet areas need to be redesigned to make them more open; P&O could do worse that look at how Royal Caribbean manages to solve this problem. The choice at breakfast was also poor; only white toast and no bagels. We were concerned about stories of badly behaved passengers on Ventura on previous cruises. Although some of the people on the ship didn't exactly look like respectable 'cruisers' we didn't experience any problems; most people we met were very friendly. Not too many children around either. Not too many problems getting sun beds, even on sea days, although the beds around the main pool were very close together. We usually got beds on Deck 19, sports deck, and was generally quiet; we don't think some people even knew there were beds up there. One issue that was debated throughout the cruise was whether or not there should be Christmas decorations up or not. The captain decided that there would be none until the 17 December for the next cruise and there was hardly any Christmas music played either. No jogging track which is unfortunate. You can jog right around the ship on Deck 7 but there are usually lots of smokers there to get in your way. The deck is under cover as well so you can't enjoy the sunshine. The entertainment was hit-and-miss.; lots of 'dancing' related shows in the main theatre - not our cup of tea. Some of the tribute acts were good, especially Laura Butler who did two separate shows, first as Amy Winehouse and then Cher. The Freddie Mercury tribute was rubbish. There was a Scottish comedian, Anthony Scott, who we were warned could be offensive - he certainly was and he alienated most of his English audience within 2 minutes. It would have helped if he had been funny but he wasn't. We booked several excursions with P&O and without fail they were very well organised and we thought excellent value for money. One highlight was a snorkelling trip to 'Champagne Reef' in Dominica, snorkelling over the site of an active volcano; fantastic array of colourful fish. We weren't sure about P&O after our Azura cruise but we really enjoyed this one, we have already booked the same cruise for next December. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Overall we enjoyed our Ventura experience finding the captain's humour very contagious. For the main the staff in the dining rooms were helpful and courteous although (as with life generally) a few bad attitudes let down the ... Read More
Overall we enjoyed our Ventura experience finding the captain's humour very contagious. For the main the staff in the dining rooms were helpful and courteous although (as with life generally) a few bad attitudes let down the good guys. The bad and ugly has to be the self service restaurant on the top deck. No smiles or offers of help here, tables taking an age to clear and getting a drink to accompany your meal a real achievement. Lack of adhering to dress codes was a disappointment as was the calibre of younger passengers sporting tattoos and less than desirable language. The entertainment was a mixed bag of very good and not so good. Tom O'Connor was excellent and for the main the vocalists were too. Having said that we did make an early departure from some of the shows and 'passed their best'vocalists. The Beach Hut could have had a better booking system giving all passengers a chance to experience food of a more interesting, imaginative nature than the main dining halls. We found The White Room food enjoyable but not comparable to the fine dining we expected. The East Asian restaurant wasn't worth a £15 supplement albeit enjoyable. The curry lunches would have been improved with a varied menu. Full marks for the delivery of our luggage from Gatwick to our cabin, like wise from the Ventura to Gatwick. Small points that would have been appreciated, a replacement flower in cabins, an arrival welcome drink. Having said that the Christmas gifts of a pashmina and silver guff links were much appreciated by my husband and self. I can fully appreciate cost effectiveness is all important in making P/O cruises being competitive on their cruise prices especially in these hard times. BUT..., when paying approximately £280 a day (minus spending money) standards could have been better in the main dining halls and the entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We chose this Christmas cruise on Ventura simply because the itinerary and dates suited our schedule. We were on Azura 6 months before so knew what to expect. In fact we were surprised that the ships were so similar. Ventura is a couple of ... Read More
We chose this Christmas cruise on Ventura simply because the itinerary and dates suited our schedule. We were on Azura 6 months before so knew what to expect. In fact we were surprised that the ships were so similar. Ventura is a couple of years older but doesn't really show it. In fact, given a straight choice we would pick Ventura over Azura. Reason: the front Oasis Pool and surrounding deck is open to all, not just those paying for the retreat and the Casino/Pub area is much bigger as part of this deck area is used for the new single cabins on Azura. Being a Christmas cruise and this being Ventura we expected loads of kids. We were told there were 400 on board but we didn't really notice them as the kids clubs kept them occupied all day and to be honest we enjoyed the wide age range of people on this cruise, a much younger average than our previous med cruises. We met nice people of all age groups. The flights both ways were with Thomsons from Manchester: two hours delay outbound and 6 hours inbound. Very disappointed re these avoidable delays. We booked a month ahead and got a Superior Deluxe Cabin on D deck at a good price. This was lovely, spacious, nice sized bathroom and kept very clean. We were on Freedom dining in Cinnamon Restaurant and enjoyed it. We thought the choice was better than on Azura and the service, though still variable, was better than Azura where they were still finding their feet when we were on her. The Restaurant Manager was superb in ensuring we had the Vegetarian Menu presented nightly to choose the next evenings' meal. I think every ship has issues re buffet dining. It's impossible to provide the space necessary to feed the numbers that want to eat at peak times so finding space can be difficult but surely its either this or less deck space? I have to say that the people complaining about a lack of tables were the same ones who would drink cup of tea after cup of tea and hog a table for ages. We thought the breakfast choice to be good, well cooked and hot. Whilst the choice was the same each day, you could concoct your own breakfasts and differ it each day plus you could order eggs as you wanted them and they had good veggie bacon and sausage available to order as well as perfectly cooked poached eggs. We found the entertainment the same as Azura. The headliners shows were poor yet again, verging on embarrassing. The acrobats during the main headliners show were amazing though it's just the rest of the headliners remind me of a 1970s variety show. As on Azura, we like the choice of places to drink in the evening and especially Ramblas which was quiet and you could order a large glass of wine for £3.25 - a bargain. This was our first Caribbean cruise and to be honest the stops disappointed. Little to see without going on tours or taxis and apart from Aruba the beaches didn't impress. However we were happy with a few hours on shore and then returning to ship to relax on deck. Much will be said of the New Orleans fiasco. 3000 passengers and 1200 crew all requiring immigration clearance. The Captain did warn everyone before arriving that there would be delays but the understatement was that 'all available immigration desks would be open'. There were only 8 desks! Some passengers were not cleared until it was too dark to see New Orleans. Ultimately this is a reflection of the US over the top attitude to immigration. On the scale of things a cruise ship docking for the day should be low risk but the US Border Agency don't asses risk. Any risk has to be controlled irrespective of the damage caused to tourism. I'm not sure P&O could have done more. Yes Azura had the same issue when it docked in New Orleans the week before but knowing this what should have been done? Withdraw this port of call from our trip at short notice? This wasn't possible as many people were disembarking in New Orleans for their flight home. There were people flying home the next day from New Orleans and perhaps P&O could have ensured that they were able to get through the immigration mob relatively early to be given a chance to see the town on the only day possible (people staying on for a month had two days to see the town). I feel a little sorry for P&O who are being made the scapegoat for this issue when the blame mostly lies with the US authorities. However, given the issues I don't believe P&O should be using New Orleans on future itineraries as the first port of call in the US. Finally, this was our first time away at Christmas and we enjoyed it. P&O added some nice touches, Christmas cards from the Captain (Hamish Reid who was superb), presents on Christmas Eve, a nice Christmas Day meal, a pantomime and carols. We would chose them again for a similar trip and for those trying to decide between Azura and Ventura, there is a lot of hype re Azura so if it's a straight choice between the two then let the itinerary, dates and price make your choice as there is little to choose between them. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We had an excellent first time cruise. The ship, food and staff were faultless throughout. However after reading on Cruise Critic that the Marco Pierre White restaurant is often fully booked prior to embarkation we followed advice that ... Read More
We had an excellent first time cruise. The ship, food and staff were faultless throughout. However after reading on Cruise Critic that the Marco Pierre White restaurant is often fully booked prior to embarkation we followed advice that you can book in advance. The P&O office pointed out that we had to buy a £20 p.p. supplement voucher. I was then asked whether I wanted white or red wine at a cost of £16 per bottle. I queried this as it was nonsensical that I would know which wine I would choose before knowing what I was going to eat. However I was told that was the system, so I opted for white wine at a total cost of £56. Once on the ship I discovered there was plenty of availability and we chose to eat in the restaurant on the first formal evening. We chose our food and I explained that actually although I had opted for white wine I would now prefer a more appropriate red wine. It was explained by the waiter and then the restaurant manager that my original chosen wine was brought on board at Southampton and whilst I could have something else at an additional cost I had to take ownership of the one I had originally chosen. I asked to see the wine and it was brought to the table - once opened we found it was a bottle of very cheap and nasty Chardonnay. The staff in the restaurant said this procedure had caused problems several times before and they recommended I speak to P&O shoreside as they felt it was a ridiculous system. Returning home I wrote to P&O to complain and ask why they didn't just ask for a £16 payment up front to contribute to the wine, but in their response they completely missed the point and said 'for any passenger who is uncertain of what wine they would like we can only advise that they wait until they are on the ship before booking into the restaurant'. Two lessons - there was plenty of availability for the restaurant, and if you do buy a voucher for yourselves or friends tell P&O they/you do not drink alcohol and choose once on board. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
The combination of fabulous service, really good food, a comfortable cabin, interesting ports, and fabulous weather mean that any whinges are indeed minor. It did surprise me however the number of people my wife and I chatted to on the ... Read More
The combination of fabulous service, really good food, a comfortable cabin, interesting ports, and fabulous weather mean that any whinges are indeed minor. It did surprise me however the number of people my wife and I chatted to on the ship who did just that, whinge about every minor issue. Do regular cruisers often say "the toast is better on Celebrity" and similar? If so, how sad is that, as it must spoil their enjoyment. I have listed many good points in my opening sentence, but would also add that the price of alcohol on board was very competitive. I also enjoyed the art gallery, the ambiance of the Metropolis bar (and the fabulous performances of the duo Sophistication), the exemplary organisation of embarquation and disembarquation, the friendliness of the staff and other passengers. My minor whines are as follows: The pool areas are a bit like Butlins on a bad day, very crowded and noisy. The excursions are expensive. Charging £20 a person for a photo with the captain as the only way to see the bridge. Too many "tribute acts" in the entertainment. Very few quiet areas, as musak is everywhere (I ended up sitting out on the promenade deck) All in all we had a fabulous time, the most relaxing holiday ever. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
I booked this cruise after being made redundant and wanting to do something nice with the money. When I printed the e-ticket 48 hours before we left, I found we had been upgraded to cabin D307, from L311. We arrived at Manchester ... Read More
I booked this cruise after being made redundant and wanting to do something nice with the money. When I printed the e-ticket 48 hours before we left, I found we had been upgraded to cabin D307, from L311. We arrived at Manchester airport early to find that the check in had also opened early. We were through check in within 15 minutes and checked into the airport lounge. On arrival at Barbados we were straight off the plane and onto a bus which took us straight to the ship's embarkation sheds (like a large hangar). Although the queues were long, this took about 20 minutes and we were on board. We found we had been upgraded to a mini suite with a king size bed, a bath and shower, a pamper pack and waiting for us was a bottle of champagne on ice, chocolates and a flower arrangement. The only slight downside was that we had to wait 3.5 hours for our luggage to be delivered to the cabin, something we had not anticipated. But, wearing bathrobes and sipping champagne while we waited was not hard! At St Lucia, Marco Pierre White joined the cruise, much to hubby's surprise as he thought that although there was fine dining, Marco would never actually be on the ship. We were booked on Freedom Dining and so ate when we felt like it. The pager system used by the Cinnamon restaurant if they were full was a bonus as we could go for a drink or relax in our room until a table was ready. We also liked the Waterside buffet, although finding a seat was not always easy. The bar and restaurant staff were fabulous, attentive and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for our room steward and he was so quick at sorting out our room that we joked he must hide under the bed and clean up as soon as we went out! The ship is beautifully decorated throughout and although we got lost a few times, there were plenty of signs to redirect us. Hubby especially liked the well equipped gym. Ventura is so large that although they were nearly at capacity, we could always find a quiet spot to sunbathe and read if we wanted to. Some of the shows we found a little disappointing. One comedian was quite unfunny and some of the productions were slightly amateur (especially the background displays) but then again, we were not in the West end of London. The entertainment staff were brilliant, especially Greer and Jenny who smiled all day and really engaged the passengers without being pushy. I was really sad to leave Ventura and the Caribbean and would love to go back but we have decided to try out other P&O ships and different destinations first to see if they are as good as our first cruise. We weren't sure if cruising was for us but now that we have tried it, I can honestly say that it's the way forward if you want better than 5 star pampering with top notch food and brilliant destinations. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We booked the Caribbean cruise on the Ventura a little sceptically as the last cruise we did on Costa was awful and the one before that on Ocean Village was not as good as the first one with them. Ventura - well run, friendly, and ... Read More
We booked the Caribbean cruise on the Ventura a little sceptically as the last cruise we did on Costa was awful and the one before that on Ocean Village was not as good as the first one with them. Ventura - well run, friendly, and excellent food, the restaurant staff were also excellent nothing was too much trouble. We had 2nd sitting in the dining room this worked for us as it gave us time to shower and chill for an hour or so after getting back from our trips out. After dinner we went to see the shows, such as they were, we had no trouble finding a seat but go 15 mins before start of performance as they always start on time.The entertainment in the Arena Theatre was ok, not great but ok, the same few performers in every show just in a different order. You need to check the daily activity paper to find out where the entertainment is in the various bars we missed a lot because we thought the theatre was the best place to go. We had a balcony cabin (would not cruise without one) the only problem with it was it was the first on at the bow end a long way to walk to reach the restaurants etc but that was really a minor issue and after all my choice when booking. I found the ship very easy to find my way round and if you remember every time you get out of a lift you are facing the front of the ship you can't go wrong. The prices for drinks on board was very reasonable we were pleasantly surprised no more expensive than in a pub at home. We did find the prices in general in the Caribbean a lot more expensive than the last time we went a couple of years ago but that is not P & 0's fault. To vacate your cabin by 9am on the day of departure is too early considering you don't get the cabin till late afternoon when you embark. The organized trips were expensive, use local taxis the taxi drivers are very switched on and will give you all the info you want and the best places to visit. We would definitely Venture on th Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
last year we were not very impressed with Ventura and felt that food quality and service were not to the standard we expected. The improvements were very noticeable with better menu choices and the food quality was certainly to a better ... Read More
last year we were not very impressed with Ventura and felt that food quality and service were not to the standard we expected. The improvements were very noticeable with better menu choices and the food quality was certainly to a better standard. The ship was efficiently managed and the raucous sailaway parties had been moderated. This time round we had a balcony cabin - so much better and we would never cruise again without having a balcony. Finding our way around the ship was much easier having been aboard before and having a cabin at the bow end meant we always knew which direction to walk! Others felt differently, one lady brought her husband to a talk just so he could help her find her way back to their cabin!! One plus as far as we were concerned was that Catalina Island was missed out and Grenada substituted - P&O said this was due to berthing difficulties but various other reasons were bandied about. We still feel that some shore excursions were poor value and preferred to use local taxis. At St Vincent we used the Sea Breeze ( look for the bearded skipper and green sun shade ) water taxi to reach the beach as this seemed the most substantial boat available as the sea was quite rough. Being on Freedom Dining also worked for us but even so we were often too late to find a seat in the arena theatre fro the 9 o'clock shows - you need to be there at least 15 minutes before they start. There was an outbreak of norovirus halfway through the trip but stricter hygene procedures were swiftly implemented and the spread was contained. All in all a very satisfactory cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Excellent flight from Doncaster, on time and lots of leg room, not worth paying for premium, we did that last year and didnt find much difference. The ship was amazing and suited out needs perfectly. As we were travelling with our son aged ... Read More
Excellent flight from Doncaster, on time and lots of leg room, not worth paying for premium, we did that last year and didnt find much difference. The ship was amazing and suited out needs perfectly. As we were travelling with our son aged 9 we chose Ventura because of its excellent facilities and they didnt disappoint at all, in fact they need a massive wage rise!! The restaurants were all exceptional, we booked freedom dining and always got a table around 8.30pm, the waiters are to be commended for their service and the food outstanding, even the breakfasts in the saffron were silver service!! Metropolis bar very good and our port of call every evening before dinner. The only bad experience I had was in the spa, and having read some other reviews I think people must have experienced the same person as I did. One particular man,think he was the manager was very abrupt when I queried a price on 50% discount day, and he really did leave a bitter taste, which put me off visiting the spa again. Saying that all the other spa staff were very friendly. Our cabin steward Grenville was the business and delivered canapes to us most evenings before dinner!! A special mention to the wine waitress in cinnamon think her name was Eloise?? she worked tirelessly every evening and always smiled. To sum up, very good ship, perfect for families, could get a sunbed on seadays, excellent food, bar prices reasonable and great company. We previously sailed on Norwegian Gem and found that this ship had a little more WOW factor than Ventura but we still enjoyed all the same. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
First off let me get straight to the point, I will cover some negative aspects in this review and some positives, they are just my point of view and I have included so much information to give readers of this review as much info as ... Read More
First off let me get straight to the point, I will cover some negative aspects in this review and some positives, they are just my point of view and I have included so much information to give readers of this review as much info as possible. Bottom line is we had a fantastic holiday and I would fly out to Barbados and Ventura again tomorrow. Would I choose Ventura again? maybe but I also like trying out new ships and I think there are other ships which would possibly suite my needs better than Ventura. Having said that one of the reasons we booked Ventura was the itinerary, some of the other ships we would like to have tried were not going for the duration we wanted or the islands we wanted to visit. Would I go on Ventura again for the first time? Defiantly. Our background. I am 30 and my partner Anna is 29. Anna is allergic to wheat, one of the reasons we like cruising is the reassurance they can cater for her diet. We have cruised twice previously once on P&O Oceana (6 years ago) and once on Carnival Splendor (2008). This is the first time we had booked a balcony cabin as on our previous 2 cruises we have been in an inside. Our Cabin was R259 which is on the starboard side about a 3rd of the way down the ship on deck 14. We were on 2nd sitting in the Saffron dinning room. We flew from Birmingham on the 9.15am flight with Thompson Fly. We arrived at the airport early as we were told you get allocated your seats at checkin. we were about 3.5 hours early, check in was open but there was no queue. There was no need for us to have arrived so early as passengers with special dietary needs have their seats pre-booked near the front of the aircraft so it's easy to identify them in order to distribute their food. The flight was delayed so we ended up waiting almost 6 hours in the airport (not a great start). The aircraft was a Boeing 767 2-4-2 seat configuration. The legroom was good but the seat width was not great. The entertainment system is ok but you have to upgrade to get the better films which we did not do. Drinks are mostly free you get 1 after take off and 1 with each meal. The meals were average plane food. The flight was good for a charter airline but the service was not as good as on a schedule carrier IMO. Flight time was 9 hours. Once landed we were told it was approx an hour to get to the ship. This is a load of rubbish we were stood on the dock 20 minutes later and we arrived on a Friday during rush hour. From the peer Ventura looked very impressive, large but well proportioned. Check in and cruise card distribution was quick, we dodged the photographers at the dock, why they think anyone would want a photo taken after 9+ hours of traveling is beyond me. First impression of the ship was very good the atrium is smaller than I thought it would be but overall the decor was very tasteful and elegant. The deck looked very spacious and well designed. Our cabin was wonderful, the balcony was reasonably large with good unobstructed views. You could see down on to some of the larger balconies below but only if you hung over the rail. Our beds were 2 twins but a quick word with our cabin steward rectified that and we came back to a king sized double later on in the evening. The walk in wardrobe is very good with loads of space, a few more hangers would have been useful so take a couple of your own if you have loads of things to hang. The bathroom was small but well designed and adequate. The TV was fantastic, good on demand movies and shows along with the ability to check your onboard account. The channels are a little limited but let's face it you don't go on a cruise to sit in your cabin watching TV. The hair dryer is a little poor if you have very long hair it might be wise to take your own. Dinner on the first night is not at your normal table and the time you go depends on what time your flight leaves, its also casual dress so you don't need to worry about you case not arriving before dinner, as was our case with the flight being delayed. We set sail about 8pm and the first thing I noticed was how stable the ship is, very smooth indeed you cannot tell your moving. I found over the whole holiday even in some rough weather Ventura copes with the sea very well. Food in general was very good especially in the dinning room. Its typical P&O British food choices. Each night there was a choice of 3 starters, 2 soups, 5 mains, 5 deserts, cheeses & biscuits and fruit. Then tea or coffee. On top of that you could also always get melon or prawn cocktail as a starter and steak, chicken or salmon for a main and a selection of ice cream and sorbet for desert. The waiters are superb as they are on all cruises you can get anything as you want it. The food was very British and we got Beef Wellington, Leg of Lamb, Roast Pork, Roast Turkey etc as well as some very nice fish and oriental dishes. The potatoes and veg are silver served with plenty of variety. The food certainly matched what we had sampled on previous cruises. There were a couple of nights where the odd dish was poor like very dry pheasant but your waiter will change anything that's not to your liking. We had a really nice couple on our table at dinner as well as our friends who were on the cruise with us. Dinner was so good every night we did not bother with The White Room, East or Ramblers. We ate in the dinning room most mornings for breakfast, there is the usual traditional British full English as well as kippers omelets and a chefs special like minute steak. We met some very nice people every morning and everyone like ourselves was having a good time. No complaints from anyone really. We also regularly indulged in afternoon tea. Again very traditional with cake stands, neat cut sandwiches, scones, crumpets etc... they even do a gluten free selection if you ask. We occasionally ate lunch and breakfast in the buffet, never had a problem finding somewhere to sit. The food was good, with a large selection. I did not really see the point of the beach house, it just seem like an extension to the Waterside buffet and always seemed the serve the same food it was open for breakfast until 12.00 which was useful if you wanted a lie in. Frankies pizza was ok, the menu seemed a little strange to me with a selection of 4 pizzas Margaret + another 3 I had never heard of. It seemed a bit pretentious to me, when people go to order pizza it's for a snack and they just want something quick, something they know. It would seem sensible to have had things like pepperoni and Hawaiian rather than Diavola etc... The same could be said for Frankie's grill, the chefs took ages putting mayo, salad etc.. on burgers and trying to get them perfect while the queue got longer and longer. Don't get me wrong the burgers and pizzas were good but possibly going gourmet on these meals is a step too far. The interesting thing is we met very few moaners. There was a big mix of fist time and experienced cruisers onboard but neither set of people did any moaning. There was the occasional small comment about something but in general most of the comments were positive, the only negative comments from some people were the ship was too big so hard to find your way around. I agree it was easy to get lost on the first couple of days but for me this added to the exploring which is one of my favorite parts of a cruise. A couple suggested Independence of the Seas to us as a better large ship and another couple liked the QM2, in general most passengers seemed happy with Ventura. During our 3rd day on board the captain came over the PA to tell us there had been some cases or Noro Virus on the ship and as such they would start a sanitation process. We were told their would be changes to how our food was served in all restaurants. If you felt ill or had diarrhea you had to dial 999 from your cabin phone, I assume you would be confined to the cabin. The main differences were in the self service restaurants you could no longer serve yourself the staff served you. In the dinning room the cake stands were removed at afternoon tea and everything was served by the waiters. Salt, pepper and sugar pots were removed from the tables and sachets were provided. We also saw staff regularly cleaning door handles, rails and the machines in the casino. The captain gave us an update every day and after about 4 days the extra precautions were relaxed. The staff were excellent though out this time and kept smiling even though it was obvious they were working twice as hard and being put under a lot of extra pressure. The sand bank!!!! We anchored up at Catalina Island, I did notice the ship seems to be listing to one side and Anna joked we were probably on a sand bank? The joke was on us though as an hour after we were supposed to depart the captain came on and announced we were stuck on an uncharted sandbank. A dive crew came over from the Dominican Republic to check for damage. About 5 hours later we got the all clear and the ship was (in the captains words) lifted off the bank. Sand Bank no.2: We missed going to Martinique because of civil unrest and the island was changed to Dominica instead. We anchored up again, after a day kayaking we were ready to leave but there was a delay. At dinner that night one of the people dinning with us said he had seen the ship move left and right as if it was stuck, after much movement there was a jolt and he saw a large hill of sand move from under the from of the ship? It seems we had been stuck on another sand bank but the captain had kept quiet about this one. At St Martin we were late leaving again his time it was because some people were late back to the ship, one of them was quite drunk and we saw what looked like the security officer having stern words with them before they were aloud back onboard. In general the other passengers were very courteous and a friendly bunch. There was no Butlins style roundness as reported about Ventura in some of the press. There were a couple of people who were slightly drunk in the casino on occasions but before anything could get even remotely out of hand the staff were very quick and firm with them. Security was tight and I think P&O are determined not to get a bad reputation following the much reported Christmas Cruise. The Entertainment: This is where the ship could be accused of being "Butlins Style" but this is only because of the variety of entertainment. Neil the cruise director reminded me a little of Dale Winton, to be fair to him he was full of life and seemed to engage the people on board. The entertainment was plentiful and varied. If you liked Butlins style watching the entertainments team make idiots out of themselves the sail always were the place to be, silly dancing and pop music were a plenty on deck. I hate this type of entertainment so avoided it at all cost. BUT there were a great number of people who enjoyed it and joined in. It also means other parts of the ship were quiet and I could enjoy a drink on another part of the deck and watch us depart in peace. There were a couple of good sing a longs on deck after the sail away Butlins dancing, with everyone joining in. I think there were a lot of people on board from Manchester because as soon as "You will never walk alone" started people started booing (this was a bit of a shame). In the day there were lots of quizzes and also bingo, the bingo calling was quite funny, most of these activities were done in the exchange which was an excellent English style pub. They showed lots of football on the big screen and replayed many matches that were on early in the day in the UK. The exchange was our favorite hang out as the casino is part of it. The Casino was disappointing, we are regular visitors to Las Vegas and although we rarely gamble at home we love to gamble in the casino. The dealers were all miserable apart from 1 young guy who we found out was the trainee. They had a poker tournament every night at 10pm which was no good for us because we were on 2nd sitting dinner. On the last night the casino was open they played some stupid black jack tournament which took up 1 of the black jack tables, not many people played the tournament which meant a table stood empty for most of the night. The other table was packed and it was impossible to get a seat. Many of the gaming lessons did not happen when they were supposed to which was also annoying. The 1 positive was they made sure people did not hog seats on the table if they were not playing. The smoke free environment was also bliss, this is the first time I have visited a casino with a smoking ban and it was fantastic. Another downside is the waiters seemed to ignore the people playing cards so it was difficult to get a drink if you were mid shoe. The casino being so poor is one thing that may push me to going on an American ship rather than a British on. The shows were of good quality. I work in the music industry as the technical manager of a large state of the art live music venue. The ships theatre was superbly equipped and while we only went to a couple of the shows as its too much like being at work the standard was what I would expect from a touring theatre company. If you like shows you will enjoy them, the singers could sing and the dancers could dance. It was all a bit cheesy for my liking but some people love that. The 2 show lounges Havana and The Tamarind Club were very similar, we watched a couple of jazz bands in the Tamarind Lounge, they were poor, professional musicians should be able to play in time and in tune and with some life. The singer and guitarist in the Exchange were also poor, they occasionally played in Metropolis too but I found the standard very amateur. Non of these people were bad but I would have expected the standard to be a lot higher as you can see much better acts who play for free in places like the Bedford or Regal Rooms in London. Also the volume and sound quality in the exchange was not good, too loud so you could not talk and very harsh, the sound should have been much softer. The comedians were all excellent. The late night shows in Havana were a little on the rude side, it did not bother me at all and I found the comedians very funny. The comedy shows in the theatre were just about family friend and were again of a good quality. The guy in the theatre who did the mind reading was also very good, I could work out how he did most of the tricks but the last one was almost unbelievable. It was fantastic entertainment. We always went to the 7.30pm show in the theatre most nights it's was not even half full and easy to get a seat. We went to one 11pm show and it was not full you could get a seat. The clubs were also very busy after dinner, when the comics were on it was standing room only. The club style lounges were always more popular than the theatre. Metropolis is a bar on the top deck to the rear of the ship, we used it a couple of times, and it's quieter than the lounges probably because it's a bit out of the way. We found the entertainment in their poor as it was either the singer or a disco. The exchange featured game show style quiz shows most night too. One night there were some young children running round the pub which was a little annoying as it was 11pm and their parents did not seem to be able to control them. IMO children of that age (6-8sih) should not been in a pub at that time of night. This was the only case of its kind though. Ok out on deck and the pools: The deck space is large and the designers have done a very good job getting the maximum out of the space available. There are lots of sun beds and they are close together as other people have reported, this did not bother me at all really as I would rather have more sun beds than more space. On a sea day is was extremely difficult to find a sun bed unless you went up on deck early and put your towel on one. On sea days there was not a problem at all. It was obvious people were complaining about sun bed reserving as everyday in the paper it said P&O don't police sun bed reserving but we think this practice is rude and would advise passengers that if a sun bed is unattended for 30 minutes they are to assume it is unavailable. Well P&O you're going to have to start policing sun beds or have a section people can reserve in advance. Personally I think you should be able to reserve a sun bed for ½ a day in advance, if this was the case there would be plenty for everyone, half the people could use them in the morning and half in the afternoon. The thing that really annoyed me is on our last day in port, I had put a book and towel on my sun bed and gone to get a drink. There were 100's of beds available as it was a port day but when I returned not more than 10 minutes later my towel was gone but my book was still their. A lady told me one of the crew had taken the towel????? This annoyed me because A) there were lots of beds available and B) why did they not do this sort of thing on sea days when it is busy. One good thing about 2 of the pools was a large stepped area you could sit on. This was great because if you wanted to swim but did not want to fight to find a sun bed you could put your towel and clothes on the steps and see them while you were in the pool, you could then dry off in that area. This was a good design feature which I have not seen on other ships. We did not use the pool on sea days it was just too busy. On port days we mainly used the Oasis pool which is at the front of the ship, its well shaded and adults only. The pools were all nice, not many kids around them really and the ones who were were well behaved. The hot tubs round the pool were good and its difficult to get out of them once you're in the temperature was so pleasant. The staff round the pool were very good and you did not have to wait long for a drink. With the sunbeds being so close the only slight problem was having somewhere to put a drink down once you had it. The gym is very well equipped and I used it regularly. It lacks some heavier weights and there are not many free weights. You will be able to keep in shape but many have to vary you routine a little. I found the gym a little hot the air-con could have done with being cooler. In fact I thought the whole ship was a little on the warm side and I always had to take my jacket off at dinner. We went on just 2 excursions organized by P&O. I would recommend you book your excursions early as we missed out on a few things we would have liked to have done because we did not book up in time. The excursions we went on were excellent and I would recommend you book directly with P&O rather than with the touts at the ports, it's more expensive but much better value for money. Also be warned if you're going to St Lucia and you want to visit the sulpher springs, waterfalls and pitons it's a long drive. It looks short on the map but takes almost 2 hours each way because of the windy roads up and down mountains. It's not that impressive either and is something I could have missed. If you do want to go there I would recommend a boat trip there rather than a taxi. In summery I think P&O have tried to make Ventura a ship which is everything to everyone and they have got quite close. For people with an open mind who are tolerant of things which are not there thing this is a fantastic ship. It really will have almost everything you want but also things you don't want. If your looking for problems you will find them, if you look hard enough, but do people really go on holiday to find problems and complain? I wanted the following from the ship: A casino with blackjack and poker 1/2 Gluten free food 1/1 Fine dinning with a dress code 2/2 A well equipped gym 1/1 A bar which showed the football 1/1 A ship which was steady in rough weather 1/1 To not be ill 1/1 Movies under the stars 0/1 Friendly people and a good atmosphere 2/2 Friendly staff who put the customer first 2/2 Child free pools 1/1 Good live bands and comedians 1/2 Afternoon Tea 1/1 So as you can see I got almost everything I wanted and I think this would be the same for everyone and there is loads more I have not mentioned which I did not take part in. Improvements: I would say movies under the stars is a must, they have the space to do it so why not? I cannot believe it would be expensive for P&O to fit a jumbotron screen and mini line array in the covered pool area? It could be used in good and bad weather. The Casino as mentioned above could have been run much more efficiently and the casino dealers were the only people who let the staff down IMO. Immigration at Barbados: On the 2nd last day you must go to Havana bar and go though Barbados immigration. If your on an excursion you have to go early and everyone is given a staggered time. I got up at 7.15 our allotted time was 7.30 which is when we joined the queue. The queue stretched almost the length of the ship. It seems talking to the staff this is common. The immigration staff are on Barbados time which means they are always 30 minutes late. The other problem was most people had turned up early and not at their allotted time. This meant by the time the immigration staff arrived the queue doubled back on itself and was 2 ship lengths long with what looked like every passenger in the queue. I would say P&O need to have a think of a better way of doing this, once the queue started moving it was fine but we had a very rushed breakfast in order to make it to our excursion on time. The same people who decided to turn up early for the immigration queue and cause a jam on deck 7, were probably the same people who decided when they called rows 1-14 on the aircraft it did not mean rows 1-14, but everyone. So again we all queued for the buss to get to the aircraft and then queue again to actually get on the plane. This is not P&O's fault but some customer must realize they give you a time for a reason just like they call rows at a time on the aircraft for a reason. Live bands: some better live music, I think a good covers band who play popular 60's, 70's and 80's music would go down very well, it would be much better than a DJ or the singers performing to backing music. You should be able to book your seat on the flight IMO. If your spending a lot of money on a holiday you want to be relaxed when you arrive. As a nervous flyer this part of the holiday was very stressful for me. Also I really think P&O should use a carrier who can provide business class and/or even first class seats. I could not afford it at the moment but surely if your playing £15,000.00 for a suite on the ship you would not mind paying for a business class seat on the plane. It also struck me a lot more people would be interested in paying for premium economy. P&O if your reading this its all more money in the bank for you, you should know airlines make more money from their premium and business class seats. Positives: The comics were great fantastic entertainment. The dining room, great waiters at dinner, they were amazing and worked tirelessly. Superb pools and deck layout made the most of the deck space. Lots going on, never a moment to get bored the entertainments team provided something for everyone. Steady ship, it moved a bit in bad weather but generally I found it very stable Friendly people everywhere, a good atmosphere and lots of people who wanted to make conversation and meet others. Well organized tenders, we did not have to wait once Well designed pools Great excursions Good interactive TV which gave you lots of information Ships paper horizon was superb and gave all the info you needed. Cabins were large and had nice balconies, the walk in wardrobe was very useful. The rooms are well equipped with tea, coffee, biscuits, hair dryer etc... Cheap drinks, no automatically added gratuities on the drinks and they were all priced reasonably Dress code was adhered to by almost everyone and the majority of people even made an effort on the casual nights. Afternoon tea Embarkation, Disembarkation was easy To sum up: If your booked on Ventura, your going to have a great time, go with an open mind and with the mind set to enjoy yourself and you most certainly will. If your thinking of booking you can't go far wrong with this ship. If you want a mix of traditional British cruising with a modern twist this is the ship for you, it has something for everyone young and old. I hope this have come across as a balanced review I have tried to mention both positives and negatives as well as our experience of the ship. The bottom line is we had a great holiday and we will be cruising again some time very soon. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
This ship was much larger but did not feel as crowded as Navigator and there was a more sedate atmosphere. However, there were plenty of people in their 20s and thirties aboard and several weddings. There were only about 60 children and we ... Read More
This ship was much larger but did not feel as crowded as Navigator and there was a more sedate atmosphere. However, there were plenty of people in their 20s and thirties aboard and several weddings. There were only about 60 children and we sailed out of school holidays, so I appreciate it is different in those periods.The cabins are clean and spacious with good facilities. All still looking new and nice touches such as the tea service and fridge. The bathrooms are small but the hanging space instead of wardrobes, is a good idea. We had a balcony for the first time and would recommend if the price is right. We had a last minute upgrade so only paid £100 more than an inside. The cabin steward was very efficient although rarely seen. The ship has many bars and cabaret areas. Our favourites were the Ramblas and the Metropolis. The dining venues were great and we tried all the restaurants except the white room which was always booked. A great asset was the Freedom Dining option. We enjoyed being able to eat at any time from 6-9.30 and having a table size of our choice. There were no queues and the food was excellent. The gym and spa area were well utilized and we booked the thermal spa package for the fortnight. The pool areas were clean but I would agree that the sun beds were rather packed together. However finding a bed was not a problem for us. The areas near the Oasis pool were usually less crowded and there is also plenty of shade behind the sports court. The islands are all very enjoyable and it is easy to book an island tour with one of the many local taxi drivers who congegrate at the port. Most offer 2 or 3 hour tours for about $25 and often have minibuses. They usually wait until about 8-10 passengers are available and then set off. We only took one ship tour which was in St Vincent. It would probably be possible to book your own there, but it was a Sunday and our first port, so we pre booked.St Marten was our favourite with Antigua coming a close second. The flights to Barbados and back were all with First Choice. We were lucky that they were on time and there is reasonable leg room and good in flight entertainment. Free drinks were offered and the transfers were all very smooth. I would not hesitate to recommend this ship and company. However, the entertainment did let down the overall experience and there was also a lack of activities, lectures, concerts etc which we have experienced on other ships. 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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