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Sail Date: December 2011
Have just returned from our fist ever cruise over the xmas period on the Ventura. only booked it 2 weeks before sailing, so got a very good deal. Overall the ship is fine,but there are a few things that I think PO could look into. We ... Read More
Have just returned from our fist ever cruise over the xmas period on the Ventura. only booked it 2 weeks before sailing, so got a very good deal. Overall the ship is fine,but there are a few things that I think PO could look into. We arrived in Barbados somewhat late due to the flight being delayed for over 2 hours (thomas cook). Bye the time we got to the port, it was already dark, and the checkin queue was quite long, not what you need after a 9 hour flight. The cabin was fine, but had to go and eat wearing the same clothes as we had travelled in as cases did not turn up till a few hours later.The Waterside is ok, but I think the trays are a waste of time, because if you get salad, soup and dinner all in one go, the already luke warm dinner is going to be cold time you eat it! And why do they put the soup at the end of the buffet selection? We was told on our paperwork we had freedom dining, but card in the cabin said we were on 1st sitting on a table of 8. We prefer smaller tables so after querying this at the restaurant was told freedom was full, but was given a table for 2.So that was ok. We did not find out till 2 days before the end of the cruise that the Beechhouse did waiter service evening meal, but its the same menu every night, and they only serve about 50 at a time, so you have to queue well before 6 for the 6.30 opening time to make sure of getting a seat. Only used it once, but it was good, all freshly cooked , so no complaints On the first day at sea, I did not go on deck till quite late, and could not find a sunbed in the sun anywhere, ,ended up in the shade at the back of the ship. Think you needed to put your stuff on a bed about 6am, if you wanted to be near a pool, even though they say no reserving of sunbeds, nobody takes any notice, and I never saw any staff removing items, as stated they would. The entertainment was a bit hit and miss, to much singing and dancing, and you needed to get in the Havana early to get a decent seat, or you ended up behind the walls! not being able to see much at all. Why have they got stupid partitions, or why are they not lower? Yes I do agree the staff are not as friendly as other ships ive been on, and I dont think one of our dinner waiters smiled once the whole time he served us. Also on the first 2 occasions I ordered steak, was not given a steak knive, and when I mentioned it on the 3rd occasion, Mr Grumpy said I should have asked for one! We had a day at Catalina Island, which is just a beach with a few tacky shops, but has a huge BBQ cooking area, which the ships crew are supposed to use for the lunch. But by 1pm, there was no sign of any BBQ being prepared, so if you wanted anything to eat , it was back to the ship (a tender job). We found out later that the hygeine officer had visited the cooking area before we all went ashore, and was not satisfied with it, so no BBQ! So they knew before we all went over, but there were no announcements made on the ship telling us. Would I go on the Ventura again, only if it was a bargain price, but prefer other cruise companies Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew from Gatwick to Barbados with Thomas Cook whcih was ok - flight passed quite quickly and got straight off plane at Barbados, onto coach and taken straight to ship avoiding the airport formalities entirely. Wished I had put ... Read More
We flew from Gatwick to Barbados with Thomas Cook whcih was ok - flight passed quite quickly and got straight off plane at Barbados, onto coach and taken straight to ship avoiding the airport formalities entirely. Wished I had put shorts,t shirt and flip flops into flight bag as had to stay in winter clothing for three hours until luggage delivered to cabin but should have known having cruised previously. We had an outside obstructed view cabin which looked between two lifeboats so still had a bit of a sea view. Cabin was spacious and kept clean by Bruno our cabin steward throughout the cruise. Not sure how often bed linen changed but suspect weekly at the most unlike other cruise lines which do change daily - however must think of the environment and not wash needlessly. We had second sitting dining at the Saffron on (as requested) a table for two. However the table was so close to the tables next door either side that we felt obliged to chat to neighbouring tables - might as well as had a table for six in this respect. Food I would describe as more like "pub grub" - certainly no memorable or outstanding meals in the restaurant. A couple of dishes were plain awful Didn't try the speciality restaurants whcih other cruisers described as excellent (probably more on a par with likes of Celebrity in their main restaurants. Our waiters were ok but my husband had to ask for a steak knife every time - this should be provided when steak ordered. Also tables crumbs not cleared - its these small details that put P and O down the scale of other cruise lines! We did find the lunches in the Saffron had nicer choices of food than the evenings. We ate breakfast at the saffron or outside the Beach House in the open air area and once had room sevice whcih is only continental unless you pay extra. The pizzas and burgers/hot dogs at frankies grill on deck 15 were very nice indeed. Entertainment was quite good. Headliners shows especially Reflex about the 1980's music were very good, there was a comedian called Fogwell Flax who was quite funny and also did a fantastic Sting tribute, also a "Cuban comedy/magician Manuel Martinez who was funny but I think did offend some people by his comments. Also Mercury Rising a tribute to Freddie Mercury was excellent. We enjoyed doing the quizzes but P and O a bit mean by not giving away even a keyring to the winning team (we won three and got nothing! - except the glory!) Ports of call all very nice - hot weather as to be expected and we luckily missed out on rain showers by being in the right place at the right time! We did two excursions one St Maarten by rib (inflatable speedboat) which visited Marigot, stopped for snorkelling and a beach and included rum puch/soft drinks/beer. The other was whale watching in Dominica whcih we were lucky to see both whales and dolphins. The price for these two excursions for my husband and I was £204.00. On the other islands we negotiated deals with local taxi drivers for tours and the best deal was Antigua where we got the local bus to Nelsons Dockyard return fo $3 each. A bargain and very efficient. Our main concern with the ship was the cleanliness. Ash trays were not emptied, glasses/rubbish etc not cleared away from one day to the next, grubby fingermarks on glass in lifts (and bearing in mind very few children on board to make a mess) To sum up the cruise was adequate but not special and I probably won't rush back to P and O again anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was the 28th cruise my husband and I have been on. We have sailed with several of the better-known cruise lines and this was our 4th with P & O. Having read many of the negative reviews about Ventura on Cruise Critic I must ... Read More
This was the 28th cruise my husband and I have been on. We have sailed with several of the better-known cruise lines and this was our 4th with P & O. Having read many of the negative reviews about Ventura on Cruise Critic I must say that, while we were looking forward to our Caribbean cruise in general (the 5th one we've done), it was with some trepidation that we embarked Ventura having heard it referred to as "Chav City" and "Butlins at Sea". However, we were pleasantly surprised as it turned out to be better than expected, although I would still agree that it is maybe not quite up to P & O's usual standard. I think they are trying to attract younger cruisers (instead of the usual 50+ age group that most cruise lines seem to cater for) so the ship and entertainment programme has been geared towards the 30-40 age group and more mainstream holiday maker. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I would say that the exclusivity usually associated with cruising does not apply to the Ventura. However, I think that the complaints listed here on Cruise Critic did not apply to our cruise on the whole. The ship was clean and in a good state of repair, the (mainly Indian) cabin stewards, waiters and bar staff were all very friendly and helpful, and there was a good selection of hot and cold food. The entertainment was also very good and there was a choice of venues and shows, so there was something for everyone. As it was the school holidays I expected the ship to be overrun with screaming kids but, pleasantly, this was not the case. We had a balcony cabin on deck 11. It was very spacious with twin beds pushed together to form a king-size bed. The balcony had a sliding door (which we tended to leave open overnight as I hate the drying effects of air conditioning) and two chairs, a foot stool and a small table. The wardrobe was a little strange, being directly opposite the bathroom and having no door; just a rail to hang your clothes. I found the lighting to be poor in the cabin; the position of the lights and the brightness was not very good for applying makeup. I was also disappointed with the selection of toiletries; gone are the Temple Spa ones we've had on P & O before and in their place was a generic brand of shampoo and conditioner which was not replenished when finished. There was also a refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. The cabin steward kept the room clean and tidy each day and filled our ice bucket on a daily basis. We had requested a table for six in the Bay Tree restaurant as we enjoy the social interaction with our fellow passengers. However, we only saw one couple on our table once during the entire cruise! The remaining diner was an elderly gent of 85 who, while being very pleasant, did not really have anything in common with us. Not P & O's fault though. The food in the Bay Tree was excellent and was served promptly and cheerfully. We found the Captain's Gala Reception a bit of a farce; it was held in the atrium on and around the staircase and over three levels! Unlike Cunard ships, the Ventura does not have a ballroom or other venue large enough for the number of passengers so it held the captain's bash in reception. Strange! The entertainment in the main show lounge (the Arena) was pretty good on the whole. All of the seats in the Arena had little fold-out tables stashed in the arm for you to place your drinks on, and the waiters usually served us very quickly. Shows were on twice each night; once at 8.30pm and again at 10.30pm for the second sitting diners. If you didn't want to watch the show in the main theatre an alternative cabaret was on in the Havana Lounge. However, we found that the Havana Lounge was very badly designed for watching live entertainment; the room has pillars and partitions (OK if you were standing but difficult to see over the top of if you were sitting). It meant there was a mass scramble for seats each night and people coming into the lounge late tended to move their tables and chairs to better vantage points, often inconsiderately blocking the views of people who were already seated there. This happened on a regular basis and soon became quite tiresome. Some evenings we went to The Exchange, the ship's English pub. We nicknamed it "Wetherspoon's" as the design and layout of it reminded us of this well-known pub chain. Each night there was a themed quiz and occasionally karaoke or the resident band which were pretty good. Drinks prices were not too bad, not much more than regular pub prices. One little curiosity is a model train that runs around the top of the bar, passing stations along the east coast main line. The top-most bar/lounge on Ventura is called Metropolis and featured a famous city's skyline projected onto the plasma-screen wall each night which gave an unusual effect. It was understated and relaxing in Metropolis if you just want somewhere quite for some reflection. There are two main swimming pools on Ventura, one of which has a retracting roof which was opened during the day. The larger pool featured a couple of jacuzzis and was where the deck parties were held. I didn't really enjoy the deck parties; they tended to be extremely crowded and the sound system used for the live music must have been designed for the Albert Hall because it was far too LOUD and distorted the singer's voice. The Ventura is a large ship at 115,000 tons. However, she is not large enough for the 3,078 passengers she carries. Compare to the QM2 which is much bigger at 151,000 tons and with 2,400 passengers. I did find crowds everywhere I looked on Ventura, but to be fair we didn't have the problems with queueing and sunbed hogging that have been mentioned in other reviews of the ship. On the whole we really enjoyed our cruise and the Caribbean islands we visited (Barbados, Aruba, Caracao, Grand Turk, Tortola, St Maarten, St Lucia, St Kitts and Grenada). Personally I would not cruise on Ventura again as I prefer smaller ships with fewer passengers, but that is my own personal preference; we certainly didn't have any issues with the ship, service, cleanliness, politeness of staff or quality of food and entertainment mentioned here by other reviewers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and biscuits. The balcony was great to relax on and watch the islands as we sailed away or to watch the sunset. It did not take long to get orientated on the ship. Its best to get to the right lifts before getting to the deck you want, and the carpets are colour coded for forward, midships and aft. We opted for freedom dining which worked well for getting to the shows. If you wanted to get seated straight away then you shared a table, otherwise there was a wait of no more than 30 mins to get a table for two. We also ate at the Beach House diner, Waterside buffet and Frankies grill. Breakfasts we had in Saffron,and we had room service twice. On every occasion the food was nice and service friendly. There are plenty of places to have a drink, so its down to what your preference is. We used the Metropolis most, as it was quiet and had good views. Prices are reasonable but cheap booze can be had at most ports of call. There was plenty of entertainment to pick from. We loved the Headliners shows, as did everyone. These were a medley of song and dance numbers with a different theme for seven shows. They received a much deserved standing ovation on the last night. We also saw an Elvis tribute act (a serious one, i.e. no sideburns or jumpsuit), and a cabaret singer, these were good too. Note: we always arrived early for these shows to get a good seat, this is where the freedom dining paid off. These were the shows we saw, but there was plenty of other things going on to suit all tastes, I think you would struggle to be bored on board. There are four pools to chose from, I used the one at the front near the spa. It was mostly quiet, and has a current that you can swim against. The main reason for doing this cruise was to sample several islands, rather than be confined to one, so we were apprehensive about the formal nights on sea days. We managed three out of four, the last one we went smart casual and ate at the Beach house diner and watched a show at the Havana. We've not made our minds up about the formal dress code, if we cruise again it would not be an important factor in our choice. Lastly the journey to the ship from Gatwick was fairly painless, as much as an 8 hour flight can be in cattle class. It was nice to get the luggage delivered to the cabin. Getting through security at the port was OK, especially as we bypassed the queue for the embarkation photo. However going home was a chore as the Thomas Cook flight was 2 hours late, then delayed a further 3 hours due to a technical fault. Still, better than some who had to be put in hotels overnight due to a cancelled flight. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as ... Read More
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as we got on board. Thomas Cook flight from Manchester was delayed for 2 hours due to Manchester Airport closing because of a 30 minute snow flurry (yes,this is the UK). Otherwise flight fine and we were on the ship by 4pm. We had a portside balcony cabin towards the aft and this suited us fine. Plenty of storage space, comfy beds and kept clean by our cabin steward, Freddie (although the carpet could have done with the vacuum edging tool being taken around the edges by the skirting - don't think this had been done since the ship was launched). Generally the ship was clean enough and to my knowledge no one got ill from the dreaded norovirus. However, carpets in the public areas are showing signs of wear and tear with raised edges just waiting to trip someone up. This was particularly noticeable on deck 7. Also 2 people to my knowledge slipped on the floor by the main pool - one breaking her arm 2 days from the end of the cruise. So beware if you are moving around in this area. We were freedom dining. This works very well for us and we never had to wait for a table as we were always prepared to share a table - usually 6 or 8 people. The food in the Cinnamon restaurant varied from excellent to dire but the vast majority of our meals were fine. Christmas dinner was excellent, New Year's Eve dinner not quite so good. Waiter service was brisk and usually friendly and they hardly ever forgot who was having which meal. There are some cut-backs, like the "always available list" has gone although you could still ask for a steak and get it - just that if it is not advertised people don't ask for it. Also vegetables seemed restricted unless you asked for more. We didn't starve anyway. We ate in The White Room twice which was excellent - on New Years Day the menu was fixed with the appropriate wine for each course. We ate in the Beach House Diner 3 times and it was always excellent and the service also excellent. We ate once in Ramblas. This was surprisingly filling food - we could not finish the main course. We did not eat in East this time as on our previous trip on the ship we found the food good on quality but lacking on quantity. We had breakfast in the Beach House buffet which was fine - the fresh fruit being particularly nice. I had lunch in the Waterside which I always found to be very good, whether hot or cold, and the dishes varied every day. Used plates etc were cleared away promptly by the staff who I always found to be pleasant and friendly. The afternoon tea in the Waterside is everyone's downfall, the mini wraps being especially good, likewise the mince pies and Christmas cake (yum yum). Ventura now operates a system where you can buy bottles of spirits from the duty free shop on board for excellent prices (not worth getting it at Manchester airport). You can drink these spirits in your cabin and order a mixers package if you want. Otherwise we thought the wines on the ship were poor and sometimes impossible to get. For example, on our 1st 2 nights we went to Ramblas for a pre-dinner drink. Out of the 5 red wines on their bar list, 2 were not on the ship and were not expected to be on the ship for the duration of the cruise. We stopped drinking wine about 2 weeks into the trip and drank other things instead. Otherwise there is a good variety of drinks and prices of drinks are very reasonable and there is no 15% service charge added to your bill - compare this to RCI, Cunard, Celebrity, etc etc and see which is best price. We preferred the Glasshouse on the Azura to Ramblas as the Glasshouse offers a range of wines from different countries whereas Ramblas is Spanish only. The entertainment was patchy. We are not shows people and therefore were not bothered about going to the theatre (we got there once) but we do like going to see an act in, say the Havana or Tamarind club. These acts varied from downright dire to very good. However on occasions there was virtually no entertainment going on at certain times - for instance nothing on in the Tamarind at 8.30 was not uncommon. For the first week of the cruise, there was a pianist in the Red Bar between 6pm and 6.30pm. He disappeared after the first week. When we were on the ship in 2008, there was pianist in the Metropolis bar in the evenings - not this time. The piano was there but no pianist. This made the bar lifeless. Other cutbacks were evident - this is the first Caribbean cruise we have been on where there was no steel band or reggae band for the duration of the cruise. There was a steel band when the ship was in Barbados but they disappeared when the ship sailed. When we were in St Lucia the first time (we visited here twice in the month), the cruise director announced he had managed to get a steel band for the afternoon - big deal. P&O also seem to think that they can provide entertainment courtesy of the passengers - the passengers' choir - which was for Christmas Day only on the Azura - was utilized on several occasions, which meant that the participants sometimes had to juggle their evening meals to fit in with the performances. Ventura operates a 2 tier dress code - black tie and "Evening casual". The latter is supposed to make it clearer for what people can wear. It had the opposite effect and there was a lot of grumbling amongst passengers about the state of some people's dress - I would not have worn some of the stuff to go shopping at Tesco. Of course you will always get a small number of people who think it is smart to ignore the black tie dress code and turn up in jeans, polo shirts etc for dinner. One evening, the barman reminded a male passenger that it was black tie for evening. The barman was totally ignored. I don't know why these people go on ships which have the black tie code - why don't they go on NCL or Carnival? We spent lazy days on deck 19 -the old Cirque deck but now without the bungee which means there is now a lot more room up there for sunbeds. We hardly got off the ship as we had been to all the islands before. The weather throughout was marvellous - just a couple of half days of rain and one day which was dull in all 28 days. You could not have asked for better. We had a lovely cruise and would not have any hesitation about going on Ventura again. Of course, there was a fair share of moaners - just like on any ship but the funniest one I heard was a lady in front of me at the Waterwide lunch buffet who complained that the knives and forks were too heavy and could she have some which were lighter. It was very hard not to laugh. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had ... Read More
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had chartered, but it was absolutely fine. We were really well looked after, and had plenty to drink. We had paid extra for extra legroom, and that was nice as we are tall. Boarded the Ventura with ease and were shown around our cabin by our lovely friendly steward. The room was just lovely with champagne, chocolates,fresh flowers all waiting for our arrival. The tea/coffee making selection was replaced twice a day, and having that early morning cup of tea was a big bonus for me. Mind you, even if it wouldn't have been there, room service was SO efficient and always arrived bang on time. We ordered room service several times when we were on sea days and then it made it a nice leisurely start to the day. It's free, but we would give a tip to the waiter. We usually asked our steward for the ice bucket to be ready for us on return to the cabin in the afternoons and then we could have a nice cold drink on the balcony. He was very good at remembering we wanted that. We chose freedom dining (we always do) and that worked really well. Either we could chose to dine on a table for two, and maybe wait with a pager for a little while, or join others, and then you would normally be seated immediately. We mainly used the main waiter service restaurants, as we don't really like buffet, but food was good there on the odd occasion we ate there. We dined in the White Room on our Ruby Anniversary, and that was superb. It was a formal evening also, so everyone was dressed up, and the atmosphere was really good in that restaurant. Also we dined in Ramblas and East, and both were exceptionally good. All come with cover charge, but really worth a try for a special meal. Wine packages were available, and we actually used our onboard spend to pay for those. It does make the wine cheaper to purchase the package, but then P&O prices are pretty good against other cruise lines. On the subject of alcohol P&O allow you to take it onboard (other cruise lines don't), which meant that as the ship sailed away, then we could sit on our balcony and have a pre dinner drink....or two! The shows were about the best we had seen on any of our cruises. Ventura seem to have a very good song and dance team onboard. Shows were usually twice a night (sometimes three) so you could fit in your meal around them. Unfortunately, we couldn't dock at Grand Turk. The captain tried, and circled 3 times, but wind speeds were too high to make it safe (think Easterly force 7). Having said that, we couldn't feel a thing onboard. The Ventura seemed to cope with the all that very well. Now, recently having heard about the Costa ship, maybe he made a very sensible decision. Had a fabulous sail away from Antigua, with everyone on P&O waving union jacks at the Princess sistership opposite us, and singing all the songs like Land of Hope and Glory. From our balcony we could see that everyone on top deck had them and their voices were booming out. Not sure what the other ships thought of us, but it was one of those 'proud to be British moments'. Well, all I can say is don't listen to people moaning, and just enjoy all that the Ventura has to offer. You certainly won't be bored. This cruise was just lovely, and we met many friendly people at the meal tables and had lots of fun. If there is anything that is perhaps a slight negative, I would say that the Indian staff aren't anyway near so friendly as the Phillipino staff we have encountered on other cruise lines. Don't get me wrong - they all did a splendid, efficient job, but there was no laughing or joking with any of them, well except for our room steward. I think they were just too busy with their jobs. Sadly, after a lovely cruise, we had to leave for home (had heard news of snow in UK!). Then oops! our plane developed a problem with its nose wheel, and after hours of trying to fix it, the captain gave up hope and got us off the plane. Now this is where I take my hat off to P & O again. As soon as they got their staff into position, and the terrible chaos at the airport was sorted (staff didn't realise what was happening), we were all escorted to coaches which took us to beach front hotels in Barbados, given meals, and then picked up the following day. I had visions of sleeping in the airport all night, but no. Thank you P&O - good job done. Couldn't have been easy to get 300 odd passengers sorted into hotels etc at short notice. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Starting with the positives: All Ports of call made up for the short falls of P & O. St.Marten take water taxi to beach great shops typical port duty free. Grand Turk dune buggy excursion great but island small so don't waste ... Read More
Starting with the positives: All Ports of call made up for the short falls of P & O. St.Marten take water taxi to beach great shops typical port duty free. Grand Turk dune buggy excursion great but island small so don't waste money on any island tours, beach great but take to right of quay for seclusion. Shops good. Tortola 16$ pp gets a shared taxi to Great cane beach or Brewster's beach if you want less crowds be careful of crashing waves a few sore faces and a very bad injury to a fellow cruiser sadly. St Kitts railway not to be missed very popular so book early rum punch on board train very strong pina colada bliss. Antigua treated ourselves to helicopter ride to Montserrat to view volcano and abandoned villages glad we didn't miss this holiday highlight. St Lucia went in shared taxi to waterfalls and volcanic spring also good views of Pitons quite a bit of travelling wish we had taken boat trip to view Pitons instead roads very winding. Dominica went on excursion with PO to TiTou gorge (pirates of caribbean two shot here)and hot springs escape fantastic and if you land lucky and get Elephant and Cammy as guides they may tell you some jokes too blue for general airing but great fun.St Vincent got taxi to wallibou beach scene of pirates of Caribbean one, our driver also took us to wallibou falls, botanical gardens and Port Charlotte thanks Vivienne and it cost just 20$ pp bargain. Then sadly to Barbados at end of cruise went to Harrison's caves the 8Th wonder of the world but a tad too commercial. Negatives now: Cabin L255 at great location on lido deck and you wake up to great views most mornings. You also get good view to crows nest. We were on second dining at 830pm waiters never even introduced themselves!! company at table was exceptional and we made great friends. Unfortunately if you choose second sitting on night of shows at 8pm and 1030 there is no chance you can view them standing room only so a bit of a raw deal here. General buffet breakfast and lunch hard to get seats and waiters too slow to clear tables very seldom smile and cleanliness poor hardly clean tables between guests. Very British plain fare served, you definitely wont starve but repetitive.Cereal bowls always hot!! Sun beds impossible to get even though you are not allowed to reserve them selfish cruisers do there was even a proper fight between guests about this not very good PO should do something about this to save future disputes IE attendants? decks always had empty plates glasses lying around for ages with staff walking past them !!Also we were leaving on Saturday and we had to attend immigration at 7am on Friday, again no shows on Friday only entertainment worth seeing was on LIDO deck at 10pm we don't finish diner till after 10 so missed that! ship like ghost ship on Friday night no atmosphere on what should have been a fun last evening we were lucky to have good friends to enjoy socialising with on last night. Also had to vacate cabin at 9am on departure day and didn't get picked up till 2pm so last two days of holiday not so relaxing. Having said all that still managed to have lovely holiday but it was more down to ports of call, fantastic weather and a lovely circle of friends. If P&O want to keep customers returning they need to step up there service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and destination. The Caribbean is beautiful at this time of year, temps never dropping below 80degrees. Yes, we had some rain, lovely refreshing, warm rain. It didn't spoil a thing because it never lasted long and was quite a welcome break from the hot sunshine. Mostly the weather was great. As for the ship...Ventura is a real beauty. The staff on board are faultless, apart from one sour faced beauty therapist who looked as though she really didn't want to be there and I cant think for the life of me why! The cabin staff, waiting staff, shops, restaurant, reception etc. etc. were so helpful and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for anyone and from the minute we left our bags with check in a Gatwick to the moment we picked them up on our return, our every whim was catered for and we didn't have to think about a thing. Check in on board was very fast and smooth. There was constant food and drink 24/7, more or less whatever you wanted. The entertainment was great. We saw 4 or 5 shows put on by the 'Headliners' Theatre Company, a very talented group of young singers and dancers who seem to have endless energy and never stop smiling whether they are on or off stage. If I had to pick fault with anything, it would be the fact that despite the daily sheet given to each cabin which contains information about that evenings dress code, there were several passengers who on formal nights, still wondered around in shorts, football shirts and flip flops!! we did go to reception and asked why this was allowed to happen and were told that 97% of passengers comply, but sometimes the other 3% complain about formal nights...... well don't go on a cruise with P&O is my response to that one, go with a company like Ocean Village who are a casual cruise line, don't spoil it for others who like to get dressed up as a part of the cruise experience. I do think that the dress code should be adhered to and that people should be asked to dress according to that nights code. There are only 4 formal nights on a 14 night cruise so if you don't want to dress up that's fine, but at least don't wonder amongst the people who do wearing your Man U top. I'm as down to earth as they come, but loved to dress up and feel special, as at home, we don't get to do it very often. The food in the main dining rooms was 'ok' but up in the Beach House Restaurant, it was fabulous, so we ended up eating up there whenever the queue wasn't too long, as most people seemed to find the same, the quality was better. We were sometimes given a pager to be called when the table was ready as they were busy, but it was no problem, plenty of places for pre-dinner drinks and it never took very long anyway. All in all, we cant wait to go back again, it was smooth, flawless and all credit to P&O for their attention to detail. Thank You P&O. We're coming back!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
As first time cruisers we were fortunate enough to experience the Carribbean for my partners 60th/retirement celebrations. We decided that as we often visit the Med, that we wanted something special.And.....special it was!! However it ... Read More
As first time cruisers we were fortunate enough to experience the Carribbean for my partners 60th/retirement celebrations. We decided that as we often visit the Med, that we wanted something special.And.....special it was!! However it would have been equally special if we had sailed around in circles!!The ship definately made the holiday, what a fantastic experience. The size of the ship was the first shock, nothing could have prepared us for how vast it is. Secondly the security/organisation/and speed of boarding etc was amazing for almost 3500 passengers. No amout of reviews or photographs could prepare you for the facilities on board and the excellent staff who assisted our every need. The web site will tell you of all the restaurants/ bars/ entertainment available so I will just try to elaborate with some of our experiences. we had a super deluxe cabin which was far more somfortable than some expensive hotels we have stayed in. To sit on the balcony wearing our complimentary bathrobes, sipping complimentary champagne, overlooking the most fantastic sunsets I have seen conributed to the most relaxing holiday we have experienced. We chose to pre book 6 trips with P and O and were relly glad that we did. Yes, we could have had excursions in port that were cheaper , or taken local taxi's to a local beach etc, but I defy anyone to prove that they would provide such good value. We took one local trip with another group of people and had to agree that you need to be very careful about confirming what is included in the price. We specifically wanted to visit the live volcano in St Lucia...which we went to with the tour guide.However he omitted to inform us that the entrance fee for that and a botanical garden were not included!!!! So unless you merely want to visit a beach I would be wary. Our trips included swimming with Turtles and Stingrays which was a fantastic opportunity and experience, tubing down the Pagua river which was really good fun,a fantastice scenic trip on the Sugar Train,and a cycling trip around St Maarten which was probably the only trip we thought was overpriced. The onboard entertainment was amazing and our daily newspaper helped us to plan the day to suit ourselves.We usually opted for the early showing in the theatre before dinner, so that we could also manage to visit Havana for one of the tribute singers/ comedy acts. Each to their own but being bored was never an option. The restaurants are exceptional, and we personally preferred the buffet restaurants for breakfast or lunch only as the fine dining restaurants made the holiday even more special. The White room is a MUST to visit and East was a lovely change with beautifully presented food. My only criticism was that the 'towels on sunbed malarky' still existed and it was often very difficult to get near to the swimming pools. It is a good idea to enjoy the peace and quiet on 'Port ' days. I could go on and on about how fantastic it was but if I simply said that we very reluctantly left our cabin at the end of the trip vowing to return ASAP!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from ... Read More
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from Manchester, but only 2 hours away. The Thomson flight was fine. left early, arrived on time. Bus to Ship from the bottom of plane steps (great)direct tothe port. Registration in no time, very efficient. (by-passed the photographer!) Found cabin which was excellent (twice the size of last years BOS balcony cabin!) Savio, our Steward, led us in and explained everything to us, he was excellent the whole cruise. We downed our Champagne and chose the Buffet and an early night. Surprise 1 - Last year a bottle of wine started at $40 this year £9 for house white, everything else normal pub prices. The buffet was good and fresh/warm. Yes there are 3000 passengers, but Ventura is a big ship, and you can find a quiet bar (10 to choose from)and somewhere to sit/lay, We never bothered round the pools, as it wasn't worth the hastle, but there are many places to relax, from comfortable chairs on the Promenade deck 7 to beds always available over the Spa at the front (adult only!) Children were not a problem, only 126 on board, and never caused us any heartache.3 Islands 3 days in the Caribbean then 5 days to cross the Atlantic to Tenerife then 3 days to Southampton. Too many sea-days, we got a little bored. There are activities throughout the day, but we stuck to relaxing in the sun and the Spa.Everyone was so friendly on board both Crew and Passengers. Some passengers left a little to be desired and surprised us but hey they paid for their holiday the same as everyone else and so they have the same rights.We ate in every restaurant (9 but 3 formal/allocated ones, so 7 to choose from)Whites was superb, as was the Asian one, East and Ramblas (Spanish) The Bay House was turned into an American diner each night and the buffet had a theme night each night (all good)in fact the food was excellent everywhere.We enjoyed the evening entertainment and went nightly to the TheatreNegatives - The 4 formal evenings became tiresome, and the photographers also everywhere, but looking at the queues waiting for their picture proves there is a need both to dress up and have their photo's taken, so who are we to complain!and we could avoid them. It is a big ship, you could meet someone at lunchtime, and never see them again! likewise the entertainment bars could not cope with demand. If there was a good entertainer on you had to go early for a seat. As said before Sea days became boring, but we just did not appreciate the distance across the Atlantic at 19knotsOverall, much better this year. I fear over capacity will lead to more last minute "deals" and attract the wrong clientele. We will have another go, but either a smaller ship, or a larger with less passengers Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We did the same Ventura repositionong cruise in March 2010 and been highly satisfied and accordingly booked the same cruise for 2011, whilst on board. We again flew to Barbados to cruise the Caribbean and return to Southampton.What a great ... Read More
We did the same Ventura repositionong cruise in March 2010 and been highly satisfied and accordingly booked the same cruise for 2011, whilst on board. We again flew to Barbados to cruise the Caribbean and return to Southampton.What a great disappointment this turned out to be! Standards had greatly dropped.We had opted for Freedom dining - which worked well, and the food was of a good standard. Some staff generally lacked training, with indifferent and sullen table service. We are angry that P&O had drastically reduced cabin prices to sell off cabins. By adopting the present pricing policy P&O will lose the loyalty of long-standing passengers who still wish their cruises to be of a high standard and special event. By booking early, we ourselves had paid nearly £1000 more than the latest sell-off price. We understand that P&O must be profit making but the cabin sell off attracted the wrong type of passenger and those that we would not wish to associate with and many passengers expressed these views. Tattoos,body piercings and drunken behaviour seemed to be quite the norm.Parents had obviously taken children off school - for the free kids' places, and on some afternoons these older children took over the swimming pools - jumping in and diving - albeit supervised by P&O staff, who took no regard to the pool rules. Obviously quick profits are more important to P&O than long term customer loyalty.In view of the above we feel that our future cruises will not be with P&O. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We have just returned from a wonderful caribbean / transatlantic cruise on the beautiful P & O Ventura.We had read all the criticisms but it was a trip that we wanted to do and the price was right!!What a lovely ship - it is vast with ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful caribbean / transatlantic cruise on the beautiful P & O Ventura.We had read all the criticisms but it was a trip that we wanted to do and the price was right!!What a lovely ship - it is vast with so many facilities - we particularly enjoyed the cocktails in the superb Metropolis bar, the sangria and tapas in the Ramblas and the choice of restaurants. We were second sitting in Saffron and the food and service were both excellent. We also loved the steaks in the Beach House and thought East was super and the buffet in the Waterside offered so many choices. Yes, the buffet can be busy, but you choose to book on a ship with 3,000+ passengers, and we never failed to find a table or ever thought the shortage of teaspoons a problem (they disappear in our house too).Despite numerous complaints, there was absolutely no shortage of sun loungers.Of course there is limited space around pools but there are so many areas which are so much quieter and we sunbathed and read all the way across the Atlantic. We loved all the sea days and the relaxation they offered. We bought spa passes for £40 each and loved the thermal suite. We have come home rested and feel as if we have really had a holiday. If you like being on the go everyday, this is not the type of cruise for you.There are loads of activities - dance classes, the gym, talks, films etc and the evening entertainment offered something for everyone from top west end singers to "club" acts.The value for money is excellent, far better than a land based holiday.There was a wide cross section of passengers and all age groups. I would not go on a family ship on or around school holidays, so those who moaned about the type of passengers and the few children that were on board should use adult only ships.Altogether a fantastic relaxing holiday on a lovely ship. Now looking forward to a trip on Adonia in October. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
Having read some of the negative reviews that i saw once i had booked to go on this ship i was a little worried but came with an open mind. The flight with Thomas Cook out from Gatwick was well organised but the check in was very ... Read More
Having read some of the negative reviews that i saw once i had booked to go on this ship i was a little worried but came with an open mind. The flight with Thomas Cook out from Gatwick was well organised but the check in was very hard on anyone who seemed to have an ounce over in thier luggage. However leaving the airport at the other end was super; bypassing border control and straight to the ship. Priority embarkation to the ship for the suite passengers was a joke ie you just got your cruise card a bit quicker and then just joined the queue with everyone else. Once on the ship friendly staff greeted us and basically just told us the way to the stateroom. Perhaps my expectation of priority boarding for the large sum of money i had paid for this cruise was wrong. On getting to my stateroom i was quite pleased with the size of it and the layout but the much mooted butler service just did not happen -no champagne on ice waiting -no unpacking of the luggage for you as promised, no pamper pack, just stuff left in the fridge and a guy who introduced himself as the butler once he was well sure we had unpacked ourselves and told us "the room stuard does the toilet, i do the cups" the room steward was much better and more hardworking however. The light of day came the next day and all was revealed: dirty walls ,the remnants of the last couples sporting activities on the bed valance,the shabby balcony with the old weather worn furniture the stink of smoke in the room. After having the customer service manager in for a conference and laying down what i expected of service from the staff things got better but the impression was already there. The staff generally on this ship were very friendly and polite and i would have to say had more class that the ramshackle bunch that made up most of the passengers -all over tattoos-compare the beer belly competitions in the sun very bad fake designer bags - get the drift this was the real letdown of this cruise- if your idea of a good time is a working men's club or the British Legion on a Saturday night - then this is the place for you. Food on board was surprisingly good with the bay tree,white room ,east and ramblas putting on some really good food the exception however was waterside where i would eat with great caution esp poultry. Bar prices were very fair with most things at pub levels and i found my on board credit went a long way. would i cruise p and o again -yes- would i go on ventura again-not if you paid me. As a foot note my partner came down with a really bad case of food poisoning at the end of this cruise and the only time we ate off this ship was on an organised tour as i said caution is the word. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Arrived in Barbados after a 9 hour flight without inflight entertainment(TOM194)out of Manchester.Everyone on the flight had blankets around them it was that cold.From airport to ship was excellent no waiting about.We checked into the ... Read More
Arrived in Barbados after a 9 hour flight without inflight entertainment(TOM194)out of Manchester.Everyone on the flight had blankets around them it was that cold.From airport to ship was excellent no waiting about.We checked into the boarding sheds very quickly and then we were held up by the bain of the whole cruise yes a PHOTOGRAPHER. Reached cabin D729 VERY NICE INDEED,there was champagne, chocolates and fruit waiting great start on board. The Ventura is a beautiful ship even though we hadn't cruised before to compare it with.The main entertainment centre was the Arena theatre which holds approx 900 and is very comfortable.Las Ramblas is a very comfortable meeting place for a drink it could be a room in any top class hotel. The Tamarind bar is a beautiful room but unfortunately is the centre for the Ballroom dancers and therefore is only fully utilized if there is entertainment on following the dancing.Nightclub Havanna is at the stern of the ship and is a very poorly shaped room so much so that there is numerous TV screens around the room in order to see the entertainment. This is also where LIBBY and her cronies entertain themselves dancing the night away when supposedly working. We were booked first sitting 6.30pm in the BAY TREE restaurant, all the food we had was of a very good standard the only drawback was that the food was not very warm when it reached our table which was the furthest from the galley.We also dined in the WHITE ROOM on two ocassions which for the extra £20pp was well worth the experience.During the day we used the Waterside restaurant the self service food was edible but on board it was known as the CANTEEN.Not only are the plates red hot but also the trays are the hottest anywhere. After our day in Barbados we set sail for BONAIRE 36 hours away.This is when we found out about the squealing screaming kids on board who are allowed by their parents and staff alike to do as they please and ruin everyone elses relaxation. If you require a nice relaxing holiday after 12 months hard graft DO NOT GO ON THE VENTURA.Not only are there young children, roaming the ship at will are teenagers who sit on stairs or anywhere they want to which is not very nice on a beautiful cruise ship. On the Islands visited I can honestly say that there is not a lot to choose between any of them they all have the same shops/sheds selling alot of junk, they all have taxi drivers trying to rip you off with island tours if you haven't been ripped off by P&O who are even dearer.The only Islands I would reccommend is ST MAARTEN and maybe GRAND TURK the latter is only 1x7 miles. On the cruise there are 4 formal nights which if your are a normal guy like me will have you heaving as the dolled up snobs who stroll round licking a--e as if they are really someone.On the first formal evening the Captain greeted his subjects like the pope by standing on a balcony in the Atrium, pass me a bucket.This is where the most annoying thing apart from the screaming kids on Ventura starts in earnest and never stops until you leave the ship THE PHOTOGRAPHERS believe me they never leave you alone whether you are walking eating drinking they are there it is pathetic, i now know why famous people hate the paparazzi they are in your face all the time. Entertainment is worse than any working mens club that i have visited.To save time i will just give examples from both ends of the spectrum, the best which both came on the last two days were Martin Daniels a comedian/magician and a Neil Diamond tribute act who was very good.At the other end for adult entertainment in the night club we had Mr Biscuit who made dogs from balloons and a so called comedian by the name of ANDY FORD who emptied the room in 15minutes flat they were an absolute disgrace. So there you have it folks don't be fooled by all the hype about cruise ships,if you want to spend a fortune on what is basically a captive holiday go, if not steer clear because for what you will pay out you could do at least 3 holidays a year al a carte virtually anywhere.Finally do not be fooled by the on board spend offered it does not last 5 minutes and we did not purchase any photographs at £15 a time.If you have booked this ship just pray that all the kids are at school if not take some big earplugs. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Just back from 2 week cruise on Ventura.Our flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were excellent.Complimentary drinks,food and toiletries and good choice of films.Arrival in Barbados and onto ship was so well organised.Waited around 2 ... Read More
Just back from 2 week cruise on Ventura.Our flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were excellent.Complimentary drinks,food and toiletries and good choice of films.Arrival in Barbados and onto ship was so well organised.Waited around 2 hours for cases to arrive so used the time to look around the ship-and what a ship!! It was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to but we were very impressed.We had an inside room which was lovely,mirrors all around gave it a good sense of space.Compact bathroom,powerful shower and loads of white towels. A kind of walk in wardrobe with shelf space and electronic safe.The cabin guy Ronald was great and kept everything clean and tidy.We had no problem at all with kids running around or making noise (there were 250 on our cruise!).The thing about this ship is that its big enough to get away from the noise-which leads me to the great sunbed debate!! Yes-there is a shortage of them around the pools which is where all the noise and kids hang out,but if you just use your legs and walk a bit further there are loads of beds scattered around.We are total sun-worshippers and never had a problem in 2 weeks at all.Entertainment had good and bad points but its not the thing we go on holiday for really.The food was very nice and there was something for everyone. Ate in Baytree at night and were very impressed with the waiter service-always with a smile. Now for our (only!) dislikes. The first 2 ports of call (Bonnaire and Aruba) were stunning,friendly and welcoming. It went downhill from there! Jamaica next,nightmare! We could see a lovely beach from the ship and thought we'd have a nice stroll and a couple of hours on it. From leaving the gate of the port we had nothing but hassle,often abusive.Payed few dollars to get on beach and still hounded every few minutes,necklaces,aloe vera, bars, jet-skis-just won't leave you alone.I know they rely on tourism for their livelihood but this high-pressure salesmanship is surly putting tourists off? Couldn't wait to get back to the safety of the ship where we heard lots of other stories about harassment-even those on organised trips. St Lucia was just as bad.Grand Turk and St Maarten no problem,Dominica a waste of time. I would definitely recommend Ventura-we had a really fantastic holiday, i would just be wary about which Islands you visit Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2011
Just returned from a fortnight on board Ventura. Must admit I was a little concerned about some of the mixed reviews. Should not have been, ship was lovely, staff were friendly, helpful and always smiling and the food was fab. We mainly ... Read More
Just returned from a fortnight on board Ventura. Must admit I was a little concerned about some of the mixed reviews. Should not have been, ship was lovely, staff were friendly, helpful and always smiling and the food was fab. We mainly ate at the 6.30 sitting for evening meal - food was lovely throughout and the service very attentive (Sherif and Hemanth). Neither myself or my husband found anything to complain about - we both cook so can be a bit fussy about the quality of food presented. The wine waiter was also attentive and informative. We only ate at the 'buffet' for lunch twice and again were impressed with the food. Buffet breakfast was good too but we preferred the waiter service. All in all the food and standard of service was very good. Couldn't fault the cabin or our steward (Senim) who looked after us well. There was lots of entertainment, the highlights for us were 'Freddie Mercury', Soul Connection and the Irish comedian whose name I forget. We did have a 5 hour delay going home but the reception staff were really helpful and smiling despite the pressure this put them under. Would definitely cruise with P&O again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I'm afraid P&O was not the ideal cruise firm we expected. The Saffron dining room staff were really good and very pleasant, as was the wine waiter, although the menu wasn't vast they did generally have something that ... Read More
I'm afraid P&O was not the ideal cruise firm we expected. The Saffron dining room staff were really good and very pleasant, as was the wine waiter, although the menu wasn't vast they did generally have something that appealed. The cabin was fine, as was the cabin steward who went the extra mile to be friendly and provide a good service. The buffet on the other hand was not good at all. There was not a good choice of food and even though you were handed a really hot plate, the food in general was tepid at best and in some cases cold. If salad was the preferred choice then this had to be put onto the very hot plates. There were 'cold plates' for salad but these were also hot when available which spoiled the whole idea of a salad. The tables were not emptied readily and the tea and coffee stations left a lot to be desired. Getting tea, coffee, milk, cups, tea spoons and hot water in the same place seemed too much to ask and staff were rude when asked for cups etc. The day we left there were no cups at any drink station and people were forced to drink tea and coffee from plastic glasses. The staff did try to keep sunbeds free on sea days and removed towels from beds that had been 'saved' and where no-one appeared for a length of time but in general you had to be up really early to get a sunbed by a pool. The chairs and tables around the pool had wooden slats and were really hard and uncomfortable. Smoking was allowed on the starboard side of decks 15 and 16 as well as the starboard side of promenade deck 7 but it was impossible to sit and have a drink and a smoke as the seating facilities were too hard to sit and relax on and generally full of grease and unclean from Frankies burger bar. The staff on these decks were not very friendly and some were rude. This was our first experience of P&O and we had been led to believe it was the best but the next cruise will definitely be back at Royal Caribbean who do their utmost to take care of their passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We have just returned from 2 weeks on the Ventura a beautiful ship and this being our first cruise we were very pleased with the cabin and most of our fellow passengers. I do realise that with over 3000 people on board p and O have to ... Read More
We have just returned from 2 weeks on the Ventura a beautiful ship and this being our first cruise we were very pleased with the cabin and most of our fellow passengers. I do realise that with over 3000 people on board p and O have to cater for a great number of tastes but some of the so called entertainment certainly did not appeal to us. We were quite looking forward to having a little flutter in the casino but why oh why have they put it next to the PUB, needless to say we did not bother and for most of the cruise staff in the casino looked very bored as no one was using it. We felt the shore excursions we booked were very good and well organised. Our dining arrangements were wrong as we had booked freedom dining but after a day or so this was sorted out. Would we cruise again, probably but with a lot more research as this one really was not what we were looking for and from conversations with fellow passengers this was a very common view. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We opted to take this cruise because we found a particularly attractive deal through an internet agency . We have previously enjoyed visiting the Caribbean twice before. However, we normally refrain from any form of package holiday, ... Read More
We opted to take this cruise because we found a particularly attractive deal through an internet agency . We have previously enjoyed visiting the Caribbean twice before. However, we normally refrain from any form of package holiday, preferring to arrange everything ourselves. We value privacy and 'doing our own thing' so taking a cruise with 3000+ other souls represented a significant departure for us. We were very impressed with the smooth arrangements from checking in at Gatwick to our arrival in our stateroom. This was very slick indeed. The flight was with Thomson and the crew worked very purposefully to ensure that we were comfortable, and they plied us with complimentary drinks. The 4 sea days were probably our least enjoyable. The clamour and reservation of sunbeds, with extended periods of conspicuous non-occupancy, led to justifiable resentment. However, we are not as keen on sunbathing as many on board. The beds are often very close together, to the extent that navigating a clear passage to another area of the ship was often something of a challenge. We found many areas to be rather lively, and it wasn't easy to find somewhere quiet to read in relative peace. We were very glad to have a balcony, where we could read, play travel games etc - this was a major boon. We enjoyed visiting all the islands, each of which had individual appeal. We are not divers and we do not snorkel, yet we still found plenty to do to keep our interest. We often took a P&O tour in the morning, returning to the Ventura for lunch. We then pottered around the nearby town in the afternoon. It was very hot, so it was always a joy to return to the air-conditioned comforts of our cabin. Dining We started by breakfasting in Waterside / Beach house. When we were there quite early (ie before 07:30) we found these restaurants to be perfectly adequate, without lengthy queues and reasonably easy to find a table. At peak times we found these restaurants to be too crowded. We had breakfast once in Baytree. Here the service was slow and we were required to share a table with 3 other couples. On port days we had room service breakfast on our balcony. All but once, the breakfast arrived punctually at the pre-organised time. It was a joy to watch our arrival at an island whilst scoffing a pain au chocolat on our balcony. Lunchtimes were taken in Waterside / Beach house. Again, these were quite busy on sea days. On port days it was always easy to have a quiet (and relatively quick) lunch before heading into town. One distasteful aspect of buffet dining was the opportunity for gluttony and wastage. We saw people taking 3 desserts, having a sample of each and leaving the rest. For our part, we were happy to have a salad, the daily variety of which was highly commendable. As we were on freedom dining, we could eat when we chose. We normally ate in the Cinnamon restaurant, arriving before 7 o'clock. This meant there was no waiting for a table for 2. These tables are set quite close to one another, so we could chat to our neighbours quite easily. The food in this restaurant was of a uniformly high standard. House wines were set at favourable prices. We normally opted to eat 3 courses although others with a more capacious appetite went for the soup and fish courses as well. On one occasion we were asked (very politely) to vacate our table as it was needed for another couple. We had finished our coffee and were chatting to our neighbours so this was entirely reasonable. On another occasion when we were equally tardy, the arrival of the new butter pats for the next diners was a more subtle way of encouraging us to move. It made us smile. We also ate at 'East' twice and 'The White Room' once during the fortnight. Both of these restaurants offered sumptuously presented, top quality meals. Service was impeccable, and the experience was entirely worth the small supplement. (We booked both restaurants almost as soon as we arrived in our cabin on the first day - a wise measure to avoid disappointment.) Entertainment We thought that the Ventura company were very versatile and we enjoyed the shows. During the fortnight, there was a wide selection of shows, each performed thrice nightly. The acrobats (ex Cirque de Soleil) were outstanding. We enjoyed one of the comedians (Ray Turner) with his adroit observational humour. Another (Fogwell Flax) worked hard but anyone who laughs at his own jokes is rather too artificial for our liking. My wife enjoyed line dancing with 'Lonestar LIbby (!!). There was plenty of other activities but Bingo, horse racing etc we can do without. Stateroom Excellent in every respect. Very comfortable bed. Quality toiletries. Slightly odd choice of TV channels, not that we wanted to spend our time watching television. Service Our cabin steward kept our cabin in a spotless condition. He was the soul of discretion, being able to work around our variable timetable with the utmost aplomb. His unfailing good humour and civility made our cruise experience all the more enjoyable. Service in the restaurants was of a very high calibre, particularly in the speciality restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
The first thing to be said is that P & O have got their model right, and the very few mistakes we witnessed were caused by individuals, rather than systems they have put in place. Their use of bonds to transfer baggage and people is ... Read More
The first thing to be said is that P & O have got their model right, and the very few mistakes we witnessed were caused by individuals, rather than systems they have put in place. Their use of bonds to transfer baggage and people is very efficient, and greatly reduces the tensions associated with air travel in these fraught times. Once checked-in at Gatwick, the next time we saw our baggage was when it was delivered, in a timely fashion, to our cabin. There were no immigration and customs controls to navigate at Bridgetown; instead we stepped off the plane and into a minibus, which delivered us direct to the cruise terminal - we were in our cabin an hour and a quarter after landing. On the return journey immigration controls were cleared on the Ventura, a simple security form completed in our cabins resulted in boarding passes, baggage reclaim tags and security stickers being delivered, and again the baggage was next sighted at Gatwick. Passengers were bussed to Bridgetown Airport, where P & O had arranged a dedicated security lane, and we were airside within minutes. Cabins were impressively kitted, with UK king-sized beds, fridges, good quality toiletries, and interactive televisions, through which it was possible to order food, drinks, excursions etc, and which kept us up to date with our spend on board. There were restaurants to suit everyone, ranging from traditional two-sitting silver service, through freestyle eating to self service. The quality of the food was generally very good.We were first sitting in Bay Tree restaurant, where we were seated with 2 other couples. I suspect that these arrangements were made by age, and they worked - we loooked forward to their company every evening. The waiting staff were attentive, and on the first evening spotted that one of the ladies had problems with food. They summoned the head waiter, and every evening thereafter she was given the next day's menu, to make her selection at leisure. On several occasions they gladly provided items not on the menu. We ate in White's twice, and felt thoroughly spoilt. The food and service were definitely 5-star. The gym was equipped with state-of-the-art machines, and the staff were both approachable and knowledgeable. There was entertainment to suit all tastes, and on the couple of occasions we found ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, we merely moved on to another venue, to enjoy other offerings. The ship's resident show troupe included three excellent singers, a stand-out balletic trapeze artist, and two acrobats ex Cirque de Soleil. There was one show where events conspired against them, but we all enjoyed watching them ad-libbing their way through it. Highlights of the cruise included an unscheduled meeting with our sister ship Azura in Aruba. She sailed just before us, and as we exited the harbour she steamed past us, with both liners thundering the air apart with volleys of salutes from their massive horns. That caused the hairs to stand up! The other was an organised reef snorkel and swim with sting rays off Grand Turk. The briefing given by Captain Stumpy was very thorough, and he even warned us of the predators we might encounter. However, he didn't prepare me for the five-foot barracuda, which swam out of the depths! The good captain did admit, afterwards, that they throw overboard the odd scrap to attract this beast. Finally,as a proud Highlander I was impressed by the piping of the haggis and the Address on Burn's Night. I was rather less pleased to find that the Drink of the Day was an Irish whiskey. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
CONS On first sight - what a monster. First time we'd cruised on a 3,000 passenger ship, and by day 14 we were still getting lost! On arrival NO champagne reception, which we'd been used to with other cruise lines, NO-ONE ... Read More
CONS On first sight - what a monster. First time we'd cruised on a 3,000 passenger ship, and by day 14 we were still getting lost! On arrival NO champagne reception, which we'd been used to with other cruise lines, NO-ONE to show us to our cabin, heaven help anyone who's never cruised before. There was something the matter with the staff, especially the waiting on staff, they were quite sullen and obviously not happy with something, although during the cruise some of them perked up and we managed to have a laugh with them. Our balcony cabin was sufficient - except for the shower - which was triangular in shape and quite small which meant that when you bent over to do you legs you had to stick your head out of the curtain - not very nice. Signage on the ship, totally inadequate. All the signs were very dark and difficult to spot and read, needs brightening up a bit so they are easier to spot. No hot water in any of the toilets used by passengers when moving around the ship, NOT ideal for killing bacteria! Experienced a very rough passage on our last nights journey, even experienced cruisers said they had never experienced such a rough journey, hung onto bed and hoped for best. Think that LIBRARY should be in an enclosed room with comfortable seats to relax and read at leisure. Think that CASINO is one of the smallest that I have ever seen and should be totally separate from the adjoining EXCHANGE lounge and music venue. Nail polish used in spa treatments is rubbish, cheap stuff. Chips after a few days. PROS Fellow passengers very pleasant and chatty. Cabin boy very good and helpful, works extremely hard. Food available 24 hours a day, but sometimes a little 'hit & miss' in one or two venues, but you'll never go hungry. Entertainment, First Class, the Venturer Theatre Company were very professional putting on some very good shows, visiting artistes included a singer, Victor Michael, and a comedian Adrian Walsh, who both did two separate shows, Excellent! During our days at sea, attended the Oasis Spa for treatments, overall very good, but nail polish is rubbish, cheap stuff. Guest speakers very interesting, went to a few different talks, learnt a lot. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Just back from Barbados with Ventura and excellent holiday with good company. Many good things about the ship-food ,beer ,entertainment all first class. Put on about 7 lb due to over eating and tried to miss meals out.Evening ... Read More
Just back from Barbados with Ventura and excellent holiday with good company. Many good things about the ship-food ,beer ,entertainment all first class. Put on about 7 lb due to over eating and tried to miss meals out.Evening meal was first class silver service which lasted 2 hours but on a table with good company. Drank good English real ale mostly in bottles at pub prices- Greene King IPA, Bass, Spitfire,Old Speckled hen and Boddies on draught. Saw 2 shows most nights and all but 1 very good -Adrian Walsh comedian brilliant. Opera singer also very good.Used the gym and wife did Pilates a few times. Went offshore every day on trips usually taking local mini buses sightseeing and beach later.3 trips booked via P & O or locally. No bad stomach and even drank ships water all holiday after chilling in fridge. Only bad thing was the Thomson flight very bumpy and hours late but P & O gave us another cabin for the day and all meals. One of my best holidays ever but I never have a bad one and will be booking again soon. Where next?? Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Having just returned today 12/02/2011 I thought I would give my views on the trip. Bad start Thomsons flight out of Manchester should have left 9-30am was delayed until 18-15hrs we were notified the day before some passengers of course ... Read More
Having just returned today 12/02/2011 I thought I would give my views on the trip. Bad start Thomsons flight out of Manchester should have left 9-30am was delayed until 18-15hrs we were notified the day before some passengers of course travelled the day before so were not contactable. Arrived at Ship 23-00 hours Barbados time 3am GMT. No water in our cabin, safe not working not much of an complimentary upgrade. Riviera Deck 14 is far removed from its name we were kept awake in the small hors by scraping of chairs and vacume cleaning dont they make a noise thse days when they are above your beds. BEWARE Waterside and Beach House above R deck. Never again. More waiting to get a table in Baytree for Breakfast after waiting u are admitted to finf only a small section in use. Think they have cut staff? Entertainment not that good with a few minor exceptions. Food in Dining Rooms OK not as good as previous year. Met some great people but there were quite a few that you would wish to avoid. We are forever learning and enjoyed the weather which is the main reason for going for us. Staff attitude leaves a lot to desire with a few exceptions. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We booked our cruise in November 2010 and got a substantial reduction on the brochure price but with no on board spend. We certainly feel we got value for money. Our flights from Manchester were only an hour late leaving and on time for ... Read More
We booked our cruise in November 2010 and got a substantial reduction on the brochure price but with no on board spend. We certainly feel we got value for money. Our flights from Manchester were only an hour late leaving and on time for the return. Drinks were complimentary courtesy of P and O. Stepped off the plane in Barbados and straight to the boat via a coach from the aircraft steps. No immigration whatsoever. Perfect. Asked for freedom dining but got a table for 8 at 6.30. After suffering from a little temper tantrum in private and a quiet word with the Maitre D we were allocated a table for 2 at 8.30. Problem sorted. The food in the saffron restaurant was very good and the service was excellent. Wines were good and well priced and the glass was never left to go dry. Wine packages were available which gave about a 20% disc on the price. Tried both the White room and East. Both were very good but not quite as sharp as the alternate dining on other ships such as Todd English or Sabatini's. On a 2 week cruise though a change of venue just reminds you how good the main restaurant was. Didn`t use the buffet except for a snack and always found a table. Always took room service breakfast. Served by the same waiter everyday. Again Excellent. With Tea and coffee facilities in the room there was always a hot drink to go with that. Our room was good but not great. The carpet was stained I think because of the Tea facilities. It was shampooed after a couple of days and came up a treat. Should have been done before we boarded. In general the room was a little tired. An apple and an orange doesn`t constitute a fruit basket either in my book. I could have refilled it myself from the buffet I suppose. Had to ask for ice but then it was there everyday. If you want a sun lounger in a prime spot on a sea day get up and on it before 9.am otherwise your just going to be disappointed. No point complaining that's just the way it is. Entertainment in the evening is pretty good some great acts and some a little less so. I saw more shows on this cruise than on any other I`ve been on. The ship is short of intimate drink venues though for a nice pre dinner drink. Red is very open and Metropolis is fine if there's live music but not consistent. Drinks packages available for your room and pretty much duty free prices so I guess that's the place to have a pre dinner drink if you have a view. The ports of call were excellent pretty much toured the entire Caribbean. They are what you make of them. If you just wander round the port you`ll doubtless be disappointed. Organised tours were reasonable value for money and if you get on the Internet its possible to find great deals with local tour companies or just find a taxi in port and head off. Overall the cruise was good fun. Met fantastic fellow passengers. A warm and friendly crowd. Lots of first time cruisers. Some folks felt that the cheap last minute deals maybe attract the wrong crowd. Well as i booked last minute I could hardly agree could I. I did wonder if there was a convention for the tattoo`d on board but perhaps I`ve led a sheltered life and some choice language on a couple of occasions though nothing I haven`t heard before. Overall we had a great holiday with good company and got fantastic value. I think we`ll be back. 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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