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Sail Date: November 2008
Please enter your review. We loved our cruise on the Ventura. We flew to Barbados with Thomson (First Choice aircraft) and we particularly liked the fact that when we checked in our bags at Gatwick that was the last we saw of them until ... Read More
Please enter your review. We loved our cruise on the Ventura. We flew to Barbados with Thomson (First Choice aircraft) and we particularly liked the fact that when we checked in our bags at Gatwick that was the last we saw of them until we arrived in our cabin! We have never experienced this before; it was great! This was also the case on the way back. Only one gripe with the flight; we got exactly the same seats on the way back as we had on the way there. This meant that if you were luckily enough to get extra leg room seats on the way out you got them on the way back too. Equally if you were not sat together on the way out as we were, you were also not together on the way back. I don't know how they can get around this because it was nice to arrive at Barbados and go straight through security without having to check in bags. The first sight of the boat at Barbados was impressive to say the least. It is a large vessel but once on board and once you get your bearings it doesn't feel it. We thought it was a large ship divided into manageable areas. We were on Club dining second sitting and found the food in The Bay Tree to be of good quality and the service was excellent. We tried East and The White Room and found them both to be superb both in terms of the quality of the food and the service. Certainly worth paying extra for in our view. We had breakfast and lunch in one of the buffet restaurants and always found the food available to be of good quality and plentiful (unfortunately!).We never tried breakfast or lunch on the main restaurant. On the days that we were on trips at lunchtime we opted for Afternoon Tea which was a real treat with lovely sandwiches and cakes, scones, etc. As if that wasn't enough the "midnight munchies" were well taken care of as well! On the whole we enjoyed the entertainment on offer. We caught a few of the shows in the Arena theatre. The comic magician was good but we weren't so keen on the Irish comic on there one night. The variety shows by the theatre company were profession and well staged but weren't really out thing. We enjoyed the comics in the Havana bar but weren't so keen on the tribute acts (what would cruise ships do without "Stars in Their Eyes"?!? We liked a pre-dinner drink in the Red Bar especially on formal nights as it was a great place to admire all the lovely outfits! We thought Metropolis was a sophisticated venue but it wasn't that well used and we thought it lacked a bit of atmosphere. The video wall was impressive though. There was a piano in there but we never heard anyone playing it. Some life entertainment up there would have helped. Ramblas was also under-used; it was never busy which was a shame as it was a lovely venue. We liked the Tamarind Club as well and thought Siobhan Phillips was a great singer. We could have done without the "Game Shows" though. As other reviewers have mentioned the sun bed situation is a problem. I don't think I have ever been anywhere either on land or sea where this hasn't been an issue and I don't know what the answer is. There were so many you can hardly walk between them but you still struggle to get one! However if you are patient and keep looking you can always find one somewhere so it is really only a minor gripe. On our cruise we had four formal nights and the rest were smart casual. We loved the formal nights as it is lovely to get all dressed up and see everyone else all dressed up but we thought that three formal nights would have been enough. We really enjoyed the deck parties. We went to East the night of the Beach/Pirate party so only caught the end of the Theatre company show. It did seem to be going on a bit so we weren't sorry we missed it, but the party by the entertainment staff after was great fun. We also really enjoyed the sailaway sing songs. I think some people aren't keen and there was talk of stopping them but I think this would be a shame. The gym was well equipped but I don't think you should have to pay £7 for a fitness class. That being said the Zumba class was great fun and a good workout too. All in all we had no complaints about our cruise and would certainly go on Ventura again. We loved it!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Arriving at Barbados Airport, we were hit by the heat and the wonderful welcome. We were then escorted quickly and efficiently to a bus which took us to our Ship, The Ventura, along charming country lanes. Our first glimpse at the Ship ... Read More
Arriving at Barbados Airport, we were hit by the heat and the wonderful welcome. We were then escorted quickly and efficiently to a bus which took us to our Ship, The Ventura, along charming country lanes. Our first glimpse at the Ship left us with mouths wide open. It was enormous and so impressive. The embarkation process was swift and before we knew it, we boarded the vessel with our account cards. The ship was very easy to navigate and we were soon in our cabin. The cabin was beautifully appointed with a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, and dressing table, lit bedside tables and a balcony, from which we enjoyed the views of the Bridgetown harbor and a wonderful sunset. We did find that the cabin was made up with twin beds, but we informed our cabin steward, Angel, and she said that during dinner she would remake the bed into a double. We didn't even have to worry about our bags, as we were told they would be brought directly to our door. So we took the opportunity to explore the ship and have some dinner in our allocated restaurant, Cinnamon. We had chosen the option of Freedom dining, which meant that you weren't restricted to a certain time, this for us was by far the best way, as it allowed us to make the most of the plentiful activities available. The Cinnamon restaurant provided a diverse range of dishes, along with an extensive wine list. The food was always delicious and served in a very prompt and professional manner. There were tables of two available as well as larger tables, giving you the choice of an intimate meal or an opportunity to meet fellow passengers. For a more informal meal, at any time of the day or night, there were the buffet style restaurants, Waterside and Beach House. Again, the standard of cuisine was very high, and was a good option for varying appetites, as it is self service. A must are the Select Dining restaurants, Marco Pierre White's 'White Room', and East, serving Pacific Rim cuisine. We enjoyed dinner at each and the food was of the highest quality. There are many activities available throughout the day and night, including dance lessons, circus workshops, quizzes, fitness programmes, computing classes, golfing tuition, concerts... the list is endless, and it is just up to you as to the level of involvement. For us, we didn't do masses but it was always easy to join in, as a list of the daily schedule was published in the on board newspaper, Horizon. For those passengers concerned about the presence of children on board, there are equally as many activities organized for them, so much so that we hardly noticed them at all. There were a wide variety of shore excursions, tailored to the needs of every age group. We only did a few but they were very well organized and meant that you didn't have to worry about the time and when you had to be back on board. We visited Virgin Gorda whilst in the British Virgin Islands, a trip that we can both highly recommend. The beaches here were idyllic and we really didn't want to leave. Another benefit of the shore excursions organized through Ventura was that they are cost effective due to the transport being provided for you to and from the venue, similar trips can be taken but will usually mean more money, and again, no guarantee that you will be returned to the ship in a timely fashion. For quieter days, especially those spent at sea, we chose to make use of the deck areas for sunbathing and swimming. There is always someone at hand to serve you a refreshing cocktail or two! The service provided by the crew is first rate. You never want for anything. When it came to disembarkation, the process was very easy, all bags were taken straight from your cabin door to the plane and left you with a very relaxed trip back. All in all, the cruise was totally different from how we had anticipated, and dispelled our stereotypical ideas. We really enjoyed it, the first class service, a wonderful ship and a great climate. For a first time cruise, we hit the jackpot and would recommend it to anyone of any age. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
From the moment we checked in it was so well organized and easy. Straight off the plane, into a coach and to the ship. The check in staff were really friendly. We had never been on a cruise ship before and it was amazing from the moment ... Read More
From the moment we checked in it was so well organized and easy. Straight off the plane, into a coach and to the ship. The check in staff were really friendly. We had never been on a cruise ship before and it was amazing from the moment we stepped on board. We were told were we would find our cabin and it was so easy to find. My wife and I spent the first hour walking around with our mouths open in amazement! The cabin was spacious and clean with lovely furniture. The beds are so comfortable with big fluffy pillows. We had tea & coffee facilities, an amazing bathroom (the wife loved the shower as it was so powerful!), nice shower gel which meant we didn't need to use our own. We had a balcony with table and two chairs (I sat there every morning with my binoculars as we sailed into a new port). The first night we were put on first sitting dining but we wanted to change to late or freedom. The staff were so helpful and told us that if we went on the first sitting that night (which was fine as we wanted an early night) then we could go on freedom the following night. And the next night we moved to freedom. It worked very well for us. Most night we shared tables of either 6 or 8 and we met some really nice people, this made dining a very social event. The food was excellent - all courses were great. Mrs G never had the soup as she found it too much buy I often went for all courses. If there was not a main course that you wanted then you could ask for a steak - which I did once and it was good! Water was always available on the table so you don't need to buy a bottle. We went to both the White Room and East - these were something else. We both felt very treated and looked after. On port days we went for breakfast in the buffet. A good choice, I always had a fry up but the wife went for the fruit and cereal. On days at sea we ordered breakfast in the cabin which was free and delivered to the balcony for us. There was lots of entertainment. We never went in to the Tamarind Club for dancing as I have two left feet! But people at dinner said it was good. We tended to go to the Arena every night and watch either a show by the Ventura dance group (the Andrew Lloyd Webber night was out of this world)or a comedian - Peter Piper had the place in up roar - brilliant! Went in Havana a couple of nights for a disco and one night was a crew talent show (this was very funny and some really good singers).Our last late night drink was always in Metropolis - very relaxed. The staff could not do enough for you, our cabin stewards was a lovely man. On one day when we were sea all day we decided to spend the day sitting on the balcony reading - our cabin steward did not want to come in and disturb us so he telephoned us and asked when would be suitable for him to clean the room - very good service. He was always busy and always around incase we needed him. We never did a planned excursion and always went out to explore alone. This was our first ever cruise and always thought it would be an expensive holiday but we were shocked that it wasn't when you look at what you get for your money. We have been all inclusive hotels before but this was on another level. We are hooked and are all set for another cruise. It was one of the best holidays we have ever been on and were completely treated for two weeks. One word - Fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Our own embarkation was swift and hassle free although the same could not be said for our luggage - which did not arrive until some 6 hours after we had originally landed! Our cabin was fantastic. Double bed was sooo comfortable, ... Read More
Our own embarkation was swift and hassle free although the same could not be said for our luggage - which did not arrive until some 6 hours after we had originally landed! Our cabin was fantastic. Double bed was sooo comfortable, beautiful pillows and linen. Excellent Cabin Steward. Pleased and relieved we opted for a cabin with sofa and balcony - at times it was necessary to opt for our 'own space' - although the balcony was overlooked by all those above it. We were dreadfully disappointed with the lack of quality and quantity of shows in the Arena. The advertising led us to believe that there would be "full floor shows every evening". There was nothing of the sort for our first 3 nights and then we were treated to an absolutely terrible rendition of Saturday Night Fever. The team did up their game considerably in the subsequent shows - but then they needed to, but only appeared every other night. One of the Comics was appearing near Skegness 25 years ago - he's still doing the same gags! Jayne Curry in the Havana Club was brilliant however. We attended several art and jewelry talks which were time well spent. We also went to a culinary display which spurred us on to eat in the East Restaurant 3 times and the White Room twice. The whole experience in both of these restaurants is difficult to describe in words, suffice to say that the food, staff, ambience and dEcor are world class and we defy anyone to want better - we doubt it would be possible. Freedom Dining in the Cinnamon was also wonderful and we were always made aware of other options should there be nothing to our taste on the menu - there always was. We always opted for a table for 2 (we go on holiday to be together and really don't feel the need to share with others - which is apparently not the idea behind cruising). We did not enjoy the cramped conditions of sun beds - so we instead sunbathed on port days when it was relatively quiet and amused ourselves away from the masses on sea days. We were both quite shocked by the rocking of the ship through the night on several occasions. We most definitely would not wish to experience less calm water if this was how the ship coped in never anymore than 'moderate' seas. Although there were a number of children on board - they never caused us any disturbance. In the main the loud and disagreeable passengers were of the much older generation. Compared to the ports, shopping on board was extremely reasonable. We did do a couple of comparison checks and the ship was cheaper both times. The Lladro is a particular bargain. Iced coffee is a must from the bar on Deck 5 in the Atrium. The Spa is excellent but expensive - wait for the Port day offers. Visit Kevin for Reflexology - at the very least attend his Workshop. Talk to the jewelry guys in 'Eternity' they will not pressure you to buy but they are happy to talk to you about how to look out for the best stones and how to clean your old ones! Browse Whitewall Galleries - they've got some amazing artwork and are very knowledgeable and personable people. We were surprised and disappointed to realize that Port days meant we were sat along side something akin to Immingham Docks. At one point the view was a coal dump next to an EDF power station. Just as well that the arrivals and departures were impressive - make the most of them. At £19.95 for an 8"x6" photograph the ships photographers should have been far better at their job. We always buy photo's. We didn't buy any. We did miss the mixed nationality feel of a holiday - "oggie! oggie! oggie!" at the sail away parties is not our idea of fun. All drinks apart from any of the wine are reasonably priced - we bought a card of 20 large soft drinks for £20 which can also be used for ice-creams. The size of the vessel is beyond explanation. However, exploring the ship after your first week because you're lost again becomes more frustrating than enjoyable. We fail to see the need to hand luggage back ready for disembarkation so early (18 hours before we were actually due to leave the ship). Also, no-one told us about this - we found out by accident - 'first timers' not generally catered for in this and other respects - you are just expected to 'know'. Will we cruise again? No thanks. It was an experience that we can tick off our list but whilst we didn't hate it - we didn't love it either and when you consider the money it cost that simply is not a good enough verdict. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
Travelled from Manchester on december 20th one and a half hours late. This is nothing unusual so no problem there. Arrived in Barbados 8 hours later after a pleasant flight, quite fresh and looking forward too getting on board the ship. ... Read More
Travelled from Manchester on december 20th one and a half hours late. This is nothing unusual so no problem there. Arrived in Barbados 8 hours later after a pleasant flight, quite fresh and looking forward too getting on board the ship. The embarkation process is always efficient so all good there and the ship was impressive at first glance. The atrium was a little disappointing,a little small and boring. Found our cabin very easily as we booked very early and our agent was able to tell us what number it was so we could check on P&Os web site to locate it. The cabin was as we expected,reasonably sized with good storage.The bathroom was ok but the shower was quite small. Time to get to know the ship,its massive! trouble is there seems to be locked gates everywhere so hard to get around all the public areas. Although the deck space seems plentiful,its only when the sun beds were out the next day that the problems with space became obvious. there just isn't enough space between loungers,even more of a problem on sea days and we had more than our fair share of these on this cruise. 22.12.08 First call was Antigua and an excursion(kayak and snorkel).Too big a group and all a bit rushed, nice day overall though, my brother and his wife did the same trip in the afternoon and they felt the same. The evening was uneventful and the freedom dining experience was nice if a bit slow, good food but not much choice of desserts. 23.12.08 The next day was at sea and this is were it began to go a little sour on board. people became frustrated with the lack of sun beds and those who could get one had to be up early and climb over people to get on it as they were simply crammed in.Some rows were reported and it transpired that people reserved beds on both sides of the ship so they could move in the afternoon.Nowhere near enough entertainment on deck. 24.12.08 Grand Turk,saw it but didn't get onto it.The captain made his first announcement to say the wind was too strong and it would be dangerous to dock, well he should know best! So an extra sea day and more tension over sun loungers. Again no on board entertainment apart from a christmas songs cd on repeat in every area of the ship.My wife asked one of the entertainment staff if he could put some other music on so he just turned the christmas tunes up. 25.12.08 Christmas day at sea and a rainy start so not so bad getting a sun lounger. some young lads dressed as santa and an elf walking round the ship helped to brighten things up. Poor entertainment from the staff again,yes christmas songs on repeat again until the junior entertainment officer (LITTLE KEV)came out to play and got a good afternoon underway,just as well as the day was gettin lost. The food in all the restaurants was really good and the service was quite good considering the waiters were obviously having to work really hard to keep up and some people should be ashamed at their own behavior towards the waiters. 26.12.08 Boxing day at Catalina island and a beach barbecue.Nice day,rain trying to spoil it but not bad. The ship was tied to a buoy and we were tendered to the jetty.I missed it but it seems the rope snapped and the ship began to drift away,it was soon sorted and didn't effect the day. going back to the ship was troublesome as the wind picked up and delayed the tenders. 27.12.08 Tortola,NO! too windy again and another announcement from the captain,he's making a habit of this. Another enforced sea day and again nowhere enough happening on deck besides fights over loungers. 28.12.08 St Kitts today, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen blah blah blah" he doesn't have to say any more we can't land due to wind and we're stuck at sea, I feel like fletcher christian but they probably had better deck entertainment on the Bounty! 29.12.08 St Lucia,so thats what solid ground feels like,I was beginning to forget. Did some horse back riding overland and bare back in the sea,really good fun. 30.12.08 St Maarten.We are getting spoilt.Spent the first part of the day on the beach near the port,a really nice beach with nice people along it,drinks are cheap and the area is spotless. Then for the afternoon we visited Maho beach a couple of miles away $18 in a taxi.This is where the beach is at the end of the runway,look it up on google video,its mad! 31.12.08 Dominica. Walked around the town,not much to do here if you haven't booked an excursion and none of them appealed to us. 1.1.09 Dominica.Very hot,brilliant! Stayed on board and relaxed,listened to tales of people being thrown of the ship for fighting and trashing a cabin(note to P&O,if you slash prices then you will get cheap people). The new years eve party went well without too many problems,or so we thought,seems that in the early hours a bad fight broke out and a man was cut on the face with a bottle and a couple of young lads were caught by a passenger trying to set fire to one of the bars and more boys tried to set fire to the christmas tree. Under age drinking was a problem on this cruise. but who was supplying it? A few people were put off the ship for the fighting on the previous night. 2.1.09 Barbados. Catamaran & turtles excursion, we have done this trip a few times and has always been good value, recommend the 5 hour trip though, appeared a little crowded this time with some 10 catamarans around the turtles at once. We also visited a hotel which we stayed at in 2006 (Coconut Court hotel) great beach and the sea is excellent for nervous snorkelers or 1st time snorkelers, plenty of fish to hand feed. Review of Ship: The Deck Deck space is very crowded, particularly on sea days. Too many areas closed off to passengers. Smoking appeared to be allowed anywhere on deck, not confined enough to designated areas. Havana Bar Poorly planned in terms of layout and also the barriers separating the seating areas are far to high making it very difficult to enjoy the entertainment, with trip hazards on the floor from loose lighting strips, appears to be small steps from the isles to the seating areas. Exchange Bar: This can be noisy at times due to the casino being to one side. Tamarind: This was at times like sitting in a corridor with people moving around the ship from the Havana and the Arena Theatre. Entertainment: In the theatre the entertainment was average from the theatre company. There were two very good comedians/entertainers the second week. Sludge Lee was very poor, very old jokes. Jane Curry and Paul Baker were excellent, very good voices and talented. Scott Brutton (X FACTOR) was surprising OK. Entertainment on Deck Leon di ste coix - supposedly entertainment director, should be overboard, his management of entertainment on deck was well below standards previously seen on other ships, the standard from the entertainment staff overall showed no enthusiasm to entertain unless they were showing off to other ships and THEIR passengers what a good party ship we were on. Pity they were not this enthusiastic for us, especially on sea days when people are disappointed, there was nothing put on to lift them. A lot of entertainment seemed to be below deck, with art talk, computer talks, talks on the stars, and so on. The Ship Itself: Too big for some of the un-sheltered ports even when the seas are less than moderate, seems to be quite unstable, as if the stabilizers are not working properly. The ship has a very odd way of waggling its tail. Would we travel on Ventura again? At the moment we are booked on Ventura in May 2009, lets hope things have improved! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on ... Read More
My wife,Pat and I had only ever cruised once before on the Arcadia. This was two years ago when it was then the P&O's latest vessel. Our experience was a brilliant one,leaving us looking forward to the next one but not hooked on cruising to the neglect of other types of holiday abroad. Our only misgivings were that you only have a limited time ashore to explore and discover the countries visited. What it does do is give you a taste,which then encourages you to return at a future date to expand further. The food was magnificent,the entertainment was fantastic and the ship was awesome. When the offer dropped into our laps to cruise on the Ventura with upgradings at a reasonable cost we jumped at the chance as it had to be bigger and better than Arcadia ! Our first disappointment was on the second night when we went to watch the show. This was nowhere near as good as the talented group of performers on Arcadia. We thought that the performance would get better as the week progressed,but no,in fact it got worse. People were leaving before the end on most nights. This was particularly true with the second Comedian "Sludge" Lees who was awful ! The food in the Saffron was O.K. without coming up to the standard we had come to accept on Arcadia. The buffet restaurant (the Waterside) was nowhere nearly as good as on the Arcadia with poor choices available most of the time. Our experience wasn't helped by the wine-waiter throwing a glass of Chateau-neuf-du-pap over me on the second night. I'm still waiting for an apology from the lady in question and a replacement glass of wine ! They did launder my shirt and "cream" trousers however. Although we would prefer to cruise without children,the 20 or so that were on board during our cruise did not bother us and they were perfectly behaved. However the next cruise after ours had 450 children,that would have been a nightmare ! We renewed our vows whilst on board,which was a moving experience for us both. The package at £250 is not cheap,but we were glad we did it. The icing on the cake was that we had Captain Dowds to perform the ceremony as he was the Captain on the Arcadia on our first cruise. Sadly the 80 pictures taken by the onboard photographer left much to be desired and we were unable to select 24 for the album of the occasion (another £120) but luckily one of our table companions had taken some excellent photos of the occasion on our camera so we got our album at a fraction of the cost ! Ventura is big. Very big !! But we were left thinking that much has been lost in P&O's efforts to go larger. The experience hasn't put us off cruising,but we won't cruise on Ventura again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise and our 2nd with P&O - the previous one being on Arcadia in Feb 2008. The flight to Barbados was comfortable and on time. Although it was a ThomsonFly charter,the aircraft was actually a First Choice plane. Even though we had booked the cruise some 18 months earlier, we could not get an upgrade but even so, the plane was very comfortable with plenty of legroom and OK food. The transfer from the airport to the ship was excellent - (P&O seem to have got this sorted really well) - straight from the plane to a coach and then straight to the check in shed at the cruise terminal. Check in there was quick and we were soon on the ship. What a monster she is. Not really a pretty sight and it would be impossible to describe Ventura as a ship in the traditional sense - more a gigantic floating hotel. We soon found our cabin on C deck. This was compact and functional, clean and well equipped with tea and coffee machine, fridge, good hairdryer, interactive TV on which you can also view your account, comfy bed and good temperature control. The one surprise was the balcony. It was huge and contained only 2 ordinary chairs - like you might find in a works canteen and a small table measuring about 15 inches square. This was on a balcony measuring about 8 feet by 9 feet. Therefore most of the balcony was a waste of space. The balcony cabins on the ship are tiered and therefore if we sat at the front of ours, people in cabins above could see us and also we could see those on the deck below us. It was also easy to overhear conversations taking place on balconies around us. So it wasn't very private. The "bathroom" was very small. We were happy with just a shower but this wasn't overly large either!! However, hot water was in abundance - full marks for this. Senim, our cabin steward kept the place spotless throughout the entire voyage. There was ample hanging and storage space. We were supposed to leave at 20.00 but an announcement told us that some people had yet to leave the ship for the UK as their flight had been delayed and so our revised sailing time was given as 23.30. We all attended the compulsory lifeboat muster but really no one knew if everyone from cabins had attended as no one took our name or cabin number on arrival at the muster station. I thought this was all a bit casual. We had something to eat in the Waterside buffet restaurant which was nice and then our cases arrived at the cabin so it was unpacking and an early night. Our first day was a sea day on the way to Antigua. This was our first encounter with the dreaded sunbed saga. As we were towards the aft of the ship we preferred to sit on deck somewhere in that vicinity. We soon found that space was at a premium and that sunbeds were so tightly packed that it would have been difficult to actually sit on one unless you climbed onto it from the front. This then meant that you were literally cheek by jowl with the person on the next bed to you. We identified an area with a little more space on deck 19 but when we tried to get up there we found our way blocked by locked doors and gates, passages which led nowhere and a lift which went to that floor but when you got out of it you could not get through the door onto the deck. Eventually this deck opened and there was a scramble for beds in that area. It turned out that deck 19 was the Cirque Ventura area where there had been bungee jumping etc and also they had 3 big trampolines. However, all that was left was the trampolines - the rest of the "cirque" had been demolished and was being given over to sunbeds. To be honest, for the number of times the trampolines were used during the trip, they could easily get rid of that as well to free up more space for people to sit. We can endorse everything others have said about the sunbed situation on this ship. You had to be up at 08.00 to get a bed with some room around it. On Christmas Day all the beds were taken at the Terrace Pool by 07.15. Everyone knew there was a no towels rule for reserving sunbeds but to be honest, you had to ignore it otherwise you would not have been able to find anywhere to sit. The first evening was the Captain's welcome party but all that happened was that he came and spoke to the assembled guests and then left. There was no moving around in the cocktail party sense like we have had before on Arcadia and the QE2. Our next port of call was Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Christmas Eve. Lots of people were looking forward to this and we had booked a snorkeling trip. However, on arrival, we were informed by the Captain that it was too windy to take the ship alongside the quay and therefore this visit was cancelled. There was a lot of disappointment. We got our money back for the cancelled trip but somehow we were not satisfied and somewhat suspicious as to why the ship did not berth at Grand Turk. However we were in no position to question the Captain's judgment. Christmas Day was a sea day and the following day we moored off Catalina Island, an island owned apparently by P&O. It is situated just off the south east corner of the Dominican Republic. The ship moored with an anchor and a cable from the stern to a mooring dolphin. Passengers were ferried to the island's beach by tender. We decided to remain on board and I was on deck 19 when I heard a loud bang. On looking out over the rail, there was nothing to see but all of a sudden, the mooring dolphin "exploded" with a pall of smoke and the cable to the ship tore apart and whipped back to the dolphin. The ship then began to drift away from the island. A bit scary but things were soon in hand. Given that the call at Grand Turk was cancelled due to the weather, we did not see a great deal of improvement in the weather and sea state at Catalina Island. Indeed, some passengers were left bobbing around for 45 minutes in tenders on the return journey to the ship and many were not happy. The following day we were due in Tortola, BVI. We were looking forward to this, not having been there before. We took on the pilot and then there was an announcement that the ship would not be calling there after all due to the weather so we continued on to St Kitts. By this time, passengers were not at all happy. The next day we were due at St Kitts and having arrived and almost berthed, the Captain announced that we would not be calling there after all due to the weather. A near mutiny was evident!!! We were told that the ship instead would go straight to St Lucia, arriving there late afternoon. Again, we could not see any difference in the sea state between Catalina Island and St Kitts harbor - if anything, St Kitts was a lot calmer. We were told that the winds we had experienced were unusual. However, this is just not true. There is a period of what the locals call "Christmas Winds" which affect mainly the northern islands and are not infrequent at this time of the year. The question we and a lot of others were asking was why these ports were put on the itinerary if Ventura could not berth in those conditions. Of course the Captain has the last word but P&O are responsible for putting together the itinerary and they should see that it is suitable for the ship they are using. We do know that other ships berthed at these ports. The fact is that Ventura is simply too big and unwieldy to put in at some of the smaller more exposed islands. We managed to call at all the remaining ports on the itinerary - St Lucia, St Vincent, Dominica and St Maarten. We went on organized trips in St Lucia and Dominica and felt that they were good value for money. We had opted for freedom dining. We found this worked well as we preferred to dine around 19.00 which was perhaps earlier than a lot of people. We ate in East once which was very nice and in Whites twice, including Christmas Day evening meal. Very good. The food in the main freedom dining restaurant, the Cinnamon was generally good although some steaks were a bit tough. The service was good and pleasant - better we thought than on the Arcadia. We didn't drink in all the bars but we did like the Metropolis which has a great moving mural of a city scape at night - it changes each evening ie Sydney, London, Hong Kong etc. We felt that some of the other bars were a bit public - like drinking in a corridor. We are not great people for shows but those who did go to them came away with mixed reviews. To be honest, the star performer was held out as Scott Bruton who had made the final 12 in the X Factor. We thought he was poor on that programme so this was not a great draw for us. Some people were disgusted with the comedian. In all we felt the range of entertainment in the evenings was pretty boring. The ship could do with a a good triad jazz band performing in the pub or in the Tamarind Club to get people up and dancing. On one evening in the Tamarind, the dance band struck up and played for about 30 minutes and then when people were just getting in the mood for a dance, they stopped playing and we were invited to play Mr and Mrs!!!!! The best entertainment of the whole trip was the New Year's Eve party on deck at the Laguna Pool. Excellent DJ, excellent music, excellent atmosphere. I think that people had had so many disappointments with the cancelled ports that they were determined to have a good time!! The Great British Sailaway from St Maarten was also good fun. The ship was tastefully decorated with Christmas trees etc and generally people dressed up in the evenings even when it was smart casual. There were 3,000 passengers including several hundred children. The children never bothered us and I think that the facilities for them on the ship are very good. We were not disturbed with any rowdy behavior but we did hear that 2 people had been "arrested" for violence and that one had been taken off the ship at St Vincent. Overall, we made the best of things and enjoyed the trip and we had really good weather. Would we go on Ventura again? No. And there were a lot of people saying the same. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2008
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we ... Read More
As we approached Ventura after the long but comfortable flight from London Gatwick Airport to Barbados airport, the first view of the ship gave the impression of a multistory block of flats, but this view was soon to change after we embarked. The one thing that P&O Cruises do exceptionally well, are their transfer arrangements in Barbados. Luggage is transferred directly from the aircraft to your cabin. Coaches meet you near the aircraft steps and swiftly convey you to the ship, similarly at the end of the cruise luggage is transferred from the ship to your final airport destination and customs and immigration formalities are completed on-board prior to disembarkation. This saves a lot of hassle at the airport both on arrival and departure. On entering the ship, we were extremely pleased to find that she was tastefully decorated in rich colors, with a feel of spaciousness. There were plenty of comfortable chairs and settees, ideal for curling up and spreading out with a book. Traditional P&O style elegance abounded. All public spaces inside were spotlessly clean and remained this way throughout the cruise. On this cruise, we had chosen a balcony cabin on deck 11, port side. The cabin was compact and comfortable. There was good storage space and the added bonus of having tea and coffee-making facilities in the room was appreciated. The bathroom was adequate with excellent toiletries provided and the large fluffy towels were changed twice daily. There was an ample supply of hot water. There is an excellent interactive television system that offers many choices- from television channels to ordering in-cabin room service and to choose free and pay movies. You can shop, gain information - look at your on-board account and many other actions from this facility. Guests should also be aware that this service also acts as your messaging system. The comfort of the bed was average; it certainly did not have the "wow" factor. The covering was a flimsy duvet, which was not large enough to be tucked in and more often than not ended up on the floor. There is a good air-conditioning system, and there is adequate lighting and a refrigerator. Bathrobes are not provided on board, except in mini-suites and above. The balcony, of adequate size was furnished with two upright chairs and a very small low-level table. There was absolutely no privacy on the balcony as owing to the construction of the ship, the majority of balconies on decks 9, 10 and 11 are tiered --be aware of this fact when booking - we could look down to those below and they could look up at us. Additionally because of the design of the ship, conversations could clearly be heard from balconies three or four cabins away. The room was maintained in an excellent condition and serviced twice daily. There are three formal dining rooms on board - two for "club dining" - 1st and 2nd seating and the third for "anytime" dining. There are also other various specialist and casual dining venues. We found the food to be consistently of a high quality in all dining venues -plenteous and varied and especially designed to the British palate in the main restaurant and casual style buffet. The only disappointment was the very limited choice of breads. In the main Restaurant, dinner was well presented and expertly served. Great care is taken to cater for guests who have dietary requirements. Unfortunately breakfast in the main restaurant lacked any presentation skills whatsoever - breakfasts looked as if they had been just thrown on a plate. Yoghurts should be served in a dish and not presented in the container itself. The ship had over 3000 guests on board and never once, even on sea days did we have to queue or wait for seats in the self-service buffet. Dishes were replenished often and hot food was hot and cold food was cold. There are no free juices, other than at breakfast time. Free tea; with lots of different blends and coffee are available here 24 hours a day. There is a full and varied programme of entertainment, outlined in the Daily Newspaper - The Horizon. There is something for everyone. We found the production shows and most of the guest entertainers to be excellent offering professional and varied programmes. For a ship of this size, the Cruise Director and his limited number of staff did a great job. They were highly visible all over the ship, a pity the same could not be said of the officers, and gave the impression of being a most happy and caring team. Even on days when ports of call were cancelled due to bad weather, within a reasonable time, additional entertainment was arranged and relayed to guests. They are to be congratulated! There are the usual on-board shops offering a good selection of goods and usually at competitive prices, do be aware that the shop selling those items that you may have forgotten to bring with you, is, if they have not run out of goods, fairly expensive. There are free launderettes on board, but you have to purchase soap powder from this outlet. They charge 50p for 2 concentrated soap tablets. There is a luxurious spa offering various treatments and therapies. They do offer specials and details of these are messaged to you through your in interactive cabin television as are shop "sales" as well as being advertised in the daily newspaper. There is a well-equipped gym. Internet facilities are available. Although expensive - take advantage of the packages available and the special offers advertised. Specials are also available for the speciality restaurants. There is an excellent and knowledgeable Shore Excursion Team and tours bought from the ship are reasonably well priced and good in content. Occasionally, some tours do not reach their expected standards and to which they have no control - they do however listen and investigate and take appropriate action. There is a Future Cruise Consultant on board, who is most anxious to sell you a future cruise. Beware! She quoted us a price for the same itinerary and on the same ship next Christmas at a cost of £8600.00. We were horrified at this cost. We went next door to the Internet centre and checked P & O`s web site and found the same cruise, although in a different grade of cabin, but in a grade on the same deck with the same facilities, and almost next door to the one that she quoted for £4300.00. We returned a few days later to her, after having again checked our facts and confronted her with our information. You can guess her embarrassment. We asked her to check again and guess what? You are right. Obviously someone who works on a commission basis? We had originally booked the Christmas and New Year Cruise on the Oceana for 2009. However after a number of months, having paid the deposit and received confirmation - P&O cancelled the 2-week cruise and extended it into a 4-week cruise. We were offered a transfer to the 4-week cruise at a supplement - but as we could not get time of work had to decline. We were offered very minimal compensation if we were to book a further cruise with P&O within a specific time frame. We asked to be transferred to the Ventura but were told that P&O would not honor the price available at the time of our original booking, even though they had the advantage of having our deposit for some 5 months. The price had risen by £1000.00 - we did however receive our deposit back in full. Gone it appears are the days of honorability. Administration on the ship and Head Office leaves a lot to be desired. We had a query re on-board credit. The ship e-mailed their Head Office on 21 December and followed the query up with further e-mails - no response was received by the time we disembarked on 2 January and thus we did not receive the credit due to us. Additionally notifications originating from the Pursers Office were In-correct - especially in respect of disembarkation - these had to be withdrawn and re-issued on a number of occasions. Likewise in respect of the 1st edition of the Port information issued in respect of St. Vincent - the information provided actually related to the Azores - what a waste of paper, time and money - more attention to detail is required in this department. The Ships`s photographers do and good job and produce fine quality photographs, together with an excellent DVD of the cruise. Individual photographs tend to be expensive, but again packages are available. This was a Christmas and New Year Cruise and the ship was discreetly and sensitively decorated. There were excellent festal activities. There were, I understand over 700 children on board. This being the case P&O are to be congratulated on their programmes and organized events for those guests as they were very seldom seen and certainly not heard - most well-behaved and a credit to their parents and staff. The facilities for kids and teenagers are outstanding. Dress Code on the ship fell into 3 categories - formal, semi -formal and smart casual. It was pleasing to not that the majority of guests adhered to the dress code especially on formal evening. Following this cruise however, the dress code for this ship and the Oceana fall into only 2 categories - Formal and Smart Casual. There are numerous bars and other venues for drinks throughout the ship. Quiet bars, energetic bars or pool bars. Drinks are well-presented or excellent quality (except at the Captains Cocktail party - where they appeared to lack in alcoholic content) and were reasonably priced. There is a comprehensive wine list again not overly priced. The currency on board is the British Pound. In keeping with the P&O tradition, gratuities are extended on the final evening of the cruise by way of cash in envelopes. Although if you opt for Anytime dining, your gratuity for the waiters in this regard is added to your on-board account. Do be sure that you bring enough sterling for these gratuities. We had planned to withdraw cash at a facility at Gatwick Airport but it was out of order. Fortunately we had enough cash to cover the gratuities, as the Pursers office do not cash personal cheques. There are 3 modest sized swimming pools (one of which is reserved for adults) on board as well as a number of Jacuzzi's. Whilst there are large deck areas with sun beds, there are insufficient sun beds or space for the number of passengers on this ship. - There is just not the amount of required space and beds are so tightly squeezed together and you have to climb on to the sun bed and then sit on it. It does not help when passengers reserve sun beds for hours with their towels and then come along and remove their towels and walk away not having even sat in them. One morning at 7.45am all sun beds were occupied by towels and yet no sun worshippers. P & O do not have a policing policy on this issue - they need to adopt one - this was one of the major factors of discontent on this cruise. A suggestion as to how this might be alleviated is that the upright chairs on balconies be removed and replaced with reclining chairs, like those on the promenade deck. Many guests occupying such cabins would quite possibly tend to spend more time relaxing there than to fight for a sun bed on the open decks. Excellent reclining chairs are provided on the promenade deck. However as the ship has a strict no-smoking policy inside the vessel - many smokers tend to congregate on the starboard side of this deck as it is within easy reach of the bars, entertainment areas, restaurants and night club for their smoke. More ashtrays are needed and those broken need to be fixed and all need to be emptied more often than they are now. This deck also needs to be cleaned more regularly. Some guests on deck 8 - starboard aft, complained about the smoke drifting up from this deck and on to their balconies. They also complained about the noise experienced from these cabins during the early hours of the morning, when smokers from the night-club gathered on this deck. Noise was a constant problem when late night revellers were returning to their cabins in various areas of the ship when the discotheque closed at around 4.00am. There were reports that there were a number of fights on board and those guests were locked up in the brig, but we never witnessed any such fights or any real drunkenness. Unfortunately on the first week of the cruise, the weather was not kind, rain, winds and high seas. This resulted in the ship not being able to dock at 3 of the ports of call. The ship handled well during these conditions whilst at sea. However, it was disappointing that we missed these important ports of calls. Obviously something to do with the size of the ship and its design as guests on other cruise ships and on those of a similar or larger size had no port cancellations. She appeared to the able to dock when in the Caribbean but not at those ports at the edge of the Atlantic. As our fare had included port taxes and charges, it will be interesting to see if P&O refund these to the passengers as they would not have had to pay them and we did not avail of these services. The foregoing are thoughts and/or suggestions and are by no means complaints. They are also designed to assist others when planning their cruise vacation, as to some things that they may wish to consider. In all, we had an excellent cruise and would certainly travel with P&O again. P & O market the ship more towards families, but we feel that the Ventura is suitable for all, couples singles as well as families. We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional P&O experience and would recommend them without reservation. Well Done to all those who made this possible. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Can't fault the transfer to/from airport - Thomson holiday, but First Choice flight from Gatwick. Food terrible, but leg room good (Row 11). Same seats on return journey so ensure you choose wisely on way out. Once baggage checked ... Read More
Can't fault the transfer to/from airport - Thomson holiday, but First Choice flight from Gatwick. Food terrible, but leg room good (Row 11). Same seats on return journey so ensure you choose wisely on way out. Once baggage checked in - that's it until you receive it at your cabin. Excellent. Ship absolutely massive - first sight from outside showed fantastic promise. Unfortunately, on entering, dirty carpets and overall impression of tiredness - bit like it's newly arrived guests! What should have happened was that we would have been given a nice refreshing drink to welcome us onboard. Such a simple and cheap gesture would have made a very good impression. Not a sniff of one however! Cabin great. Appreciated the dressing area. Bathroom v. small but adequate. Steward (Victor)fantastic. Food - plenty of places to eat and all in all, not bad. Some dodgy curries on at lunch-time in Waterside restaurant - omelette for instance, but choice enough generally for all. Spa area - great. Wait for the special offers and treat yourself. We had 5 treatments for a total of £45.00, which we found to be great value and absolutely lovely. Pools - adults only area at the Terrace Bar much appreciated. Sunbeds - suggest you become a token German as otherwise you've had it! Note to pool guys - far too closely laid out. Give people a chance to breathe. They are on holiday! Entertainment - don't get me started!!! Absolutely dire. Shoot the blonde! Take ear plugs/blindfolds/empty brain/sense of humor and v. large drink. Better still, just don't bother - they don't! The other v. annoying thing was the entertainment director, Leon prat something or other, announcing over the tannoy in the cabins some insignificant news about his stupid itinerary. Go away you imbecile. Who cares what you've got to say and if they do, they can hear you half a dozen other times around the place - just don't invade our private space. Thank you. Islands visited - forget St Vincent and Martinique. Dreadful. Filthy. Unwelcoming. Otherwise, lovely islands and great beaches. $15 for two sunbeds and an umbrella. Great shopping in St Martin. Is that it? Seems so. Oh, the weather was great! Now where's that brochure for the Far East - on ANY OTHER SHIP! Cheers. Lindsey. 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
Sail Date: January 2009
The flight from Manchester to Barbados (Thomson) was comfortable but the service was terrible and the food no better. The transfer to the ship and the embarkation was extremely efficient as usual in Barbados. On return we were delayed - ... Read More
The flight from Manchester to Barbados (Thomson) was comfortable but the service was terrible and the food no better. The transfer to the ship and the embarkation was extremely efficient as usual in Barbados. On return we were delayed - expected these days - but service again was really poor. Cabins are absolutely fine - bathroom very tiny but OK. Food in the Waterside was OK but the salad bar and cold buffet selection was the poorest I have ever seen. If you have been to a Pizza hut and paid £1 extra to allow you to go to the salad bar then this was it. Bowls of cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, tasteless potato salad, chopped lettuce, pasta salad, and grated carrot - every day. You had the choice of wafer thin tasteless ham or crab sticks or a piece of smoked haddock. Never saw prawns or salmon as on other cruises. Paid extra and ate at the Marco Pierre White restaurant on 3 occasions and also East Restaurant on another 3 nights. Well worth it. Entertainment started OK with Neil Diamond look a like and a Rod Stewart look alike and then went down hill. There are no quiet bars for you to get away from the noise of everything else going on. Each bar is a thoroughfare, great for people watching but to have a nice quiet drink - no chance. No games room if anyone wanted this. Should anyone want to play bridge, whist, or join in a quiz then all these activities were done in a restaurant with the waiters setting tables around you. Sunbeds on sea days are a nightmare. They are so close together that you have to kneel on them and then turn around. One side of the ship was for non smokers but that did not stop anyone from smoking anywhere. The passengers could give the Germans a lesson on towels on sunbeds, not only did they reserve beds on one side of the ship, but on the other as well for when the sun moved. (By the way, they even reserve tables in the Waterside with the towels - I had a few moments in that restaurant). If you sat near the pool areas then ear plugs were required. The music is so loud, no chance of relaxing or reading at all. Sometimes it was not an option as there were no other sun beds. Children are unsupervised in the pools. Signs of no jumping or diving are displayed but obviously neither the children or the parents could read. We are not an old couple but this ship is just a floating Butlins catering for families. Very little concern for anyone that has come on holiday for a rest, a chance of a quiet area somewhere, nice food and decent entertainment. You sat through acts that you would never have dreamed of going to see at home. Ventura and maybe P & O not for us. 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: March 2009
Flight 9 hrs, leg space sufficient although quite narrow. Complimentary bar throughout flight. Disembark aircraft straight onto coach then within 30 mins arrive at barbados port and first breath-taking sight of the ventura. Following ... Read More
Flight 9 hrs, leg space sufficient although quite narrow. Complimentary bar throughout flight. Disembark aircraft straight onto coach then within 30 mins arrive at barbados port and first breath-taking sight of the ventura. Following security and credit card registration we were let loose on the biggest ship I've ever seen. We flew out on friday so had overnight in port then all day saturday in barbados plus half empty ship. All port reviews follow. Cabin was clean, and comfortable, with clean cotton sheets and duvet covers, the mattress was soooo comfy. Clean towels when required and of good quality and size. Food at all the standard restaurants was nice, always found much than than I needed to eat (and gained 10 pounds) Most of passengers on board appeared pleasant, courteous and enjoying themselves but in a well behaved way. I did unfortunately encounter one woman who 'hated everything and every minute' of being aboard, so gave her a wide berth! We always managed to get a sunbed 4 together most times, even on sea days, so I was happy about that famous complaint. The only few negative points of my experience are: Lack of ladies toilets, 1- unable to find them! 2- when found, always in a queue due to there only being 2 or 3. Also the entertainment, I felt terribly disappointed with the shows in the arena theatre, the dancers talent varies greatly, therefore poor co ordination with each other, also fed up with storyless type performances, it felt like a talent show most of the time. Other venues entertainment also poor, guest acts are all take off acts eg elton john, robbie williams, bee gees and some MIME! Also resident acts- appalling quality, especially a 'duo' of guys -ve personality and no audience command, singing to backing track (although could of sworn every third song was 'sweet caroline') very disappointing PO! Thank god for the comedians, but why some only get to perform in havana baffles me ???? Standing room only for foggy flax both nights. Fortunately we had and good company for this not to spoil our holiday Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
To start it was great to check in your suitcase at the airport and not see them again till they got put outside your cabin, again when we were going home we put our suitcases out the night before and didn't see them till we got to the ... Read More
To start it was great to check in your suitcase at the airport and not see them again till they got put outside your cabin, again when we were going home we put our suitcases out the night before and didn't see them till we got to the airport back home. The ship is beautiful very clean, the cabins are nice we had a balcony which i did enjoy, the room is kept very clean and our steward Grenville could not do enough for you, the food is standard, nothing to write home about, but if you go to the east restaurant and Marco Pierre restaurant it is a different story, the food is gorgeous, there is a service charge of £20 per person but well worth it. I found a lot of the waiters miserable a lot never smiled which i found disappointing, because the other cruises i have been on the staff were great always smiling and very friendly, that is what disappointed me about this ship, i was shocked with some of the staffs attitude, were not fussy people and don't like to complain, but on this holiday i did report 1 of the staff. There is a cafe bar called Tazzine and in the morning they have plates of fruit and yogurt in a glass cabinet and lunch time they have sandwiches and cakes, one afternoon my husband and i went to the bar and asked can we have 2 sandwiches each and a cake, we had only fruit for breakfast had a long walk out and now we were hungry, we was told we had to purchase a beverage and then we could have a sandwich, " no problem were having a drink anyway" so we ordered 2 teas 2 sandwiches each and a cake, when the waiter came there was 1 sandwich each, so we said can we have 2 sandwiches each please, the waiter said you want 2 each with a bit of attitude, so we said yes please, so he went and got us another 1 each, the tea was lukewarm but we just drank it. Anyway 2 days later we went again, 2 teas please 2 prawn sandwiches and 2 egg mayo please, waiter came back with 2 teas 1 prawn and 1 egg mayo, so we said we wanted 2 of each sandwich please, "you want 2 each madame" again with a bit of attitude, so i said yes please but i was a bit pi--ed of now and again the tea was just lukewarm but again just drank it. 2 or 3 days later at breakfast time i decided to go 2 the tazzine for the fruit and yogurt it looked lovely so here we go, the waiter said what would you like madame i said can i have a tea please, but can you make sure its hot please the last 2 afternoons I've had tea it has been lukewarm, he said the tea is always hot madame, so i said no the last 2 times it has been lukewarm, again he said no madame the tea is always hot,so i said take my word for it, it was Luke warm can you just make sure its hot please, yes madame, then i said and can i have a bowl of fruit please and a yogurt, he said no madame you are only allowed 1, so i told him to forget it. I was really pi--ed off now can you believe i was refused food which is supposed to be free on the ship, or should i say payed in advance, so i went and reported this guy i wasn't happy, but the manager listened and did make the guy apologise to me, but i can't believe his attitude in the first place. My husband has IBS and we went to the spa and they said have acupuncture and you will feel the benefit so he did, he had 5 sessions at a cost of £250 and they put a mud pack on him when he was having his sessions, when he finished his 5 sessions they said buy some mud packs and use them at home, so he did they cost £62,the next day when he was reading about the mud packs we found they were for cellulite, so we took them back to the spa and said in a normal pleasant way, can we have a refund on these please, the guy whom i sure is the manager looked in the bag and i tell no lies he flung his hands in the air and SHOUTED why you people buy these things when you people don't want them, my husband asked if there was a problem returning them and he said no,then again SHOUTED but i don't understand why you people buy them when you don't want them, so my husband started arguing with him, so i said excuse me my husband was treated with a condition which wasn't cellulite and these mud packs state on the box they are for cellulite, so he said OK madame i will refund you, but i couldn't believe the attitude, to happen once on the ship is bad enough but to be spoken to like that twice has just put me right of the ship, my daughter was going to get married on that ship but she has changed her mind, when you pay a lot of money for your holiday the least i expect is nice friendly staff, its a shame the few spoil it for the ones that are nice and friendly, but overall the ship is lovely clean and the excursions are good. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Booked at a Large well known T/A (never again!!) Names were mixed up on booking and several minor problems there meant more discounts every time they made a mistake. Flew with Thomson fly Manchester to Barbados great flight free drinks ... Read More
Booked at a Large well known T/A (never again!!) Names were mixed up on booking and several minor problems there meant more discounts every time they made a mistake. Flew with Thomson fly Manchester to Barbados great flight free drinks loads of leg room seat back entertainment (extra charge for "premium" films)and arrived fresh (ish) at Barbados. No formalities whatsoever right down the plane steps onto waiting mini buses to the ship. Checkin at the port was super quick within an hour of landing we were on board. We were in a mini suite (Princess' name)for our stateroom. I can't help but compare to Princess because to all intents Ventura is just like a Princess ship. Food was in someways better than Princess especially breakfasts, but evening meals were better on Princess better quality and more of it.....not that we went hungry. We were on anytime dining waits were minimal often had a table for 2 with no problem. Entertainment on a par with Princess. Ports of call were all good esp St Vincent where we took a powerboat ride along the island to a waterfall, to do some whale watching, see Pirate of the Caribbean location and a beach stop. Disembarkation was a breeze, you need to be "Immigrated" at set times according to your flight. Cases are left outside your room by midnight and the next time you see them is at your home airport. What could be easier??? Its a coin toss whether I would choose Ventura or Princess next time if the routes were similar! 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: January 2010
First time we had been on Ventura - the cabins are great. We had a super one with an extra large balcony at the aft end of the ship - this proved to be our sanctuary. Whilst this is quite a pleasant ship it certainly lacks the wow factor ... Read More
First time we had been on Ventura - the cabins are great. We had a super one with an extra large balcony at the aft end of the ship - this proved to be our sanctuary. Whilst this is quite a pleasant ship it certainly lacks the wow factor of Celebrity Soltice and is a good deal smaller even though it carries the same number of passengers. Our main disappointment was the lack of really nice places to go for a drink, a nice club bar was needed. The large bar at the top of the ship with its big video screen was the best, but on the whole the staff were not very pleasant or helpful. The biggest disappointment was the huge pub style bar which dominated along with the casino most of the midships area. This I likened to going to darts at the Lakeside Club!! Inane quizzes and football on TV in this huge barn of a room was not for us! Where had all the interesting talks from celebrities gone - in fact anything that would expand your mind a bit! The entertainment seemed to comprise of sales opportunities for the gym and spa or else shopping. I think there was also bingo! With no dedicated cinema, films were shown in different places around the ship and unless they were actually shown in the theatre then it was pretty unsatisfactory. The food in the Saffron restaurant was mostly acceptable, apart from a dreadful gala dinner. Although we did all say that the staff did not seem to be the usual happy bunch and wondered if there was some problem behind the scenes. Our regular waiters at dinner where pleasant, but that could not be said for some of the ones at lunch and breakfast. Whites restaurant was brilliant, however, and we would thoroughly recommend this - especially dining out under the stars - magic. We also enjoyed tapas at Ramblas. We had a horrendous Thompson flight out with a stopover in Shannon - making it 14 hours door to door (and we only live 5 mins from the airport)! On arrival in our cabin it was disappointing to have a filthy loo! The steward cleaned this with apologies and then worked hard to make amends, but not a good start. It was disappointing that some of the passengers did not keep to the dress code - bare chests and tattoos in the restaurants were not remedied by the staff. Perhaps they were too scared of some of the passengers, after two passengers were thrown off for punching a waiter! We avoided the main sundecks after finding some people shouting to one another and raucous laughter at the top of their voices. We all want to have fun, but found that there were too many of the loud ones to make the sunbeds a pleasant place to relax. We actually enjoyed the shows, although there was a lot of criticism from others. I know the main singer could not sing, but he had great stage presence!! The two acrobats and the dancers were fantastic. We enjoyed a couple of the comedians, although a Billy Connolly tribute act was absolutely dire and we were boxed in and could not escape! There were some pretty awful stand alone singers too. One girl, however, had a fantastic voice, but her comedy was sooooo bad we all felt embarrassed for her. Any show held in the nightclub, Havana, seemed to be dire - it really is a very horrid room. Having said that the sound insulation is very good as our cabin was over this and we could not hear a thing!! All in all, lovely to get some sunshine, but it was not only us who thought that P & O had become Butlin's at sea. Sadly after 10 years of cruising around the world, we don't think that P & O will get our business again - they have dumbed down too far. 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: January 2010
We have just returned from a 15 night cruise around the caribbean..its was me [26] partner [31] and daughter [3]...the flight with thomsons was great loads of leg room and had TV's in back on seats so you could choose what you wanted ... Read More
We have just returned from a 15 night cruise around the caribbean..its was me [26] partner [31] and daughter [3]...the flight with thomsons was great loads of leg room and had TV's in back on seats so you could choose what you wanted to watch or play games..flew to barbados and took about 30 mins from barbados airport to the ship...got though really quick and straight onto Ventura..the ships massive and took couple days to find way around.The only decks you can walk from one end of the boat to other is decks 7 and 15...the room was small ok just about for us [stayed inside cabin] but a family of 4 would of been tight.the cabin steward forgot to do our room twice..the cabin steward was ok didnt smile much or talk..the pools where nice but all very deep even the kids pool only had small ledge for daughter to stand..kids clubs where great but it was kids looking after kids...the drink prices where good £2.60 for pint and cocktails where around £3.50-£4.50 cocktail of the days £2.65 couldnt taste acahol tho..All the staff from servers in resurants to the ones serving drinks on deck and in bars where so misserable never smilled and where sometimes very rude...The main thing i would like to complain about Ventura is the ENTERTAINMENT or lack of it for our age group..one formal night we where all dressed up in our long dress's and dinner suits [which everyone wore on those nights] in one bar the had mr and mrs Ventura and another bar [which was supost to be the club] Deal or know deal on at 11pm..there was no discos and when DJ NEIL did come on he only played really old music my whole family [mainly my mum and dad who are in early 50's] complained to DJ NEIL and he would be very rude back saying he had to cater for everyone be he never played any modrn music until we requested a few songs they where sometimes played...This boat is good if your only going on the ship to get around to the islands...So the boats lovely,They need a pool thats shallower,better entertainment a club with modern music or live music for 18-30's,SMILING STAFF,helpful friendly staff...we enjoyed the cruise overall but i will defantly pay more and go on the american ships next years the service on them is ten to one and the service and staff on Ventura need to learn a lesson from the american ships.. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We have just being on a two week Caribbean cruise on P & O Venture. This being our first cruise meant we went with an open mind and few expectations. Right from the start we were very impressed with the professionalism of P & O. As ... Read More
We have just being on a two week Caribbean cruise on P & O Venture. This being our first cruise meant we went with an open mind and few expectations. Right from the start we were very impressed with the professionalism of P & O. As on landing at Barbados, there was no waiting for our luggage and we went straight to the ship. We were processed very quickly and given assistance to our cabin. After a few hours our luggage was waiting for us outside of our cabin. We were very pleased with the size of our cabin, (Stateroom with Balcony). It was plenty big enough for us, it was very clean and well presented. Our steward maintained the same standard throughout the criuse. The Venture is a very large ship and it took some time to get round it, and even at the end of the cruise we were still getting lost. We had paid for Freedom Dinning which lived up to expectations. As this gave us the flexibility we wanted. We were very pleased with the quality and presentation of the meals which were excellent. The waiters were very good and gave excellent attention, plus they never rushed us. The costs of the drinks was very reasonable, and compared favourably to the cost of drinks at home. We eat breakfast mainly in Shaffron Restaurant and again found this to be an excellent restaurant. We visited a lot of the bars throughout the ship and found the cost of the drinks to be very good. Even though there was sometimes a delay in receiving our drinks after ordering them. We liked the Breakers bar in the day and in the evening used the Metropolis Bar. The only bar we didn't like much, was the Havana as the design of it was not good for watching a show, plus it got very busy on some nights, to the degree people were standing in front of the audience. P and O should look at redesigning this room, removing the barriers which would give more seating. We saw a lot of the enterainment mainly in the Arena Theatre, which was a good theatre. Some of the entertainment was excellent, this included the Venture Theatre Company, plus there were some excellent comedians. The singers were however hit and miss, even so we enjoyed the Robby Williams and Freddie Murcery Tributes acts. There was plently going on all day and night on the ship, and in reality it is impossible to do everything. We found the daily Horison newsletter and the Island information leafletreally helpful. As these enabled us to plan what we wanted to do the next day. Most of the islands we visited were excellent, and varied enough to make each stop different. The only island I was not impressed with was St Vincent, and if we had not gone on a fast boat ride from the dock side, we would have stayed on the ship. We however loved Grand Turk as this was our idea of a desert island, Antigua was beautiful and Nelson's Dockyard was a must see. If we had more time we would have gone to a beach as well. At St Lucia we took a bus trip to see the Piton's which was a hike however it was well worth it, as the view of them was a must see. Next time if I went to St Lucia, I would go to one of beaches as Rodney Beach is excellent. St Marteen had a great beach right by where the water taxi comes in and only cost 6 dollars both ways. On all of the islands we used US Dollars, and found most gave us change in US Dollars. On the advice of others we did not arrange any trips on the ship, and on each Island, local taxi's or minibuses were there to offer very similar trips at half the cost. However, I would advice us negotiate the cost of the trip and only pay at the end. If you want to do a particular trip such as swimming with the stingrays or going on a helicopter ride then book these with P & O. We found the Island people very helpful and informative. We had no trouble when on the islands. When on the ship we found there was plenty of sun beds and could find one even on a busy sailing day. Overall we have no complaints regarding our cruise which we thoroughly enjoyed. We would recommend the Venture to others, and gained the impression from speaking to others who had already being on the Venture, the initial problems appear to be addressed. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Friday 13 Doncaster to Barbados To Doncaster air port for 7 am flight delayed until 11am boarded ok but slowly In flight was good upgrade to premium was worth the extra, it plenty free drinks 4 meals and attentive service Landed in ... Read More
Friday 13 Doncaster to Barbados To Doncaster air port for 7 am flight delayed until 11am boarded ok but slowly In flight was good upgrade to premium was worth the extra, it plenty free drinks 4 meals and attentive service Landed in Barbados it was 27C straight off the plane into a minibus, 1st away and to the ship 40 minute drive to bridge town, the luggage is bonded and sent directly to the ship and your cabin Settled in and went for dinner in the cinnamon dining room which is dedicated to freedom dining we had a very nice meal in this very large smart restaurant Saturday 14 Barbados Excursion around the island interesting a lot of run down shacks with galvanised sheet roofs but interesting the high light was to be a visit to a beach with a dedicated lounger and umbrellas it did not happen We were left to are own devices and final dragged a couple of chairs under a tree where we were next to a building site and accompanied by the sound of a cement mixer for 2 hours Back to the ship and a complaint just managed lunch in the waterside which closed at 3 pm. On the ship you can always get something to eat as there is always one of the other grills or dinners open, for example, the beach house serves a full English breakfast from 0800 to 1200 and then remains open until 930 pm with a buffet and later as an American dinner The waterside has a breakfast from 0630 to1030 lunch from 12 to 3 then afternoon tea At 6 to 930pm there is always a speciality buffet ie Indian Chinese Italian etc There are also the 3 main restaurants aft that must seat between 300 to 500 each and the 3 speciality pay extra 'cover charge' restaurants Sunday 15 At Sea So a chance to wandered around the ship finding our way checked the pools and bars (there are eleven of them ) shops and had lunch in the waterside Tonight was the captain's cocktail party and formal dinning nothing special really went freedom dinning in the cinnamon In the evening we went to see a Neil diamond lookalike but he did not impress us Monday 16 Antigua Berthed across from silver seas shadow her top deck was level with our balcony and we are on deck 9 Ventura has a total of 18 decks, 15 to the pool deck and a further 3 aft housing fitness centre lounge bars and a restaurant The morning was spent lazing, we took advantage that most of the other passengers and particularly the kids were on trips and the pools were empty, so we swam and took it easy had an early lunch, The buffet salads and hot choices are very good That afternoon we took a trip to Nelsons dockyard with stops off both at 'Shirlyies heights' which was an old colonial officers quarters and then at the remains of an old English defensive fort for the views Nelsons dockyard has been refurbished showed what it looked like in Nelsons time, with all the old buildings that were stores held equipment and housed the men while their ships were being overhauled Although they now served as holiday apartments restaurants and bars Return to the ship 1700 we sail for Grand Turk Sat on the balcony and watched as we 'rotated 'in the harbour and left Antigua, tonight we dined in the beach house American style diner and had an excellent steak This evening Took it easy and visited some of the entertainment finishing up listening to a Billy Connelly tribute that wasn't too bad, I laughed at his jokes any way, had an early night Tuesday 17 at Sea Breakfast in our cabin as usual, chased up the inter connection once again, then had a wander around went for lunch, looked at the shops, visited the library, really quite stressful this cruising lark Tonight is once again formal dinning Wednesday 18 Grand Turk an island 6 miles long x 2miles Walked ashore checked out the cruise terminal duty free shops had a walk through the local shops nearby but there is not much to do here its mainly the beach and scuba diving so we bought some duty free and came back for lunch and a swim in the pool We sat on deck had an double choc ice cream and watched the sail away'sing-along' as we departed its like this each time we leave a port they have a great dance rave up on the pool decks either disco or a steel band and every one joins in its great not to be missed Thursday 19 Catalina Island I have finally sorted out my internet connection now I am able to send from our cabin using my laptop via the cabin router through Ventura's 'seamobilecafe' It has been a steady 28 C all week and we are just leaving Catalina Island part of Dominica we have been taken ashore by tender landed on this idyllic beach were we have been swimming in the sea, and lounged under the palm trees, the best day yet The ships galley and bars transferred loads of food and drink ashore by tender, where they set up their own bar and ran a BBQ, all staffed by the guys that normally served you in the bars and restaurants on board. Quite a logistical feat serving 3200 people on a beach in 4 hours it was quite surreal to see the waiters who normally brought you drinks at the poolside or in the lounges bringing them to you along the beach so it was eat drink and enjoy yourself After a tiring day we could not be bothered going for dinner so we order a meal in our cabin from room service and chilled out, it only took 20 minutes before there was a knock on the door and the meal was ok, you just cannot fault the service and politeness of the staff which is excellent Friday 20 at sea Half way through the cruise!! Usual breakfast in our room got waken up with it fact, did some washing in one of the laundrettes, (each deck has one) , went for lunch looked in the shops sent some emails read dozed, had a quiet day Formal night, black and white theme Saturday 21 St Kitts Called off its too windy to go along side so another day at sea heading for St Lucia before the wind stops us entering there Sunday 22 St Lucia (along with Sea Princess and Pacific Princess ) Morning Arrived in Cruise terminal and we tried to do it alone, failed miserable ended up on the same beach as the tours and paid the Taxi twice as much and then it cost us £15 for the sun beds which were useless not amused still the island looked nice and its very touristy with lots of very exclusive hotel complexes for example there are 3 all inclusive "Sandals" here 6 o clock We have just left St Lucia it was really hot 30 °C nice to return to the ship and the air condition, had a burger and pizza by the pool instead of the usual lunch buffet We are off to St Maarten tomorrow, this week we are in the Windward Islands last week we were in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean We are off for dinner but cannot decide on whether it's the sea food buffet, the formal dining restaurant or Spanish tapas, of course we could go oriental but there is a cover charge of £10, still that's choices for you on Ventura! Monday 23 St Maarten (along with Wind spirit (a modern sailing ship with aluminium masts ) Serenade of the seas (royal Caribbean) and Maasdam...a Holland America ship Shock, horror we had to miss breakfast in our cabin and join the rest of the rabble at the restaurant because we were booked on a 0845 trip to the beach It was a good call though, after a long trudge along the jetty we set off for a long winding and very steep drive in an open sided bus, going from the Dutch side to the French side of the island( St Maarten is split in two and is owned by both countries)we were taken to orient beach There we were shown into our own sectioned off area of the beach laid out with comfortable sun loungers with big umbrellas right by the Atlantic surf crashing on the beach There we swam in the very warm blue sea and battled the waves, and had fun, it was great, the breeze blew, and there were all sorts of water sports to watch. There were little bars and restaurants along the back of the beach, you could hire any type of water sport equipment from snorkel to jet skies, we had a great time, Oh I forgot about the 2 glasses of complimentary rum punch Then it was back to the cruise terminal check out the shops and had a late lunch at 3 pm on board We sail at 6 pm as usual and As usual as we leave a port they have sail away'sing-along' a dance rave up on the pool decks either a group a disco or a steel band Ate in the Rambles tapas restaurant very nice not allot on your plate but adequate and different Tuesday 24 Tortola in the BVI Lazy day in the morning In the Afternoon we have Booked a trip to pussers landing, we got into this 'bus' which was in reality an open sided converted pick up with bench seats and no seat belts This in its self wouldn't have been so bad except that we then started a very hairy journey up some very steep twisting roads which the lake district would have been proud of,Hard Knot pass has nothing on these roads, there are no road marking and they drive with one hand on the horn After a while we had a stop off for ½ hour at the beach on Cane Bay, which would be a good trip on its own, it was a nice spot with a bar and restaurant and we bought some gifts, then it was on to 'Pussers Landing' where we stayed for an hour but this realy wasn't enough time you need 2 hours at least The trip back was not the mountainous route taken earlier but a slightly calmer one along the main high way In the main town, there is plenty to do here doing your own thing, there is a decent size town and a lively market It was English night in the waterside restaurant with the biggest joint of beef I have ever seen in any carvery it must have taken 2 too lift Wednesday 25 Dominica in the Dominican Republic Just went ashore looked in a few stalls but didn't stay long, you need to take the formal trips here if you want to see any thing interesting, there isn't much in the town it would have been better to spend 2 days in Tortola We are ate in the EAST restaurant it was worth the cover charge the meal was spot on Thursday 26 St Vincent Stayed on board childed out Friday 27 Barbados Returned home , our overall impression was the ship is brilliant the skipper Captain Allister Clarke puts his stamp on it and its reflected in the happy way the whole ships company respond to the passengers, I would sail with her again 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
The Ventura certainly lived up to the hype in the P & O brochure with one exception. The holiday cruise was a joy from the moment we arrived at Birmingham airport through to our flight home. The excellent service with the staff on ... Read More
The Ventura certainly lived up to the hype in the P & O brochure with one exception. The holiday cruise was a joy from the moment we arrived at Birmingham airport through to our flight home. The excellent service with the staff on board going out of their way to ensure we had everything we wanted to make our holiday perfect. We had a superb stateroom with balcony on deck 11 - great views when sailing into the islands, very quiet and great location close to forward lifts. 24 hour room service available at no extra charge - great choice for breakfast on sea days Impossible to get any cold water - design problem possibly. Excellent maid service in room. Dining arrangements and the food offerings were outstanding with ample choice of food choices with too many options generally the norm. The onboard facilities, swimming pools, gym, pub venues, snack bars, shops and the art gallery are all first class. In all these areas the Ventura excels however just one major area of disappointment was the entertainment. The choice was very varied however it was below standard compared with everything else on Ventura - one favourite comedian Manual Martinez we have enjoyed on previous cruises was scheduled to perform and although spotted on the boat never performed ! The inclusion of an ex BBC weather reporter for the late night entertainment in the main theatre remains a mystery. The other complaint we had ( and also voiced by other passengers) was the hideous design of the Havana night spot/bar which comprised seating areas with barriers which restricted the views of the artists! A design fault which should be rectified. Was the cruise value for money -yes without a doubt Are we going to travel with Ventura again - yes definitely (Can't believe the entertainment would be this poor again) Would we recommend the boat to friends and relatives - undoubtedly Highlights - the food, the service, the friendly staff and the sublime food in the White Room (Pierre Marco White restaurant) We will be talking about this holiday for a long time.. If you are thinking about cruising on the Ventura - book now you won't regret it 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
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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