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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
Although we have cruised a couple of other times with different cruise lines, and we really should have known better than to take to much notice of the bad reviews, we were a touch apprehensive when holiday time arrived.The check in at ... Read More
Although we have cruised a couple of other times with different cruise lines, and we really should have known better than to take to much notice of the bad reviews, we were a touch apprehensive when holiday time arrived.The check in at Birmingham Airport was smooth and the flight on the new Dreamliner was ok with the exception of the meals which at best can only be described as filling.We arrived in Barbados on time,and were quickly shown onto buses which took us straight to the cruise terminal ( no waiting around for luggage and going through immigration etc ).The embarkation was quite quick and slick and we were on board in the cabin, and changed within 1/2 an hour. The balcony cabin on Riviera deck aft was not enormous but lovely and clean and perfectly adequate for a 2 week cruise ,the walk in shower was large enough with an ever ready supply of hot water and plenty of clean towels and toiletries supplied.We spent the first full day on the beach at the Boatyard and had a very good day.We were allocated freedom dining in the Cinnamon restaurant and can honestly say we enjoyed every meal,we had a very good choice on the menu and always received first class service from the waiters.We breakfasted at the Saffron restraunt or in the Waterside Buffet and there was always seating available or we were seated straight away. The entertainment from the Headliners and the various Solo artists , duos etc through to Tom O Connor were first class and i can honestly say that we enjoyed all the shows tremendously.A special mention to Tom O Conner who packed the theatre 4 times any delivered very funny shows without a swear word or rude joke. Ponta del Garda gave us the opportunity to visit the Crater Lakes and a Pineapple Plantation along with some beautiful gardens and was a welcome break during the atlantic crossing. This brings me to the only slight negative on the trip for us and it was that we thought there could have been more variety with the daytime activities that were offered ,but this is personal and i am sure a lot of the cruisers were more than happy with what was offered.To sum up,far better that we expected and certainly not as bad as a lot of reviews made out we had a fantastic time and will certainly travel with P & O again.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
Good flight out on dreamliner, quick efficient service to ship, lovely cabin superior delux d218 only drawback first nite not much sleep as directly above lifeboats and noisy where maybe a rope or something was loose and made banging ... Read More
Good flight out on dreamliner, quick efficient service to ship, lovely cabin superior delux d218 only drawback first nite not much sleep as directly above lifeboats and noisy where maybe a rope or something was loose and made banging noise, but was sorted next morning, visit lovely islands our favourite was Grenada, food good chose freedom dining in the Saffron restarant, charming young boys as waiters, new lots about the food being served, entatainment quite good but could not always get a seat, all staff went out of their way to help you, looking to book another cruise for my husbands 70thtaking our daughter who has special needs so will need to choose the right cabin. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
We arrived at Glasgow Airport with some anticipation as a fortnight before our cruise date we were informed of a change of aircraft for our outbound flight to Barbados from a Boeing 767 -300ER to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We had previously ... Read More
We arrived at Glasgow Airport with some anticipation as a fortnight before our cruise date we were informed of a change of aircraft for our outbound flight to Barbados from a Boeing 767 -300ER to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We had previously booked our seats 18a and b. While sitting in the departure lounge we were quite disconcerted when we noticed our parked aircraft suddenly surrounded by Airport Fire Service Appliances with all emergency equipment in operation, after an extensive examination of the aircraft all emergency staff stood down and boarding of the aircraft began. First impressions of the aircraft were good, appeared to be very light, spacious and roomy. Once seated, I was next to the window which was bigger than on previous aircraft and offered a better view I noticed the seat was only slightly narrower but had much better legroom ( I am 6' 1" ) the seatbelt was longer, ventilation was much improved. Having pre booked seats in the 2-3-2 layout of the 767 aircraft we were seated in a row of 3 seats on the 787 no other passenger was seated beside us which was good as it gave us some extra space, this applied to our return flight as well. Once airborne I found the aircraft to be somewhat quieter than usual, the flight crew were very pleasant and cheery and looked after us better than our last long haul flight on BA.Only thing I did not like was the fact there is now no choice of food in economy class, oh sorry there is "Take it or Leave it"' I appreciate costs have to be kept down but it is a long flight to endure without something to eat if you do not like what is offered, in this case Pasta Bake . After a relatively quick flight time of 7 hours 45 minutes we arrived at Barbados alighting from the aircraft I felt quite refreshed and bright, we experienced P&Os usual seamless transfer to the port and took approx 20 minutes to check in and board the ship. We had booked cabin C102 (Port side just below the ships Bridge) but prior to departure found we had been upgraded to A430 (Port Side Midships adjacent to Lifts), while losing out on the large C Deck Balcony we found our new cabin to ideally situated for all of the ships amenities.We have occupied this type of cabin before so it was no suprise to use , the cabin was clean, showing some signs of age( the ship has been in service for 7 years), such as the balcony handrail needing revarnishing but certainly nothing worth complaining about. Our cabin steward Harak introduced himself to us, he was very friendly and only to happy to comply with our request for ice and lemon to be provided on a daily basis. I also requested a feather pillow as I do not like foam pillows. Throughout our cruise Harak was very attentive without being obtrusive, our cabin was kept spotless and on some evenings we returned to find an additional occupant in the form of a towel animal. Our luggage was delivered to the cabin within 4 hours of boarding. Thereafter we called at our usual port of call Breakers Bar for something refreshing to quench our thirst, only to be disappointed to find P&O no longer have draught "Banks" lager on board, however our disappointment did not last long as we were offered Draught "Peroni" lager which fitted the bill perfectly. After freshening up we attended "Emergency Drill" and thereafter had an enjoyable meal in the Beachouse Buffet. Dining: We had chosen Freedom dining and were allocated Cinammon Restaurant although after the first night we could have chosen to dine in either Cinammon or Saffron dining rooms. While not deaf I find it difficult to hear table conversation if seated in the centre of the dining room and therefore always request a table near to a wall or in one of the alcove areas, this request was met by Arun the restaurant manager and we were seated at table 111 attended to by Monal and Raj, and wine waiter Jack, the service provided by these three Gentlemen was in my opinion excellent. We had met a former colleague and his wife who were on their first cruise at the airport, and had invited them to join us at dinner which they did, on the first formal night we had a table for four and one of the main course choices was Lobster, I knew from previous experience that the portion could be on the small side and I asked Monal if I could have two portions my request was met and thereafter every night we ate in Cinammon Monal offered myself and our fellow diners an additional portion of their main course choice. All food served was piping hot, very tasty and most enjoyable, however I did overhear other passengers commenting that some of the food was bland and tastless, possably depends on what they had chosen. I personally like strongly flavoured, spiced food but as I have said found all my food to be tasty. We also made use of the Glasshouse, Waterside Buffet, Beachouse(Waiter Service), and East for Evening Meals. Glasshouse: We attended a "Taster" Dining night in the Glasshouse at a cost of £30 per person. The meal is limited to approx 20-30 people and has to be booked in advance as it is popular and is held two or three times per 14 night cruise. It is a four course meal including a large fillet steak, each course is accompanied by a selected glass of wine to comlement the food. This meal is excellent value for money. Waterside Buffet: The main buffet restaurant hosts various theme nights throughout the cruise such as Caribbean Night, Tandoori Night, Great British Menu Night,etc,we chose to attend on Tandoori night and had an excellent meal although not as highly spiced as I like, but they have to cater for all passengers not just me. Beachouse(WaiterService): This is part of the buffet situated at the aft end of the ship on the starboard side and is turned into a waiter service restaurant in the evening(non book able), there is cover charge of £5.00 per person and a very small charge on some of the menu choices EG: £2.50 for a lava rock cooked fillet steak. They used to charge £7.50 for this prior to the introduction of the £5.00 cover charge for entry. East: I never had the inclination to use this restaurant on previous cruises as I didn't think it was my idea of an Asian Restaurant, but as we had a large amount of OBC, the boss decided we would give it a try. What a revelation the food was superb to such an extent I felt I had to have a second visit which was even better . We had excellent table companions in Graeme and Carol,Pat and Keith, Gordon and Jean we met up most evenings and were allocated a table in the sector covered by Monal and Raj. On the last Formal night our table companions had all elected to dine at other venues and we therefore elected to share with other passengers within our usual area, we were most surprised to be joined for our evening meal by The Venturas Captain Simon Terry, he was an excellent table companion.On all of our cruises with P&O this is the first time we have ever seen the Captain dining in one of the MDRs. Breakfast: This was always taken in the Beachouse about 8.00am before the busy time, varied selection of food through cold meats, cheese, fresh fruit, cereals, full English , with poached eggs/Omellettes, black pudding/ waffles/ pancakes on request, I always found breakfast a tasty start to the day. Lunch: Lunch was a very tasty Pizza from the deck 15 Pizzaria, the chef Jayghill was only to happy to make me a Pizza of my choice from the available ingredients , the Pizza Menu only lists a selection of 5, but as long as they are not to busy(such as Sea Days) Jayghill and RJ(Assistant Chef) would make passengers their choice per ingredients. Ports Of Call: We have been in all of the Ports before and as the boss is prone to car sickness if not driving we tend not to do excursions , however on this cruise we decided while calling at Tortola we would do the excursion to Jost Van Dyke an Island off the North Coast of Tortola. Jost Van Dyke is reached after a ferry trip of appox 1 hour and is a fairly underdeveloped island, on arrival in a small bay you are transported by road a short distance to another bay where there is a beautiful white beach with a few small beach bars including the famous "Soggy Dollar Bar" the home of the "Painkiller" Cocktail. All Sunloungers/sun Brollies are free of charge for those on the excursion and a barbecue Lunch and one free drink provided,additional drinks are at a small charge(Rum Punch $2.00). The beach is quite popular with the sailing fraternity and throughout the day we were joined by a number of large and small yachts . Entertainment: Having cruised a number ot times we are well used to P&Os Entertainment but we still enjoyed the Headliners shows as each troupe puts their own mark on the shows, I thought this years group gelled very well and complimented each other's individual contribution. I am not a fan of comedians but attended both shows by Roy Walker which I found very entertaining, no swearing, no outright smut but a wee bit risqué , and no running about the stage shouting at the top of voice like a madman .(Perhaps a sign of me reaching old age). Bars: During the day we usually made use of the open deck areas near to Breakers Bar, where we were served by Edwin who within a day or two new our names and our order off by heart, we found the waiters attentive but not in our face, in my opinion the waiters can't win some people complain they are subjected to hard sell, others that they cannot get service. I have always found a polite No thanks suffices,after all they are only doing their job. Prices were on par with a busy town centre pub. In the evenings we always had our nightcap in the Glasshouse where we were well looked after by Stephen and AJ. All the Glasshouse staff were very friendly and prepared to spend a couple of minutes in conversation, however this is a popular bar and can be busy. Staff: Throughout our cruise we found all staff we had dealings with to be friendly, efficient and helpful, we have read reviews on this site stating that staff on Ventura were surly, unhappy and not prepared to interact with passengers, well they must have had a complete crew change as we had no experience of that type of behaviour. Some of the crew have an excellent command of English while others have not and this may give some passengers the impression of rudeness, I have always found if you take the time to speak to crew members they will do their best to reciprocate. However some of my fellow passengers(a minority) have obviously forgotton how to say Please and Thank You. Weather: Having cruised in the Caribbean since 2005 mostly in February/March we found the weather this year to be erratic in that we had rain every day of the first week, not a lot but unusual and strong winds throughout both weeks. This did not affect our overall enjoyment of the cruise however. Overall impression of ship: Ventura has now been in service for seven years with one refit in that time, she is showing some signs of wear such as dents and scrapes within the lifts, carpets showing wear, balcony handrails needing varnished etc but nothing that can't be dealt with by ongoing shipboard maintenance. After all she does carry approx three thousand passengers every fortnight none of whom ever drop anything on the carpets, bang into things or accidentally damage fittings. To finish we had a great cruise overall, nothing to cause complaint and we met some very nice people including those who we chose to dine with and others such as Jacquie and Ian Ramage. While onboard we took the opportunity to book next years Caribbean Cruise which will be taken aboard Azura as Ventura is not venturing to the Caribbean. Disembarkation When disembarking at Barbados we had to vacate the cabin by 0900 however you are allowed to remain on the ship and use all facilities until your flight is called, thereafter you disembark and board buses which take you to the airport and then are fast tracked through emigration and security and into the departure lounge. Your luggage is transported direct from the ship and the next time you see it is on the baggage carousel at your home airport. P&O have this procedure well organised. To round off the cruise we flew home on the Dreamliner and it's the best sleep I have ever experienced on an aircraft.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
Although the title may give it away I am going to try & give a fair assessment of our holiday as well as address some of the negative comments a minority of travelers - reviewers seem compelled to make. We have cruised the Caribbean in ... Read More
Although the title may give it away I am going to try & give a fair assessment of our holiday as well as address some of the negative comments a minority of travelers - reviewers seem compelled to make. We have cruised the Caribbean in Feb for the last 6 years as 2 couples on ocean village, Thompson, princess & the last 3 years with P&O Azura & twice on the Ventura. Between the 4 of us we have also sailed with Royal Caribbean, Holland America & even the Island Escape. What some companies lack in catering they make up for in entertainment say & on the more luxurious ships the drinks are expensive & so on but they all have their merits, we have always enjoyed our cruise holiday & since our first one we have taken no other type of vacation. We travelled to manchester on the 12th feb from the northeast & stayed at the raddison for the night before our early morning flight on Friday. I like this hotel, although pricey you can comfortably walk along the skyway to check in, a lot better than shuttle busses. It would be nice to have more Newcastle flights though. We were on the Thomas Cook flight in the premium cabin which was fine, good seats, free drinks & good movies. After the 8 hour flight 40mins later we were at the Barbados port check in, 1/2 an hour after that we were on board enjoying a beer at Breakers Bar having dropped our hand luggage at our immaculate cabin. There really is nothing to complain about with this process & don't forget you check you're luggage in at departure & then it is at the state room on the ship, on what other type of holiday would that happen? With our flight being on the 1st day of the 2 day check in we spent our 1st days holiday on the beach at sandy lane in glorious sunshine while the rest of the flights checked in (these holiday makers have their day in Barbados on the return) Moving on quickly to the 1st sea day on Ventura which is where the next area of cotroversy arises, the sun bed saga! Yes young families like to have the beds next to the kids' pool so there' up earl,y other people like shade, others have their preferences, one thing for sure you're never going to get a lounger of you're choice wandering the decks at 10-30 am after a leisurely breakfast! We've never had a problem getting 4 beds together so honestly nothing to moan about here. I have to admit that just for a change we booked the retreat this time at £350 per couple for the trip & made good use of it & we perhaps trimmed a bit off our usual on board spend to justify that, you will all have worked out by now that we don't fill empty bottles at the water stations or smuggle gin & vodka back on board in water bottles, some people still do! Moving onto the islands in general & addressing what to do on shore days, you either go it alone, stay on the ship or have a P&O organized trip, the latter is mentioned in various reviews as being overly expensive, however everybody we have spoken to about their trips results in positivity, we've always enjoyed the rare organized trips we have been on. The alternative to this is a tour or journey by local taxi services, dependent on the wealth of the island in question the trip can be a 'hairy' ride in a van that wouldn't pass an M O T test in this country, to an ok ride in a mini bus, the choice is yours. Basically you get what you pay for. Food on this floating 5 star hotel attracts various forms of comment, all I can say is, every boat I have been on from so called 3 star to 5 has been in my opinion of a very high standard, putting a very high percentage of onshore establishments too total shame, the Ventura is no exception, this trip we enjoyed freedom dining in the cinnamon restaurant for dinner, also the glass house & white room, great service & meals, the buffets on deck 15 more than adequate, I find the whole dining logistics for 3,000 guests totally fascinating, how people can find fault with any of this is staggering. I have to say at this point that as 2 couples we are proud to each have up & coming young chefs as sons, both have worked in Michelin star kitchens & this year one made the final stages of professional master chef, take my word for it, the catering is just fine! We enjoyed the entertainment on board, good comedian Paul Eastwood, the ventriloquist Gareth Oliver, magician & Tom O'Connor ( a bit past it but hey, it's only an hour out of your evening!) In general, life on board the ventura is all you would want for a great vacation, predominantly British tourists from all walks of life, a good mix of young couples, families, teenagers, middle aged & elderly all getting along with one another, this trip I thought was especially sociable, all the bars busy & bustling just ideal, again some people can find fault with this, reading other reviews about 'undesirables' & paying more to avoid this, come on! There is no doubt that when chatting to some 'seasoned' cruisers you get the impression of missing the old days, ways & traditions, but times & passengers have changed thankfully, plus the fact the modern ships are bigger, better equipped & cope with the rigures of the oceans far better, (stabilizers, thrusters etc.) No matter which modern day ship you are on you would never know you were in the company of 3, 5 or now even 7,000 passengers. I have to say the final sail away from St Maartin was classic Brit nostalgia, moored next to the gigantic Oasis of the Seas, the entertainment crew did an amazing job as we sailed off, fab. Yet previous reviewers compare this to Butlins, honestly! Personally I have to say you will never see more of the world other than by cruising, I couldn't spend 2 weeks on any Caribbean island, a day is enough. We would never have been able to go to all the amazing capital cities of Europe if we had not done it by cruise ship, so all in all a most marvelous way to holiday & is it so wrong that it is becoming more available to more & more people? Of course not, you can't go wrong with this type of vacation, give it a go you won't regret it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
Starting with the chartered flight from Gatwick. Boarding very painless, fairly quick and no delays. Plane ok, seats don't recline, which is fine for a daytime flight, but not good on an overnight home with no sleep and having to ... Read More
Starting with the chartered flight from Gatwick. Boarding very painless, fairly quick and no delays. Plane ok, seats don't recline, which is fine for a daytime flight, but not good on an overnight home with no sleep and having to drive 4 hours when you land! Only a very limited choice of free films, the rest you have to pay for £4, which if you are on a Thompson or BA flight are free. Drinks also charged for, food disgusting. Normally i can tolerate airline food, this was the worst ever and i'm not a fussy eater! Boarding at Barbados was chaotic. Standing in a line for half an hour in a boiling hot warehouse shed waiting to get our seacards. More check in stations needed at busy times. Once on board everything was fine, cabin ready and nice and clean. The ship was already very busy and the signs at reception said there were no upgrades available as the ship was full. The library is very small all the popular books had already been checked out, luckilly i took a couple with me, there were no book swaps available either. We had been allocated freedom dining, but a quick visit to the restaurant manager soon changed it to second dining in the MDR. First night we did the deck buffet, food was very nice with a good choice, but unfortunately a bit cold. We had an early night due to the travelling which was when we discovered that cabin E205 (outside) is right above the theatre, and you could hear everything. This is fine if you don't want an early night any time during the cruise, as the last show is 10.30 and finishes at 11.30pm. A visit to reception the next day was successful as they changed us to a cabin further down the corridor which was nice and quiet E410. The only problem was that someone was coming into that cabin on the Friday and we left on the Saturday so would have to go back to our original cabin, this was not a problem for us. Entertainment was very good, the headliners theatre company are very professional and would give a west end show a good run for their money! Tom O'Conner was guest comedian, not our cup of tea but very good. Had to get to the theatre early to get a seat, unfortunately people who had been to first sitting and seen the show earlier also went again for the second show which didn't leave a lot of seats for those coming out of second sitting around 10.15. Food was very good, perhaps not as much choice as there has been in the past, but very tasty and enough choice for us. We didn't pay for any of the optional dining places, I didn't see the point when we had already paid for food. We also ate in the Waterfront Buffet some evenings, this was fairly quiet and the choices were very good, we had a tandori, seafood and asian nights. Entertainment staff were good fun, the sailaway parties were enjoyable and they made an event out of them. The excursions were fairly pricey, we did most ports on our own for a fraction of the cost, everywhere was easy to get around, but the two we did through the ship were very good, these were a snorklelling trip in St Martin and the Farewell to Barbados on the last day which dropped us off at the airport. Again another long wait to leave the airport. We had a slight issue on the last Thursday when we went to swap back to our original cabin, they had out someone in it, so we moved to deck 12, unfortunately it was an inside and we didnt realise till 11.30pm when we went to bed! So back to reception next day where the staff once again were very helpful and moved us to a balcony for the last night, so I have 4 cabin reviews to do! Overall, personally i prefer Royal Caribbean, but would not rule out another cruise on Ventura. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
Flight with Thomson much improved on past experience with the Deamliner and a great flight crew. We flew premium economy which is worth every penny especially with the extra luggage allowance. We were a little concerned about the cruise ... Read More
Flight with Thomson much improved on past experience with the Deamliner and a great flight crew. We flew premium economy which is worth every penny especially with the extra luggage allowance. We were a little concerned about the cruise given some pretty adverse reviews we had read with references to things not being as good as they used to be. We cruised on the Ventura 3 years ago and had a great time. We were not disappointed this time either! We had a fabulous break. We did have a fabulous suite that gave us access to the White Room for a very civilised breakfast with staff tuning into our preference for decaf coffee and hot milk by day two. Every staff member we met, even those cleaning the glass panels on the stairs were friendly and always smiling. I do think that those who report staff as being unhelpful or unfriendly should do a bit of self reflection to see if it is their demeanour that prompts that behaviour. Food on the first evening in the Bay Tree restaurant was poor but thankfully from night two menus provided lots of choice, portion sizes were fine and quality on the whole pretty good. Our waiters Christopher and Amit were keen to serve us well and Christopher provided each lady with a rose made from a napkin as a gift. Of the few downsides the sun lounger problem has yet to be cracked by P&O. People reserved sun beds from 6am and then did not appear to use them for hours. On sea days this meant all beds gone by 9.30.am. Not good. P&0 do need to police this as I fear they may loose custom as a result. It was the one constant negative we heard when chatting with others who generally had no other adverse comments about the cruise. The Metroplis is a lovely venue for a quiet drink and the duo who were the regular guests artists added an extra dimension to this venue since our last cruise on the Ventura. The Ventura provides the opportunity for a variety of holidays within one ship. You can have a sun based holiday , eat masses all day via the Buffets, hit the pub and karaoke or have a balcony cabin to help avoid the sun bed issue, a more formal dining experience in the Bay Tree and select dining restaurants , entertainment in the Arena and quiet drinks in the Metroplis or Red Bar. Something for everyone. We were impressed with the facilities for the children who seemed to have a great time away from the adults as much as possible! The night nursery was a godsend for some young parents we chatted too. We are booked on a world cruise with P & 0 so that should provide some reassurance to those reading negative reviews which we feel are a little unfair. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We have just returned from cruising with Ventura and it has been the best one ever, done 9 before, first with P&O, but this one was amazing. Flights with Thompson Dreamliner were good, only flew economy but the leg room was good. ... Read More
We have just returned from cruising with Ventura and it has been the best one ever, done 9 before, first with P&O, but this one was amazing. Flights with Thompson Dreamliner were good, only flew economy but the leg room was good. Flight attendants were superb and couldnt do enough to make the journey comfortable. Check in on embarkations was quick and painless. We visited Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts, St Maarten, Tortola, Curacao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. The food was excellent, served hot and with fabulous waiters. Drinks on board were reasonable but they do let you purchase alcohol from their shops to drink in your cabin and do not take shore purchases to be returned on disembarkation, not like any other cruise company we have sailed with before. Entertainment was first class, had two tribute singers, Robbie Williams and Freddy Mercury, fabulous comedians and Opera boys (like Il Divo) were exceptional. Headliners, ships dance troupe were really talented along with the singers. The speaker David Prebus was one of the most interested speakers I have ever listened to, we actually had the pleasure of having dinner with him My only compaint was trying to fit it all in :-( Well done MV Ventura, captain Charlie Carr all the staff on board. Anyone reading this, do yourself a favour and book, we cant wait to come back Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
Great cruise , the transfer after arrival at Barbados Airport was perfect as we went from the plane straight on to buses parked on the Tarmac and a 40 minute journey to the ship. Once off the bus we went into a large shed at the port and ... Read More
Great cruise , the transfer after arrival at Barbados Airport was perfect as we went from the plane straight on to buses parked on the Tarmac and a 40 minute journey to the ship. Once off the bus we went into a large shed at the port and had a photo taken ,credit card details done and passports checked , all very efficient and reasonably quick. We then boarded the ship and made our way to our cabin after our boarding picture was taken. The cabin was good and clean , bed was comfortable and we had a balcony which was a good size. Food and entertainment were very good and shows were well worth going to every evening.Wine in the restuarant was approx £15 a bottle and bar prices were very reasonable with no surcharge on them , so prices cheaper than most city centre bars. All ports were interesting and trips available at good rates when purchased from local tours, which gave you plenty of time to enjoy and to return to the ship. On day of departure we were out of cabin for 9 am but hand luggage is stored for you in the Arena theatre ,allowing you to go in to Barbados for a few hours before returning to ship for your Airport transfer . All in all any negative reviews I read did not match my experience except I would prefer less smoking areas on board. Also tips per person per day are £3.95 which is very reasonable compared to other cruise lines , so all things taken into consideration I would certainly cruise with P & O again . Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We booked our cruise 2 months ago so did not have a choice of cabins but our Riviera deck 14 balcony cabin was just what we wanted so we had no complaints there. We were near the forward stairs and lifts but never heard any noise from ... Read More
We booked our cruise 2 months ago so did not have a choice of cabins but our Riviera deck 14 balcony cabin was just what we wanted so we had no complaints there. We were near the forward stairs and lifts but never heard any noise from adjoining cabins or corridors. We flew on a new Thomas Cook plane which has wider seats and much more leg room and was very comfortable on the outward journey but as the seats don't recline it was difficult to sleep on the return. You also have to pay for all your drinks apart from tea, coffee and squash, and the TV films are limited unless you pay for a film upgrade. The films are the same for the return journey too so make sure you save something to watch on the return home. Embarkation was quick and easy and we were on the ship in minutes. The entertainment on the ship was the usual production shows plus cabaret entertainers. We've seen all the shows and some of the entertainers so many times we feel we are word perfect. Why can't the shows be changed more often or each ship have their own shows? We saw all of them on the Arcadia last year. and on other ships. If P&O are going to keep employing the same comedians they should at least insist that they change their jokes. It's very lazy to keep using the same material. Even the crossword puzzles in the library were the same as the Arcadia. We were on Freedom dining and usually ate at 6.30pm so never had any problem getting a table of our choice. We never saw any queues at any time. We always managed to get a sunbed by the Beachcomber pool if there by 9am but the open decks were crowded and the sunbeds laid out like sardines. Although there were quite a few children on board we never found this a problem and enjoyed the age range of the passengers. Although we've cruised with P&O many times we feel we'd like a change of entertainment, new menus, would like to feel that a cruise is special not just a run of the mill holiday so think we might have to look at other cruise lines in future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was ... Read More
My family consist of my husband and myself , two boys ages nearly 10 & 17 and my father. We had an effortless flight from Manchester to Barbados. I must say I dislike having to pay for soft drinks on such a long flight. Food was edible enough. On arrival at Barbados we were promptly escorted on to a A/C bus and driven to the cruise terminal. this usually takes about 45Mins, our driver decided to take the back roads and we arrived within 20 mins. Check in at the cruise terminal is my only bug bear, there must be a simplier system and I feel all passengers should be offered refreshments whilst we wait in line. especially after such a long journey. I really hate been asked to have a photo taken as we board the ship for the first time.! Who wants a picture taken after travelling so long. As we had been on Ventura several times before, we were able to locate our cabins very quickly. Cabins were clean and tidy and adequate foe all our needs A202,A206 balcony cabins deck 12. Cabin boy quickly introduced himself. we noticed our beds had been set up incorrectly, this was mentioned and was sorted upon our return several hours later. Cases arrived very quickly. Within an hour of arriving my youngest was ready to sign up to the Kids clubs. I was happy to be advised that the 9-12 yrs now had to be signed in and out { this wasnt the case previous years and i was a little dubious) I for one would not want my nearly 10 yr old wandering out around the boat whenever he felt he wanted to. I wasnt really impressed with the stickers attached to our cruise cards as they allowed only us to pick up our child. My older son is nearly 17 and I would have like to have been able to send him to pick up the younger one on the odd occasion. As usual the kids club staff were fantastic, i struggle to get my son to spend time with us on the cruise as he loves kids club so much. These staff do a brilliant job with them. I get a little fed up with some reviewers moaning about kids splashing in the pool and wandering around the ship. My kids are very well behaved and in all honesty never saw any unruly kids, but it's there holiday too its a xmas cruise, if you don't like kids dont' go on a family friendly ship. There are plenty of adult only cruises to choose from. I wasn't impressed with the pool attendants this year , they were like the naughty police and really were not needed. They just spoilt the fun for everyone. We had Freedom dining, got a table everytime. Food was adequate but not great. Enjoyed all of the specialised eateries, The white room, east and the glass house. I was disappointed that a surcharge had been added to eat at the beach hut. A little too greedy P & O. The way passengers have to queue to be allocated at table for Christmas day and new years eve, is disgusting. I personally queued for 2.5 hours, other up to 4 hours. The have immigration to a tee why can't they do the same for the tables for special days ???? Entertainment was ok. Really enjoyed Paul Eastwood the comedian and Robbie Williams tribute. A little disappointed with everything else. There is so much talent out there, why are P & O not finding it. We had excursions from the ship but we also did some of our own trips, all thoroughly enjoyed. Enjoyed all the Islands. My only other complaint is the films on the interactive TV, Jaws is over 20 years old we should'nt have to be paying for films at all after what we pay for the cruise in the first place. We are booked to go on the Xmas cruise on Brittannia I hope P & O are taking notes of everyone's concerns as certain things do need revampling. Other than a few hiccups we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this cruise. I certainly would rather be on the lively Ventura than the boring block of high rise flats docked at the side of us on St Maarten.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and ... Read More
Having cruised twice before in the Med with Thomson and having enjoyed my experience thoroughly as a special treat I decided to book a surprise cruise to the carribean for my wife's 50th Birthday. We booked a week prior to travel and flew out from Manchester T1 early on the 6/12/2014. The chartered flights with Thomas Cook airlines went very smoothly, good quality food and service and the fact that this was chartered by P&O which meant we loaded the cases in Manchester and then didn't touch them again until they arrived at our cabin door on the ship made the flying experience really great. We arrived in Barbados to gorgeous warm sunshine and where then off loaded by P&O directly onto the transfer coach and taken directly to the port, no hassle with customs etc. on arrival at the ship we then went through a short process to take our photographs, present our credit card and be issued with our boarding cards. Again this was very swift and professional. The ship as an awesome site, biggest that we have been on. The cabin allocation again was swift but we did encounter a problem in the cabin with the set out of sleeping arrangements, we had requested a double room but where allocated a twin and unfortunately this couldn't be changed to a double due to the configuration of the lamps attached to the bedside tables, this was the main weak area of the service we received as INfeltvthat P&O didn't do enough to rectify the fault.. The facilities on board are great, choice of 4 swimming pools, plenty of sun beds, great waiter service, brilliant gym, sauna, spa and plenty of places where you could escape and relax. Food on board was good, plenty of choice and most of it served 24/7. We also used the Beech House for a small surcharge which was good, the MarconPierre and Athol Cuutcher restaraunts also seemed nice. We had early dining in the Bay Tree restaraunt at 6:30 which we found too early. Service again was outstanding but portions where a little small. Evening entertainment was good, we did the theatre after dinner then onto an internal bar such as Havanah, Tamarind or Metropolis and finish off the night with a few drinks on deck. The Headliners theatre company who performed in the theatre are a must to see, as is a comedian by the name of John Martin. Beer pric scare not bad but be aware that some of the bars do not serve draft beer, only from cans or bottles. We did feel that entertainment on board overall wasn't as good in some areas as on the Thomson ships. We where also a little disappointed by the formal evenings which didn't seem to be a celebration of a special event unlike the Thomson ships. The ship overall is neat and tidy, consistently cleaned, quite spacious and modern. The ports we visited on our Itinerary where good although some are up and coming ports which do need further development, the nicest places where St Maarten, Tortola, Curaçao, Bonaire and of course Barbados. I do still struggle to understand why the ships sail so early ( 5pm ) from some ports when the next port is only a short distance, we would have loved to stay ashore at places like St Marrten and Curaçao to get a taste of the nightlife. Same withnthe 2 days at sea on the return journey to Barbados, we could've called at one more stop on the way. All of the islands accept the US dollar but be aware that a couple of places have their own dollar so some change could be given in this currency which can only be spent on that Island. In Barbados also most prices are quoted in Barbados dollars to which there are 2 to every US dollar, make sure you ask when buying something or quoting a price for a taxi. You also need to try the flying fish in Barbados, yummy. The people in the Carribean can't do enough for you, very friendly and eager to help. Taxis are positioned at each port as well as numerous tours etc which are priced reasonably, the Beaches are stunning, the water is just as you imagine in a brochure and the climate is a steady 27 to 28 day and night, the humidity takes a bit of getting used too as does the 4 hour time difference.. Overall our first experience with P&O was good although we did feel that it could have been better, we do love the Carribean and will re visit. We would recommend P&O cruises to others and will be cruising again with them   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Once again a great pre xmas break. A good Dreamliner flight out from Manchester, very easy transfer to the ship, bags arrived in no time. We were given cabin C518 with the extended balcony, couldn't fault the cabin , the location or ... Read More
Once again a great pre xmas break. A good Dreamliner flight out from Manchester, very easy transfer to the ship, bags arrived in no time. We were given cabin C518 with the extended balcony, couldn't fault the cabin , the location or our steward Merton. 9 islands visited with only Dominica not impressing. Bonaire was particularly good with the snorkelling and diving a must for the active. The food on the ship has improved from last year. The entertainment was good from the majority of the acts, Clem Cutis was superb, but the on board P&O team were poor and appeared disinterested. The great British Sail Away, which should be a feature of any cruise, was a big disappointment with the P&O entertainment team mumbling and miming there way through most of the songs. The tales of not being able to get sunbeds are untrue it's just that some people want to congregate in the same area, the ship is vast and there are always beds to be had if you move away from the popular areas. That said there are still the selfish people who snag the beds with their towels not to return for hours. P&O have to address this issue or stop pretending there are rules. Overall great value for money, a good crowd onboard, roll on next year. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were ... Read More
This was our 4th festive cruise on Ventura around the Caribbean islands. The usual efficient P&O system of dealing with flights and luggage soon had us in the holiday mood. This time we were on a Dreamliner from Manchester. We were happy with our balcony cabin on B deck and this was kept immaculate by our Steward Edward. Overall this was one of the best cruises we have done with wall to wall sunshine for the whole trip. We thought the quality and quantity of the food and also the quality of service had improved since the previous Christmas and also the standard of dress of the passengers was very high. Many ladies and girls opted for long dresses or cocktail wear even on the non-formal nights. Also on formal nights there were more men in evening dress than previously. So we were well happy. In the evenings we drank mainly in the Glasshouse or Tamarind. Prices seem to have held since the previous year both for drinks and meals in the speciality restaurants although they have introduced a cover charge for the Beach House restaurant in the evenings. This clearly had the effect of reducing the once mandatory queuing to zero and on the evening we ate there, hardly any other diners. The one blot on the proceedings was the requirement to queue to reserve your dining times for Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. I was near the front of the queue and it still took 1.5 hours for me to be seen to. Some people were queuing for up to 4.5 hours. This is appalling and P&O need to find another way of addressing this matter for example by using Cruise Personaliser. Like many others we will not be on Ventura for Christmas 2015 as we will all be on the Britannia. All in all an excellent cruise on the home from home Ventura . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time ... Read More
We had a wonderful first cruise, with P&O on the Ventura, to the Caribbean. The cabin was wonderful (D327, Superior Cabin with Balcony), the food good and plentiful, and the cleanliness superb. We scheduled our trip to be during a time when there wouldn't be many children (whom we love, but we needed some quiet time), and there were only a few onboard. The staff was very friendly and helpful, responding so positively to all our requests that we felt very pampered. We wish there had been better lectures, particularly about the history (including slavery, trade and social/political developments) of the region. We loved being on the Freedom dining plan, which meant we could dine when we wanted to, without table assignment. All the logistics were great - embarkation and then leaving the ship, luggage transfer, room assignment, etc. And the spa was fantastic! Have as many services as you can, particularly the seaweed wrap and massage and the facials! They will spoil you rotten there, which is a major reason for taking a cruise, no? The entertainment was spotty - we didn't like the comedian's sense of humour in particular, but that's not to discourage anyone. The singers were good as were the orchestra and dancers in the large Arena. Contrary to other reviews, although the ship was full, we didn't find any problem with locating sun beds to lie on. We wish we could have danced more in the Atrium, but it seemed to be allocated to structured dances for those who took lessons onboard. We also wish the Black Tie evenings were made more special than by just putting on fancy clothes. In sum, we had a great time with only minor things we would have changed if we ruled the world! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room ... Read More
I have just returned from a P&O Christmas Cruise of the Caribbean, and also read a review by KevinML who appears to have cruised the same. I would concur with much of his comments but disagree with others. Briefly, the dining room staff, as always, were excellent; the only problems I witnessed were rude guests who treat these hard working people very poorly. Dinner, I agree, now appears to be of a lower standard. Plate service rather than silver service. Portions are smaller, no doubt to save cost and waste, and they will also serve you more/extra if you so request. No one goes hungry on a cruise! Formal nights: for me 4 is not enough, I would do formal nearly every night. The number of formal/casual nights are disclosed well in advance and can be found on your own cruise personaliser Smoking: ban it, as simple as that. The smoking "area" I observed got larger everyday as the mobile chesty coffers simply moved the ash trays to different tabels. By the end of the cruise the "side area" had expanded to half way across the deck. Ban Smoking, full stop. Prior to my first cruise many years ago, I saw this event as a holiday for the elite. How wrong and naïve was I ? This latest cruise reflected it all the more. There were hundreds of "undesirables" aboard. But, that is a result of economies of scale. When a ship so large is put into service, it needs bums on seats, and so must charge a low enough cost to do so. You get what you pay for. If you want exclusivity you must pay for it. We have paid more than double the cost of this cruise in the past, and got the quality we expected. Entertainment: poor. Venues: they were good enough. Christmas Santa: P&O cant be blamed for the late shower, it was a bit of a shame but a good time was still had by all none the less. You can get rain at any time anywhere in the Caribbean. Islands: all great, but get a little repetitive. Tortola tenders, a bit of an inconvenience, but no major issue. Next time we will have the luxury of a brand new port. Tortola is a great island, lots to see and great beaches, why miss it? Many people criticised Dominica: what a shame it's a fantastic island with much to see and do. Just walking around the market was an eye opener and great entertainment in itself, and it was free!!! Flights: again you get what you pay for, on a chartered flight. If you want better service fly direct! If you must have a specific seat on a plane then you have to pay for that pleasure/luxury. This is 2015. If the cost of booking a seat was included in the initial price, ie the cost was £90 higher, you wouldn't bat an eye lid. My biggest gripe is the noise in the cabin. As with KevinML, I have experienced D level standard cabins previously, and again I got what I paid for, no complaints there. This time we had a suite. The benefits and luxury was fantastic, but it was noisy beyond belief. Never again. DO NOT GET A SUITE MIDSHIPS ON LEVEL 14. NOISE 24/7. That is not an exaggeration. Tips: well that is the same old chest nut, do you don't you. If you cancel the automatic deduction, my understanding is, the waiters and cabin staff who look after you miss out on a chunk from the "main pot". So you MUST tip them. Secondly, the automatic rate now charged is far more realistic than it once was and acceptable. Third: what is needed is for everyone to opt out of the American disease of tipping everything that moves. If no one tipped, which is used to supplement poor paid workers, then the cruise liners would be forced to pay a decent wage to these hard working people. Of course, then the cost of the cruise would increase. heyHo! That's it, great cruise, great ship, if somewhat too big, great holiday but extremely noisy suites. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ... Read More
i agree with most things the last reviewer wrote, apart from the two hour wait to get on board we were on within 30 minutes, cabin kept spotless thank you Vincent,food first class and entertainment excellent, didn't see the ventriloquist but was told it was rubbish, must see the 4tunes outstanding. As for the black tie nights sometimes we felt over dressed, on the black and white night the supposed most formal, allot of ladies were wearing colourful dresses.this is by no means a posh cruise so ordinary people wouldn't feel out of place, this was what we were concerned about, but what i will say you did get a few pompous people ie in the metropolis bar, but don't let that put you off going in there its great, but you did get some on the other end of the scale to. we booked very early, being novices we thought we would get a good deal, but soon found out this was not the case, you had people booking still six months ahead and getting better prices and also more spending money, ( a lesson learnt). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2014
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and ... Read More
We went on the Ventura on 8th November, there were 8 people in our party, one of which were wheelchair bound. Some of us had cruised before (Carnival Valor and Thomson Destiny) but the majority of the party were cruise virgins. Myself and the other half went on Carnival last year for our honeymoon which we thoroughly enjoyed so we were excited to cruise again and to see how a different company compared. My top tip would be to book as late as possible, we booked 16 months in advance thinking we were getting a good deal but it was reduced by around £500 per passenger around 6 weeks before departure which was sickening. STAFF The majority of the staff on the ship were Indian which we didn’t expect, I knew there would be some different ethnicities but 95% were Asian males. The majority were friendly with the odd exception. From certain members of staff we received fantastic service, in the restaurants and bars to the salon staff. Credit to P&O. (Joel Manning Head waiter, Melissa on bar, Gracey the bar steward, Krystina the croupier). DINING Breakfast was nice, buffet style was always plentiful and cooked nicely. Formal breakfast was nice too but toast was always cold. Lunch we missed most days but made it back for the afternoon which doesn’t really make sense to me, I would have preferred a ham/chicken salad at 4pm when you have had a day lazing by the beach rather than pie/curry, sandwiches and scones. Staff were less than forthcoming when we asked for a salad which is unfortunate considering the amount of money we handed over. Our evening seating time was 8.30pm which we chose as we thought 6.30pm was too early but due to the amount of people in our party we would struggle to make it to the 10.30 show so we changed to freedom dining in the second week which we wished we had done sooner. Freedom dining is the way forward. Food was average to very good in the main restaurant, there was a starter, soup, main, dessert and cheeseboard every night. We dined in the “surcharge” restaurants after a few days as the food was starting to get slightly repetitive in the main restaurant. East was £15 each but if you book while on board they offer a bottle of house wine between two on certain nights, effectively bringing the price down to £7.50 each. Same with the White Room which we paid £25 each for, with a bottle of wine between two we thought it was well worth it. The only restaurant (excluding the buffet) were you can dine outdoor which was fantastic. Beach House (daytime buffet restaurant which converts in to sit down restaurant of an evening) was £5 per person and you had the option to upgrade from there, ie. If you wanted king prawns to start you would need to pay an extra £1.50 and if you wanted steak on a stone it was an extra £2.95 but the food was very nice. Drinks were not too expensive, glass of wine approx £4 for small and £5.50 for large, spirit and mixer around £5 and cocktails from around a fiver. Range of wines available, bottles of house went down well at £14.95. Selection of diet drinks available which was a massive plus, diet coke, 7up free and diet Tango all available. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES Gym had good machines but very little free classes. It opened at 8am until 8pm which was a bit awkward as we were awake at 6.30pm some days which we would have normally shot up to the gym ready to get off the boat once docked at 8am. This was very strict as there are cabins below the gym. Only way of getting in before this was to do a stretch and relax class at 7.30am which didn’t look like it would be worth walking to the lifts for, looked more like lie down and sleep. Shame they charged £7 odd for the spinning class too and there weren’t more aerobic classes available for free. Other than that it was fine, lots of equipment, busy in the morning with everybody standing at the front doors at 8am ready to get their preferred machine. Pools were fine though were majorly busy are what I would imagine a typical Benidorm holiday would be like, definitely wasn’t what we expected. At 5pm they would do a sail away party were the entertainment staff would come out and do sing along and arm waving that was fit for a 10 year olds party. We weren’t pleased but the other 2000 passengers seemed happy with it! (Bah humbugs!). Some days there were ice sculpting which was interesting, deck BBQs and as I said some parties when departing the island. Evening entertainment was fantastic thanks to the Headliners Theatre Group, such amazing singers and dancers who kept us entertained with 4 different shows while on-board. There were also two comedians, a Tom Jones and Gary Barlow tribute and a fantastic 4 piece Michael Buble style band who were amazing too. SHORE EXCURSIONS If there is something that you really want to do, ie whale watching/boat trips/river rafting, I would recommend booking through P&O as these wont be available to book on the day. For beach trips and island tours it was massively cheaper to book on arrival at the port. There are many street vendors over 50% cheaper than P&O. DISABLED FRIENDLY The disabled friendly room was fab. It was a great size and had excellent facilities throughout, the shower room was the same size as our cabin, the mother in law was made up! Getting on and off the ship was easy enough too as there would be a steward to help out at every port. The only port she was unable to get off was Tortola as we had to use a tender from the boat to the port. She didn’t miss much to say the least! All in all the cruise was fab, I would recommend P&O for both families and couples as there was something for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 ... Read More
We have just returned on the Ventura going round the Caribbean. After reading previous reviews before we went we were a bit apprehensive, but there was no need to worry, we do not understand where these reviews came from. Have been on 4 previous cruises with Thomsons which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Didn't fancy paying the gratuities, which we didn't. If you go to reception they will give you a form to fill in and you just say that you do not want to pay the £3.50p each per day and that you would tip yourself where you thought it was necessary which we did. Our cabin steward was excellent, very friendly and approachable, kept the cabin spotlessly clean. We had an outside obstructed view on the 8th floor which was very nice. We found all the staff very pleasant, we spoke to quite a few different people who were different age groups on the cruise and everyone we spoke to were enjoying it, the only thing they did not like was the different prices people had paid. We paid £1,079 each for the 2 weeks where somebody else had paid £1,799 for a inside cabin. Somebody else who was in a balcony had paid £3,000 each and they found out that someone who had the same cabin as them had only paid £1,400 each, such a big difference in price. We found the breakfast excellent, also the afternoon teas were excellent. The evening meal was not as good not as much to choose from. You never got ice cream for any puddings which we found very strange, if you wanted an ice cream you had to pay for them. Some of the entertainment was very good, we saw two very good comedians, and a mind reader. The dances in the Headliners were also very good. Some of the other entertainment was not to our liking it was based more for older people, but I suppose you cannot please everyone's taste. The excursions were very expensive we did our own thing when we got off the ship. There are lots of taxis, and open sided buses to go on which work out a lot cheaper. We did two open sided bus trips which took three and a half hours for 20 dollars each, and one of them gave you complimentary drinks all the time, and even took us to a beach and left us there for one hour, and came back later to pick us up. Do not worry about getting back to the ship on time they will always ask you what time does your ship leave, and they will get you back on time, don't worry. The only other thing I will say that previous people had written about which we found to be true is you have to get up early on the day's that you are at sea to get a sun lounger, and some people put the towels on their beds and don't come back for a long time. Next to where we were laid the towels were on when we got there, so we do not know how long they had been there, and they did not return for three hours later. We would definitely go with P&O again but we are a bit limited because we only like fly cruises we wouldn't want to go from Southampton, and as they only go to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean starting this year so we have not got much choice. Looking forward to seeing you again sometime P&O Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to ... Read More
I am surprised when I read reviews of cruises by certain P&O passengers, some of which seem to be excessively hypercritical, compared to those by people who have cruised with Celebrity, most of which are gushing with praise. I have to say that in my opinion P&O are far superior in many respects to Celebrity and indeed most other large cruise lines and I will set out my reasons for saying so in this review. My partner Barbara and I have cruised with P&O on twelve occasions, most recently earlier this month in the Caribbean on Ventura. We have also travelled on Celebrity’s Equinox and Eclipse in recent years as well as on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s sister company, Princess and Cunard. Whilst I realise that a lot of people will have been on even more cruises than we have, nevertheless I think that my breadth of experience of cruising with several different companies enables me to provide an informed, and I hope reasonably objective, opinion on their relative merits. Most of the modern ships built for the large cruise companies I mentioned are broadly similar in structure and design and are very well fitted out and equipped to cater to the demands of today’s discerning cruise clientele. All of the above companies have launched several brand new ships in recent years and this trend seems set to continue .Where the differences arise is in the details of the overall product and service offered to passengers and this is the area in which I believe P&O have the edge. First, Celebrity’s new Solstice class ships are generally very impressive in their design and decor, but, unlike P&O’s ships, they do not have a proper promenade deck for passengers to walk around and sit on. Promenade decks have always been a traditional and stylish feature of ocean liners and cruise ships and add to the glamour of cruising in my opinion. Instead, Celebrity have a short jogging track on one of the upper decks on their new ships, but this is a poor substitute. Secondly, the entertainment on Celebrity’s ships is nowhere near as good or as extensive as that provided by P&O. On our cruises on the Equinox and Eclipse there were only three full production shows by the ship’s resident theatre company in two weeks as opposed to the seven regularly performed by P&O’s Headliners theatre company during the same length of cruise. Moreover there was only one show per night on Celebrity {obviously repeated for each of the two formal dinner sittings} varying between the production show and other cabaret artists, whereas on P&O there are three or four different shows every evening, again repeated for each of the dinner sittings. The shows performed by the Headliners on P&O are superb and are of real West End quality. In fact, most of the artists in the company have actual experience of appearing in the West End and/or on television. By comparison, Celebrity’s shows and those of the other cruise lines we have seen were of average quality. Even the production and technical aspects of the P&O shows are better. For example, on one occasion on Cunard, one of the few shows scheduled had to be cancelled because one of the lead singers had a sore throat. If this happens on P&O they have back-up recordings of all the singers so that they can mime to these and the show can go on as normal. Admittedly, Celebrity do have various musicians and bands performing live each evening around the ship as well ,but so do P&O. This last comment brings me to another criticism I have of Celebrity. Every evening in the atrium there was very loud blaring music played. The design of the new Solstice class ships is for the whole of the centre of the ship, from the bottom of the atrium up to the top decks even up to the library, to be open, which is visually very impressive ,but this means that it is difficult if not impossible to relax or carry on a conversation in any of the bars and lounges around the various decks in the centre of the ship. Even upon request they will not lower the volume. Apart from the evening entertainment in the theatres and lounges, P&O also have a lot of quizzes every day during the cruise which are very popular and which I personally enjoy very much. They also have guest speakers throughout the cruise, dancing classes , craft classes etc. I know that the other cruise companies have some of these features , but not as many and they are not as well organised. Another issue is the price of drinks on ships .On Celebrity, as is the case with most of the American cruise lines , {including unfortunately these days Cunard as well on whose ships Carnival ,their American owners, have chosen the US dollar as the on board currency}, prices are comparable to what you would pay in expensive hotels, but they also add on an automatic 15% service charge and they then rub salt in the wound by leaving a note and space at the foot of the bill for an additional gratuity. We are not big drinkers, but I know that all of this annoys many passengers. P&O by contrast charge what can be described as reasonable pub prices for drinks and they do not add any service charge.{ P&O’s general service charge for the cruise overall is also set at a much more reasonable level than Celebrity’s}. Furthermore P&O will let passengers bring on to the ship bottles of wine and spirits purchased ashore to drink in their cabins, whereas Celebrity and Royal Caribbean and I believe most of the other cruise lines will confiscate these and do not return them until the end of the cruise, presumably so that passengers will carry on paying their exorbitant prices for drinks on board. One simple area where P&O provide a thoughtful touch is in providing tea and coffee making facilities in your cabin so that you can have a hot drink whenever it suits you. Celebrity will of course like most cruise lines bring you such drinks via room service free of charge, but this can take some time and the drinks when they arrive are never as hot or fresh as if you had made them yourself. P&O also provide room service, but they know that passengers like to have the option to make their own hot drinks when they want them. Celebrity have now introduced kettles and tea and coffee on their cruises from the UK, but not elsewhere in the world. P&O also provide free launderettes with ironing facilities on each deck on board all their ships so that passengers can wash, iron and press clothes if they wish to, which is very helpful on fly cruises where there are flight luggage restrictions so that passengers who have kept their clothes to a minimum can do a wash half way through the cruise. Celebrity do not do this, and so passengers have to pay their laundry or pressing charges. Another area where P&O excel is in their service in getting passengers to the Caribbean in the winter months where their two large ships Azura and Ventura are stationed. They organize dedicated charter flights from several UK airports which fly straight to Barbados. The process of getting from the plane to the ship is seamless. You do not have to go through any formalities at the airport in Barbados. Instead, you are whisked from the plane straight on to a coach to the ship and you are usually on board and in your cabin within an hour. You do not have to collect your luggage from the airport since this is delivered direct to your cabin. Contrast this with all the other cruise lines where you have to fly, often indirectly, to Florida, go through all the hassle of American immigration, retrieve your own luggage, stay in a hotel overnight and then finally transfer to the ship the next day. There is no comparison. The quality and variety of the food provided by all of the major cruise lines are broadly similar, but most of them now have specialist a la carte restaurants in addition to the main dining rooms and buffet restaurants, which offer menus prepared by, or restaurants named after, famous chefs. These specialist restaurants have a separate cover charge, but again we have found that the American cruise lines generally charge more than P&O, who again offer better value. To be fair there are certain features on the other cruise lines which P&O do not have. For example, on Celebrity, the lawn club areas with real grass on the top deck, on Cunard the very traditional afternoon tea dances, on Royal Caribbean the ice dancing rink and ice shows and on Princess the mini golf putting course. However, the preponderance of areas where P&O excel and are superior to the others is telling. These various matters when considered together do in my opinion make a big difference and I think go quite some way in explaining why I think P&O, while far from being without fault, are still nevertheless the best cruise company to travel with. As with a lot of cruise companies, regular passengers have noticed certain areas where they have cut back on some details and services to save costs ,but this is probably as a result of the competitive pricing they have had to adopt to market and sell the cruises given today’s economic climate .However, I think that they still offer the best overall cruise experience. The combination of formal and informal themed evenings on their cruises is just right and their sailaway parties are the best. I know that they are owned by Carnival, like Princess, Cunard and some other brands, but to their credit Carnival seem intent on maintaining P&O’s unique and traditionally British style of cruising. I am looking forward to travelling on P&O’s new superliner Britannia next year which promises to raise the bar for standards still further. To summarise, I do hope that people who have cruised with P&O and who sometimes like to have a little moan, as we all do from time to time, will reflect on the issues I have raised and realise that P&O are not so bad after all. If you are reading this as a regular traveller with Celebrity or another cruise line, then why not give P&O a try.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we ... Read More
When myself and Husband and two friends had booked our cruise with the fantastic "Getaway" price, but remember this was non - refundable - I think some disgruntled cruisers may forget or not know this - so you do take a risk. we were concerned about the negative reviews, I now wonder if they were all on a different ship to us. we had wonderfully clean, bright cabins with a balcony, champagne, chocolates, flowers and of course the gown and slippers and excellent toiletries The White Company. Pleasant and helpful cabin girl, who could not do enough and remarkably never forgot our names. We, all four, must have been guests from heaven for her, not messy, untidy or demanding, respectful of her culture and human sacrifice of being away from her family for many months and years, we noted many cabins with doors open and "jumble sales" going on inside!! Unless you are with children or a smoker, the main pools are to be avoided like the plague. Noisy, with loud music. Hence the need for your own balcony, if this is not your idea of a good time, for some it is, I just wish they were on a different cruise.  That is my only complaint, except the lack of sunbeds, when at sea. The food was really good, our waiters charming and chatty, and friendly when on other duties during the daytime and you saw them, two lovely boys. Breakfast in the main restaurant is a very nice start to the day, lunch or high tea in the self service area after a day on shore "perfect" The evening entertainment was more than adequate for our different tastes, we particularly enjoyed the Kenny Rogers impersonator and the Tamarind Bar, the shows in the theatre were most enjoyable. Finally walking around the deck late in the evening with the warm Caribbean breeze "wonderful " The islands are a delight, take the tours waiting at the cruise terminal, much cheaper and they are the people who need the money. In all a wonderful, cruise, which will be repeated. I have cruised before with Royal Caribbean and much prefer P&O. Barbados airport was a complete nightmare, no organization, our plane The Dreamliner, on the way out was a perfect flight, plenty of leg room, most comfortable seats I have ever had on a flight. In Barbados it was grounded for some reason, so, our boarding passes issued on board the ship (good idea) where all incorrect and had to be re issued with different seats, even when, as we had, booked and paid for seatin g of our choice. This was not broadcast over the tanoy, no one walked the queue explaining the problem and re issuing - nightmare. The cabin crew were dreadful, rude, unhelpful, we are still waiting for coffee/tea with our breakfast. They were missing for the first 1 1/2 hours of the flight. But the cruise readers, was fabulous.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled ... Read More
We booked this cruise last time we were on board in April last year to maximise our on board credit. This was a fly cruise and the flight with Thomas Cook airlines was the worst part of our holiday, we will seriously consider scheduled flights if we do the trip again. There were obvious queues to check in in a less than luxurious shed but you were offered water while you waited. Once check in was complete we boarded the ship and went in search of our cabin. I was so excited because two weeks prior to departure I had had an email from P & O offering us an upgrade to a suite for an additional £250 per person. This seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity so we took it and were given the Penthouse Suite on the back of the ship. It was amazing, so much space, a butler and the opportunity to have breakfast in the White Room each morning. If you ever get the chance to upgrade I would highly recommend it. The crew as always were friendly, polite, courteous and eager to please. We ate in the Bay Tree each night and the food was always good if not excellent. Lunch was usually eaten in Saffron and again was good or excellent. We ate one evening in the White Room and the food was delicious, I was so full I could hardly manage a pudding. I'm not sure it was worth £25 each but the experience of eating under the stars was great. We used the buffet a couple of times, usually when we had missed lunch and the quality was good and plenty of hand gel in evidence. Pizza was a naughty treat occaisonally as was afternoon tea. We enjoyed pre-dinner drinks in the Metropolis most nights, although sometimes it was hard to get served if they were very busy, this was also the case in the Red Bar. We thought that staff numbers had probably been cut since our last trip. The Glasshouse seemed to lack atmosphere whereas when it was Las Ramblas we thought it had a definite buzz in it but maybe that was to do with the different show times. Shows are not really for us although we did go to one which was fine and we saw Tom O'Connor too. My husband when to a few talks from the guest speaker. In an effort to burn off some calories we visited the gym several times and as usual there were pieces of equipment out of action. One of the rowing machines only required a new battery in the display but despite mentioning this on the first day, two weeks later it was still out of action. We had an excellent holiday once again and would highly recommend this trip to anyone.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly ... Read More
Just returned from a lovely relaxing fortnight in the sun. Ventura was as we remembered from a previous Med cruise 2 and a half years ago, no better and no worse. If you travel on this ship you will get good( not gastro) food, friendly staff who do a super job of looking after you (in the allocated time) and do their very best to make the mediocre feel special, cabins with good storage and comfy beds(not deep cleaned for the OCD brigade but reasonably clean)with nicely fitted bathrooms, but most of all (unless you are one of the uptight brigade with truly unreasonable expectations) you will get to relax and be spoilt for a very realistic price. Ventura is not a ship for the picky but if you like down to earth good fun (not yobbishness) this is the place to find it. We didn`t use all the facilities during our fortnight but I will give a brief resume of those we did. Room service. We used this for breakfast every morning and for occasional afternoon snacks and drinks.Nice food (I agree about the toast, it could be better),pleasant service and speedy delivery. cinnamon restaurant on freedom dining dinner. Made friends with the maître de asap and secured a nice table for 2 in our preferred area. Had generally lovely food and ate far too much most nights. The waiting staff were brilliant, simply could not have done more to keep us happy. Found a nice dry white at £13.95 a bottle !! and thoroughly enjoyed every evening. Theatre Headline theatre company were superb and The Opera Boys fantastic. We saw 5 shows and enjoyed them all. Havana caberet bar. We didn`t think much to the 2 tribute acts we saw here, Cliff Richard and Tom Jones but wer`e not fans of either of these artists so maybe our judgement was coloured by this. It was also difficult to get seats where you could see unless you were willing to spend half the night there hogging seats. Waterside buffet. Only used once because we are not keen on buffets but the fish and chips we had were not bad. Beach house (evening restaurant) We used this once and had super food and great service. If we hadn`t enjoyed Cinnamon so much we probably would have come here more. Lovely menu. Shore excursions. In our opinion, overpriced and poor value. My partner went on the ATV trip in St Lucia and said it was OK but was annoyed that P&O wouldn`t let him take me as a pillion only to discover people on the trip who had booked through other means and were carrying pillions. Shops Not a huge problem to us but overpriced and poorly stocked. More reasonably priced resort wear and particularly T Shirts and kids present ideas and we`d have spent a lot more. Breakaway bar (deck 16 ) Lovely place to while away an hour or 2 in the sun with a long cool drink. Spa. Had a good cut and blow dry for £45 (a tadge steep) but the price of other packages even on special offer put us off. The grill on deck 15. Num num, lovely cheeseburgers fish gougons and fries. Naughty naughty (diet needed now). Ports of call. We enjoyed most but weren`t keen on Bonaire. We should have done more independent beach visits as we had a great time in grenada and Barbados swimming in the sea and relaxing on the sand. In conclusion we found everything in this cruise that we needed and more. It would be easy to pick a few faults but why waste our hard earned holiday doing that?. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared ... Read More
Pre-Cruise (6/10) I had a little time booked off work, so was essentially trying to find a cruise that fit the budget and the time allowed. I had previously cruised with Princess only, so that was my first preference, but nothing appeared to be very good value that was departing during the time I had off. I stumbled across the P&O getaway fare and when you factored in that flights were included, it was a deal that was really too good to pass up. We booked directly with P&O via their website and the flight booking element was more trial and error as it offered flights from all our first choice airports first, then announced they weren’t available. In fact the only option was economy from Gatwick. But in a few minutes it was booked, although somehow it managed to associate the booking with my old email address I had registered with Princess cruises, so it didn't send me any confirmation. That said, it did put the cruise in my history with Princess that counts towards my loyalty level, but the history wasn’t transferable the other way, so I was a proper P&O newbie. Although my traveling companion had been slowly moving up the P&O loyalty scale, so this meant some decent onboard discounts. Flights and Transfers (8/10) As the flight departed at 09:10 from an airport 3 hours away from home, we opted to stay at the airport the night before. I got a decent deal at the Holiday Inn, close the the north terminal for about £90 which included the room, 15 night’s parking and a transfer to the airport. Although the same transfer bus also served the best western and Travelodge Gatwick Central, both of which would have been slightly better options as the Holiday Inn wasn’t partially special and the food and drink were expensive. When we arrived at the airport, the check in process was P&O cruises branded, which was a nice touch and we filled in our health declaration forms before even getting to the counter. Although the queue moved slowly having just 2 people operate a check-in for a full flight. They were also pretty tight on the luggage allowance (at 23kg each), with a hand baggage allowance roughly the size of a holiday novel. Thankfully the luggage scales we used seem fairly accurate and thanks to some last minute case swapping we were both under. Just. The people in front of us experienced that horrible re-pack at check in, which is probably one of the most humiliating and stressful experiences a traveller can undergo. I also booked lounge access at the airport, which was a bit of a waste of money as the BA Galleries Lounge it wasn’t. Very basic buffet breakfast with the option to order ONE hot item each, which was tasty but about 1/4 of the size it needed to be to be satisfying. We kind of got the best option with the choice of aircraft as we were booked on the Thompson Dreamliner; although advance seat reservation was expensive at £15 for a basic seat and £35+ for an exit row seat (and you had to book both ways, whether you wanted it or not), it did make sense as the plane was a 3-3-3 configuration and a pair of travellers were likely to be separated across an aisle. The seats were pretty roomy, and probably the best experience i’ve had in the “back of a plane” with decent touch screen entertainment and food that really wasn’t that bad. Drinks (apart from a cup of tea with the meal) were extra. They did stop the inflight entertainment about 40 minutes before landing to make you watch promotional videos for P&O trips you might want to buy, which was a little annoying. They could have also perhaps done with saying that once you land there would be no toilet opportunities for at least an hour after touching down.. rather than telling you this as you were about to go down the steps. Within a few minutes and organisation that verged more on the side of luck than judgement we were aboard a small bus with plastic seats and no air conditioning for the 40 minute ride to the ship. This was followed by a relatively smooth check in process where we also had to complete the same health forms that we’d done 9 hours previously at Gatwick. In all from landing to getting in the cabin is was about an hour and a half; plus we didn’t have to go through any luggage or immigration formalities. Cabin and Ship (9/10) As I mentioned previously, I’ve always sailed with Princess, who use the same design of ships. Therefore I was pretty comfortable with the layout of where most things were and what to expect. The ship was actually much prettier from a design point of view than the Princess version, and the cabin was exactly the same save for different carpets, curtains, bedding, pictures on the wall and lamps. The only real noticeable difference was the british sockets and a proper kettle; both of which were appreciated. The cabin never once felt claustrophobic and the balcony was a decent size, having a bit of extra space which was offset by the fact that it was high and forward with a solid rail wall rather than the glass of 98% of the other balconies. The rest of the ship was pretty much as per the Princess design, aside from nicer decor and better zoning of some of the outside areas. The only thing that didn’t really work for me was the layout at the bottom of the atrium, which on Princess is a more heavily used space thanks to the free 24 hour food available in the international cafe. Although the P&O version has more seats, the coffee was expensive and the food wasn’t much of a draw. So although the atrium looked pretty, it was pretty much a waste of space other than for 20 minutes sessions of dancing in the evening. The ship was in good to excellent condition, only a few signs of age, but largely it was a pleasing place to be. The ship also held its own whenever in port by being one of the better looking ships around. Food and Drink (7/10) Food is always a subjective matter, but it really wasn’t bad. In fact some of the dishes were very good, nothing was ever breathtaking bad and only a few items of disappointments. We ate in the buffet most days for breakfast and the choices were the same every single day. A little variety wouldn’t have killed them, that said the food was fine and fairly tasty. For lunch it was either the pool side eating areas, or the buffet or a combination of both. The buffet had a little more variety at lunch time, and the vegetable Paella was very good (although the same dish made 3 other appearances described as something else at various points, it was good nevertheless). The burgers from the grill were tasty, the pizzas were a little ‘meh’. One thing that did bug me about the buffet was the labelling. Although they had a sign on to say what was on each counter, it was often a little bit of guess work trying to establish which dish was which. While not particularly important if you are not fussy, if you are trying to keep to a particular dietary requirement, it makes unnecessarily hard work of it. The food in the main restaurant also wasn’t bad. The most disappointing dish was the prime rib, which was about 1/3 of the size of that served by Princess with about a quarter of the taste. There was also only ever one meat free main course available, which meant it was either that or nothing. One night the entire veggie selection looked pretty boring, but I ordered it anyway and it turned out to be one of the most nicely balanced dishes I’ve ever eaten. One night we also opted for the White Room at £25 per person. Although making a booking made it sound like they were doing you a favour by fitting you in, the place was less than half full. We did get a table on the outside deck for the evening, which was lovely. The food was OK, but probably not quite £50’s worth, save for a rather nice basket of bread. Drinks were reasonably priced, considering their location; mostly on a par with with what you would pay in a restaurant or bar at home; and when you factored in the 8% loyalty discount, it made for much better value beverages than on other cruise lines where you have to mentally add 15% to the price of everything you’ve just ordered. Room service was fine and easy to order through the clunky and slow interactive TV system. Although some dishes were free, some had a charge and there didn’t seem to be any logical connection between the cost of the dish and whether it was free or not. We also did Glasshouse for the lunchtime tapas which was pretty good. Finally we tried East for a lunch special of £7.50 each, which was probably the best all round meal had on board as the food was good and had decent service; which is something that couldn’t be said for the majority of food and drink experiences… Service 3/10 This is where P&O need to do some serious work. First the positives, the room steward was excellent, and probably one of the better ones I have had. He was like a hawk and always said good morning / afternoon and always knew when you were away from your cabin whether or not you put the service tag out. The bad bits were pretty much everything else. The reception desk was about as welcoming as the enclave to the Wicked Witch of the West and it apparently it was my fault that the bar code on my cruise card wasn’t printed properly and the fact that the other card didn’t open the cabin door. In the restaurant things were worse. The first night not even a hello from the waiting staff; we have to ask for bread. And menus. And for someone to take a drinks order (who eventually did so just as we started the mains). The second night it took until the dessert course arriving for them to get the wine saved from the previous night and then the wine waiter actually stood and augured with us as we’d had the cheek to eat in deck 5 restaurant rather than deck 6 the night before. I could stand this no-longer so had a quiet word with both the wine manager and the restaurant manager who were apologetic. After this we were seated more quickly and only in a specific section where the staff were better (no doubt the corner reserved for the complainers). On deck the drinks staff weren’t much better. It was often an issue getting someone to take your order (ironically the worse service was where there was less passengers around, where the few staff that were working didn’t really seem to care either way). Often the drinks would take an age, particularly if you were ordering expensive soft drinks from your pepsi card and even then service was hardly with a smile. I also found it irritating that you couldn’t just get something directly from a bar and all interactions had to be with 2 people. Perhaps because the people pouring the drinks were even less polite than the waiting staff, with rarely even a please or thank you. Likewise if you asked for anything slightly different, the answer was never yes. It was always a problem or something they needed to “check on”. Ironically decent service is one of the few things you would expect on a cruise ship to be a no-brainer, it does’t cost much to do and creates a good impression. They do have a similar CRUISE motivational customer service programme aboard P&O (the same as with Princess) but it seemed little more than a corporate slogan that staff didn’t care about and weren’t engaged with. To be honest, had it not been for the room steward, I would have given service a 1/10 rating. Simply not good enough. Ports of Call I’m not even going to give this section a rating, as unless you happen to be booked on exactly the same cruise as we went on, then it’s not going to be much help. I’ve never particularly liked the Caribbean and I still don’t. Although for warm, winter sunshine with comfortable temperatures in January you probably can’t get much better. That said, special mention to Grand Turk, which does away with most of the things I find less agreeable about the islands (no aggressive hawkers), with a fanatic cruise terminal right on the beach. The terminal is also complete with a large pool and beach sun loungers that are free to use, but supported by the fact that drinks are very expensive. However, in terms of cruise terminals I’ve been to worldwide, this was the best of the lot; without question. Disembarkation 8/10 Again P&O have really got this whole fly cruise thing sorted. The operation seems to run with almost military precision where they check you in for your return flight and handle your case all the way from your cabin to destination airport. This does create a few issues. Firstly if you are due to disembark on the second day of the turnaround, you still have to get up early on your second to last day to go clear the immigration at Barbados. Although the process was quick, it still involved getting up at 7am to do so; which had we know about we wouldn’t have bothered booking a tour that day so we could have done the clearance at our leisure. The second issue is that you need to pop all your stuff outside the night before you get off, so this means that any remaining liquids you need for the overnight and the next day need to fly with you in your hand luggage, so have to be under 100ml. As it happens we sacrificed a deodorant can and a tube of tooth paste on the last day, both being too big to fly, but both needed for the last day on board. Not much on an inconvenience, but next time I would bring small sized liquids especially for the last day. What was nice is that you remain on board until your flight is called; so for us we departed the cabin at 09:00 and were able to make most of an additional day until we disembarked at 2pm. They then bussed us straight to the airport where all we had to do was clear security. You couldn’t really get much smoother or straight forward. In Summary 8/10 If I had to use two words to sum up the whole experience, it would be “great value”. For what we paid we got a very good product, nice ship, nice food, smooth transfers and decent 2 weeks away in the winter sun. Would I book again? Yes probably, if the price was right. Although I don’t think I’d ever be rushing to book at the full price with P&O. The only thing that left a taste in the mouth was the service, or lack of. I think it is all the more annoying as it’s something that can be fixed with little cost, it just needs some proper passion instilling in the staff. I don’t like to leave review on a bad note, because the experience was good. But it should have been brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson Dreamliner flights were probably the most comfortable economy class flights we have had. The transfer was quick and easy. I was impressed with the infection control procedures, just a shame all passengers didn't follow them. Our cabin was small but well appointed, tea and coffee, a fridge with daily ice provided by our excellent steward and a very comfy bed. There was not much to watch on the TV. Lots of towels and you could take the blue ones ashore to use at the beach. All the staff were attentive. I was impressed with how quickly the tables were cleared. There was never any sign of litter and I only saw one fly in a fortnight! The food in the Beach house restaurant at night was our favourite. The freedom dining option was flexible, meaning that we could pick our entertainment and then fit dinner in to suit our itinerary. There was plenty of choice of entertainment and food venues. The drinks were not overpriced and the service charge was reasonable. The Sailaway parties were not my cup of tea, but you didn't have to go far to find a quiet spot to sit and watch the land disappear and the sunset. On sea days the decks are packed with sunbeds, some people had two each, one in the sun on in the shade, perhaps P&O need to employ a sunbed policeman. In conclusion two weeks in the Caribbean for £71.43 per person per night, including flights, can't be beaten. Two tips don't buy the bottled water, the tap water is fine. Do your own thing when ashore, it's cheaper.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our third time on Ventura - all voyages over Christmas and NewYear in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados. The flight from Manchester was good and on time and we thought there had been an improvement in the food on the plane. The ... Read More
This was our third time on Ventura - all voyages over Christmas and NewYear in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados. The flight from Manchester was good and on time and we thought there had been an improvement in the food on the plane. The usual efficient P&O service at Barbados meant that we were soon on the ship. We had booked a cabin on A deck at the back which was exactly where we wanted to be but a few days before leaving home we found out by chance that P&O had upgraded us to D deck very near the front. The cabin was a superior deluxe balcony cabin which was very comfortable for us two but I would imagine it could be a bit claustrophobic if there were three people in it. There was a bath with shower over. The shower head was fixed so my husband at 6 ft tall found it a bit low for him. Tons of hot water and huge bath towels. Good quality shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. The worst thing about the cabin was the balcony which is useless if it is raining as there is no overhead cover so you cannot sit out (as you can on all other balconies) and watch the rain!! Yes the balcony is overlooked by those above but this did not really bother us. The cabin was kept tidy by Veron, our stewardess although the grouting around the bath under the shower head could have done with a clean. Also the net curtain at the sliding door leading to the balcony had seen better days and was in shreds at one end. We had some nice touches - the best being a little Christmas cake - proper fruit one, with marzipan, icing and a snowman on the top!! The cabin was in a very quiet area. No noise from either outside or above. But for us, it just was not in a convenient location. Still I suppose all the walking from one end of the ship to the other could have shed some calories!! We were freedom dining. The food in the MDR varied from very good to barely OK. Of course everything comes plated up which does not add to the enjoyment of your meal. Someone said that P&O had gone away from silver service for vegetables to plated up meals in response to customer demand - are they having a laugh?? We ate once in the White Room and once in East both of which were excellent. We also did a taster menu in the Glasshouse which I thought a bit overpriced. We also ate once in the evening in the Beach House which was as good as we remembered it on previous trips. Otherwise we had breakfast in the Beach House and I had some lunch in the Waterside. We drank mainly in the Glasshouse and the staff in there were excellent. Indeed it was difficult to criticise the staff anywhere except for those on duty at the gangway who could be a bit more human and welcoming. We were more than happy with the drinks prices. Of course there is no 15% added to each bill unlike most other cruise ships there days. One tip - a cocktail costs less than a large glass of some wines. We are not show people but reviews I heard from fellow guests suggested that the performances were very good. Instead we "people watched" from outside the Tamarind club. New Year's Eve was brilliant on deck. Everyone was beautifully dressed. In fact we thought the standard of dress thought the cruise in the evenings had gone up and we did not see many in scruffy jeans and trainers. Apart from the day in Dominica where it rained all day, we had brilliant weather throughout. We lost one day at sea as the Captain informed us all that a passenger needed urgent specialist hospital treatment and therefore we would be sailing full steam ahead for Barbados. In fact he shaved a whole 24 hours off the journey. So we had an extra day in Barbados. The flight home was again on time and very quick as we were benefitting from the gales across the Atlantic. We really enjoyed our holiday and have already booked the same ship for the same time in 2014. This time we have a cabin at the stern end and have not elected to accept any upgrade so we know where we will be. So it is Good old Ventura once again for Christmas and New Year. Read Less
Ventura Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.9

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