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Sail Date: December 2013
I have been on an excellent two week Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Ventura with P&O Cruises. P&O Cruises Ventura is 116,000 tonnes first entered service in 2008 and was refurbished in 2013. The ship has a capacity of 3,078 ... Read More
I have been on an excellent two week Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Ventura with P&O Cruises. P&O Cruises Ventura is 116,000 tonnes first entered service in 2008 and was refurbished in 2013. The ship has a capacity of 3,078 passengers with 1,205 crew. In the refurbishment The Ramblas has been replaced by The Glass House by Olly Smith. The two week Caribbean Cruise visited the ports of St Vincent, Dominica, St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts, Grand Turk, Tortola, St Maarten and Barbados. Embarkation The embarkation process was smooth and efficient. At Barbados airport a coach was waiting to take you straight to the ship and you luggage was taken from the plane to your ship and into your cabin. This is the most impressive embarkation on to a cruise ship with a long haul flight I have every experienced. Usually after a long haul flight you have to queue at Passport Control for half an hour to an hour before collecting your luggage to take to a transfer coach or taxi. Ports St Vincent It rained when we were there. Not much to see at Kingstown the capital of St Vincent as it is not set up for cruise ships. If the weather is good I would recommend an excursion to Mustique. Dominica The capital is Roseau where the ship docks. I went for a walk from the ship to the capital. The capital was full of tourist shops but the streets had some open sewers and were very smelly. There was a lot of poverty in Roseau and I was approached by several beggars. St Lucia I went zip lining which was excellent with eight runs. Ideal if you are looking for something different. For first timers I would recommend the Land and Seat Tour of the island. Castries the capital of the island of St Lucia is excellent for shopping. Antigua In Antigua I went to the Coconut Grove Beach which is a picture postcard Caribbean Beach. Antigua is famous for it's beaches with one for every day of the year so in Antigua it would be rude not to go to the beach. For history buffs and culture vultures P&O Cruises offered an island tour. The ship docks in St Johns right in the heart of the Capital. It is a good town for shopping and felt like one the safest islands in the Caribbean. St Kitts The ships docks in Basseterre the capital of St Kitts and has excellent shopping facilities. I took an excursion on the train around St Kitts running on the line that was used to transport sugar cane. Sugar Cane production was stopped in 2004 after it became unprofitable. The train takes you in the heart of St Kitts to give you a feel for the island. Grand Turk The ship docks in a purpose built pier and terminal at the south of the island. Grand Turk is a small island with salt ponds and white coral sand beaches. The beaches here are some of the best in the Caribbean. Grand Turk feels like the Bahamas but with warmer weather. Grand Turk is an island paradise. Tortola The ship docks at the edge of Road Town the capital of Tortola and the British Virgin Islands. Road Town is very small with a few basic amenities a few tourist shops. I went on an excursion to Virgin Gorda and to Devils Bay beach. The beach at Devils Bay is one of the best in the world and is how I would imagine a beach in the Seychelles. The beach at Devils Bay was one of the highlights of the cruise and my only disappointment with the P&O Cruises excursion is that we got 45 minutes at the beach, when 2 - 3 hours would have been better. We caught the 12:30pm ferry back from Virgin Gorda to Tortola whereas a ferry at 2.30pm - 3.30pm would have been much better. St Maarten The ship docks at Phillipsburg, St Maarten which is one of the best capital cities in the Caribbean. The duty free shopping in Phillipsburg, St Maarten is amazing with extremely low prices on tobacco products and alcohol. If you are going to buy duty free loose tobacco, cigarettes or alcohol Phillipsburg, St Maarten is the place to buy it. It did a snorkeling excursion by catamaran which was excellent and they kept the rum punch flowing. In the Caribbean Rum Punch is the national drink similar to Vodka in Russia and Pints of Beer in Britain. Barbados The ship docks at the industrial port at the edge of Bridgetown, Barbados. As Barbados is a former British Island they are very welcoming to British tourists. Although the currency they prefer is US Dollars not British Pounds. I would recommend the US Dollar as the currency to take to the Caribbean Islands. I did an excursion to swim with Turtles which is great, snorkeling over a shipwreck with lots of fish and coral in Carlisle Bay and then off to a beach for a while. Dining I opted for Club Dining on the Ventura and chose second sitting at 8:30pm on a table for 10 in the excellent Baytree Restaurant. The decor was classic P&O with dark browns and badges. The service from our two waiters was superb and when you made a special request they would get you what you wanted if it was possible to do so. There were three formal nights when you had to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo for men or an evening gown for ladies and eleven smart casual nights. The dress code was strictly enforced. For breakfast I went to the Waterside Buffet which had a superb choice of cereals, fresh fruits, yoghurts and a full English Breakfast as well. There was also an area for Omlette's. The only downside was that there were no hash browns but fried potatoes were available. For those that prefer Waiter Service the Saffron Restaurant was available from 7.00am - 9.00am every morning. For lunch I usually dined at the Waterside Buffet which had a good choice of hot and cold food. Everything needed for a salad was available. If you prefer something hot there was usually a choice of two meats and vegtables, Fish Pies, Lasagne, Mousaka, rice and occasionally Curries. For lunch if you didn't want to go to the Waterside Buffet Hot Dogs and Burgers were available at Frankies Grill. Pizza's and Ice Cream at Frankies Pizzeria. The Cinnamon Restaurant was open from 12:00pm - 1:30pm for those that prefer Waiter Service. The Select Dining Venues are the White Room Marco Pierre's Restaurant and Atul Kochhars East. The White Room is a five star restaurant which charges £25pp for an enhanced menu. The White Room offers dining similar to the Celebrity Chef restaurants in London at a fraction of the price. The equivalent Gordon Ramsay London Restaurant meals start at £80pp. East is the Asian Fusion Restaurant designed by Atul Kochhar and charges £15pp. I didn't dine at these restaurants but fellow passengers on my table did and they were impressed with the quality of food in the White Room and the variety on offer in East. I also dined at the Beach House which is a section of the Waterside Buffet which offers Waiter Service at night. The service in the Beach House was good but not as personal as that received in the Baytree Restaurant. The quality of food in the Beach House was as good as the Baytree Restaurant. Drinks The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have seen on a cruise ship. They were much lower than Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises. Plus they don't charge a 15% tip on every drinks purchase. The drinks service on board the ship was very good with attentive waiters. You could get pints of beer in the Exchange and watch the football if you wanted to. This area was particularly popular on sea days. The price of a pint of beer was less than a small bottle of 330ml on Royal Caribbean. With Royal Caribbean for the price of one small bottle of beer you get two bottles of beer with P&O Cruises when you add the 15% gratuity to the bill with Royal Caribbean. A pint of beer costs £4.75 at the exchange bottles ranged from about £3.50 - £4.50. Spirit mixer drinks were good value at under £4. There are lots of venues to drink on board Ventura. The night club Havana was a popular place to drink after midnight as it was the last place going late at night. Metropolis on Deck 16 at the rear of the ship has a video wall with a different city a night and was a popular spot for a drink and music with a live band. They also had good value wine packages, coke packages and ice cream packages which you could buy on the ship. If you like drinking lots of wine, coke or eat lots of ice cream I would recommend purchasing a package on board the ship. Entertainment I watched most of the 10:30pm in the superb two deck Arena Theatre. The theatre was grand without being ostentatious, understated in a rather British way. The singing and dancing shows by the Headliners were great and the best I have seen on a Cruise Ship. The Comedian Mark Walker was very good and his impressions of Billy Connolly and Liam Gallagher were spot on. He could be the new Alistair McGowan. I was impressed that after the second sitting there was a show in the Arena Theatre at 10:30pm every night. Whereas on some other Cruise Lines the Show is a 7:15pm before the Second Sitting. This is particularly annoying on formal and black tie nights when you have to get dressed up for dinner. From 11:30pm there was always a singer at the Tamarind Club on Deck 7. Although the singer was always singing music from the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. The ships nightclub the Cuban Themed Havana was a popular for dancing after midnight. From 10:30pm comedians, singers and quizzes often took place at Havana. Disembarkation The disembarkation process was very efficient by P&O Cruises. I disembarked on a Saturday and you had to fill out a form and complete the process at 7:00am on Friday morning. On Saturday morning you had to disembark your cabin by 9:00am and you were allowed to stay on the ship until 1:00pm when the coach left for the airport. Between 9:00am and 1:00pm the Arena Theatre was used to leave your luggage so you didn't have to carry it around. Gripes You had to pay for the Mr Whippy Ice Cream onboard the ship at Frankies Pizzeria. On other cruise ships I have been on Mr Whippy Ice Cream is included in the price and a self service machine is provided in the Buffet Restaurant. The Hot Dogs and Burgers at Frankies Grill were located so you would buy a drink with if from one of the bars nearby. On other ships the Hot Dogs and Burgers were available in the Buffet Restaurant. Tazzine the ships Coffee Shop located on Deck 5 only had items available for purchase. If you wanted a large biscuit or a cup cake you had to purchase a branded coffee or branded tea. On other cruise ships opposite the Coffee Shop there was a self service tea and coffee machine and you could get large biscuit of a cup cake for free. The title of the menu's in the Baytree Restaurant were in French. P&O Cruises caters mainly for British Passengers whose first language and often only language is English. If I cruised on a French Ship I would be surprised if the menu was in English. American ships have menu's in English, Italian Ships in Italian why P&O Cruises didn't have menu's in English I don't know. Nearly every night I had to ask the waiter to explain the menu as it was in French and get an English translation. Some nights the Menu might as well have been in Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Mandarin Chinese or Swahili. An example was Sachertorte, I did not have the foggiest what this was. The waiter told me it was Chocolate Cake. Why P&O could have called it Chocolate Cake to make it easier to understand I just don't know. A lot of the excursion were only for 3 - 4 hours and left at 8:00am - 9:00am in the morning leaving you with the rest of the afternoon to find something to do. Summary The P&O Cruises Ship Ventura is one of the best ships I have ever been on along with Royal Caribbean's Liberty Of The Seas. The Superior Deluxe Balcony Cabin was superb and is the best cabin I have ever had on a cruise ship. The facilities on board the ship are excellent and you will never be bored on Ventura. The drinks on Ventura are the lowest prices I have ever seen on a cruise ship. The entertainment was the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Both the dancers, singers and comedians were superb. It is certainly geared up well for British Passengers. I was impressed with P&O Cruises that there was no old fashioned bingo advertised or Mr & Mrs quiz that takes place on Royal Caribbean, NCL, Costa and MSC Cruises. Plus there was minimal selling of art, the casino, drinks, excursions, shopping, etc which can drive you mad on cruise ships. The soft sell of P&O Cruises is appreciated by its passengers unlike the hard sell that you get on other cruise lines. The Caribbean is the best place in the world to go cruising as the islands are set up perfectly for cruise ships.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of ... Read More
Our Christmas and New Year cruise was brilliant and we have recommended the cruise to friends and family. I have no links or allegiance to P&O although it is the only cruise line that we have experienced. We are a family of 'foodies' who like the occasional glass of wine and I think we are representative of most working families in the UK. With regards to the food, which appears to be a common thread for some complaints, I think that there are a multitude of options available to suit everybody at lunchtime. Yes, there is always a curry, or two, but these are extremely popular with most passengers and are on the menu because of customer demand. Alternatives are the extremely popular and good quality salad bar, a range of cheeses and biscuits as well as fresh bread buns, a BBQ grill, pizzeria and silver service dining. The silver service restaurants on an evening offer two menus; a 'classic menu' which contains old favourites such as prawn cocktail, tomato soup and other options to start with, followed by a salmon dish, steak or chicken. In addition there was a menu of the day which changed daily. We ate venison, guinea fowl, goose and a good range of fish dishes. Not once did we have a poor meal. The meals on Christmas night and New Years Eve were excellent. I genuinely fail to see how people are disappointed with the food. Our only misgiving is the fact that P&O have introduced the concept of pre-plated meals in the dining rooms so your meal comes with the vegetables already on the plate, as does the cheeseboard. This does make the dining experience slightly less special as it isn't conducive to 'fine dining'. We always sat on deck 7 beside the Beachcomber pool and there were always plenty of staff from whom to order drinks. There were always a high number of drinks staff on duty on the poolside and in the bars and restaurants. There was a high number of children and teenagers on the cruise. Some parents clearly had no idea where their offspring were or what they were doing. We did see a rowdy group in the swimming pool but they were stopped by an officer within a few minutes. We did see groups of teenagers sprawled on the floor in the buffet restaurant on one occasion late at night and commented that they should have been told to sit at a table. On previous cruises we have been aware of youth security officers patrolling the ship whose job it is to monitor groups of youths but we didn't see any on this cruise. That said, I regularly saw youth staff clearing groups of kids away from the stairs and lifts. Overall it is a family cruise during a school holiday and there are always going to be a number of passengers under the age of 18 and the majority were well behaved and polite. There were 12 lifts on board and one was out of service but that left 11 remaining. Having had many conversations with other passengers all but two said that they had had a fabulous time and loved every facet of their cruise (apart from Dominica). The two dissenters gave me the impression that they would have found always something to complain about. The staff were excellent and attentive but not to the point of being obsequious. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ... Read More
This was our first Christmas P&O Caribbean cruise and we were very impressed with the organisation at the airport once we arrived in Barbados on the 20th December. We were taken by minibus directly from the plane to check-in at the ship and this was efficient but a little slow. We were on E deck with a restricted cabin view. Our cabin was comfortable and kept clean by Dennis, our steward. Our overall impression of the Ventura was good, offering excellent entertainment and the entertainment team did their utmost to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves. One of the best nights was the pantomime, it was a great laugh and even the staff enjoyed doing it. Overall the restaurant staff were very friendly and the food quality and menu choices were excellent. Only one little criticism was that the waiters should all be trained in the same way to ensure that the female orders are taken before the male orders and that the food should be served from the side rather than across people. We enjoyed freedom dining as it gave us greater flexibility. We did feel that the price of the professional photographs at £9.95 were rather expensive and unfortunately some of the ones we liked were slightly blurred and not worth the money. We also were happy with the prices of drinks on board and the offer of soda packages and would have welcomed a draft beer package! and it was good to see everything priced in pounds. We returned from Bonaire to Barbados in one day instead of two due to a medical emergency and we do hope that the person involved makes a speedy recovery. We thoroughly enjoyed the combination of ports we visited and since we have returned we have already made a booking for December 2014 on Ventura for the same dates so this proves it was a good holiday and we look forward to meeting up with people from this cruise. Overall a great atmosphere on board for Christmas and New Year with a very Great British sail away from Bonaire. We are both nearing our 60s and were amazed that people have complained about the younger generation being loud and drunk. We feel this comment was not fully justifiable as we only came across a couple of younger drunk people late on New Year's Eve. Considering this was a Christmas cruise we felt the young people should allowed to enojoy themselves and they caused us any problems.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My Review of Ventura Xmas / New Year 2013 Cruise Here is my review of our recent fab cruise. I apologise that its so long……. I’ve put in some headings so you can just skip to those parts you think you might be interested in. A bit ... Read More
My Review of Ventura Xmas / New Year 2013 Cruise Here is my review of our recent fab cruise. I apologise that its so long……. I’ve put in some headings so you can just skip to those parts you think you might be interested in. A bit about us: DH and I are in our 50s, have cruised many times before, but this was our first time on Ventura (have been on Azura twice including xmas/new year cruise in 2011). Our cruises are our stress-busters, and we don’t go in for entertainment or activities – our balcony is the most important part of our cruise along with the eating places! FLIGHTS AND ARRIVAL: We flew from Birmingham on the Saturday and had a pleasant flight. We’d pre-booked our seats and although we were in “cattle class,” there was plenty of leg room and comfy seats on the First Choice plane. They gave out earphones which you had to keep as they weren’t given out again on the return flight. There was a fair selection of films, TV programmes etc available, but apart from the one episode of Dr Who (which I watched again although I’ve seen at least a million times before as I love DR Who!), I stuck to being entertained with my ipod and snoozing. We saw the ship briefly from a distance as we were approaching Barbados, and as we got off at the back of the plane, we were among those on the first bus out. It was brilliant to feel that heat and sun as soon as we hit the tarmac and thoughts of rainy cold home went well out of my mind….now I was definitely on holiday! The driver of our bus and the one behind were having a bit of a “competition” to see who could get to the ship first, as we went different ways but came together (fortunately not literally!) in places where there was a dual carriageway! You could almost smell the testosterone! Arrival at the “shed” was well organized and although there was a big queue when we arrived, it went down quickly and we were soon on the ship, complete with floral garland around our necks. The flight home was not as good as the one going out. We sat on the plane for ages while it was refueled and left an hour late, but picked up time as we were only 20 mins later than scheduled arriving in Birmingham. Think the plane home (another First Choice) was older that the first one, with what felt like less leg room and poor seats. DH had to physically put my seat back upright as the button would recline the seat but wouldn’t spring it back. I also saw others having the same problem and the staff didn’t particularly look happy in their work. The main meal was the same on the way out and on return (chicken a la king) and there was no choice (except take it or leave it), and you got water / orange juice with breakfast, and tea / coffee with meals included, but all other drinks and snacks were paid for. I had a cup of lukewarm tea for £2.50 (overpriced and not even hot!), so the couple of bottles of pop we bought at the airport saw us through the flights. Love charter flights with no hassle with luggage, and straight off the plane onto a bus in Barbados. Return just as well organized, staying on the ship until transfer to the airport. The luggage is weighed going out (both hold and hand luggage) but not on the return, so no worries about getting all your trinkets and dirty washing home! CABIN: We had chosen our cabin with “no upgrade” which was on C deck mid ship. We specifically wanted the larger balcony on this deck, having been on the Azura and Princess ships which are the same style. Our steward soon appeared to introduce himself and asked if we had any requests. I’d already checked the pillow and duvet (I’m allergic to feather) and these were fine, so apart from ice, we couldn’t think of anything else we needed at this time. Bags arrived a couple of hours after, and muster was in the middle of unpacking. No checking of names at muster though (unlike Celebrity and Princess) which I was surprised about, and I ended up showing a lady how to put her life vest on and off, while DH showed her friend how to do hers! The cabin wasn’t the cleanest we have ever stayed in. As they are in constant use, cleaning is obviously very superficial. I know that the Ventura had a refurb not too long ago, and I assumed that had fitted new carpets, as there were clumps of fluff in the corners and on the edges of the carpet. When I dropped my hair brush and sprawled on the floor under the desk to get it back, I came out from under the desk looking like a duster! I sent DH under the bed to check if there was anything there that shouldn’t be (you’d be surprised what can be found under beds - in the past we’ve found many things including a pair of mens dress shoes and a half opened case full of clothes!), and he came out with a black and white eye mask, totally covered in dust! So much for thorough cleaning! We put up some tinsel to make it a bit more Christmassy, and noticed little bits of tinsel were still on the carpet a week later, so the hoover didn’t get much use in our cabin. The telephone had exposed wires which we reported to the steward but it was never changed. The balcony floor was not particularly clean with bits of stuff over it (maybe it’s the carpet fluff escaping!) and there was an ashtray by the door! We did ask the steward to remove it and he didn’t seem to want to as he said that other guests may need it, but I think the look on my face told him it was better to take it away! I am sorry to say that our steward was a bit ‘hit and miss’ over the 2 weeks, as for example we’d get the biscuits topped up one day but not the tea bags, or sugar and no biscuits the next. He left a glass in the bathroom instead of with the other glass by the kettle, left the fridge open one day, and I had to ask him to change a cup that had a big chip out of it, right where we drink from! We came back from dinner one evening to find a great towel animal on the bed, but it wasn’t until the next morning when I got out of the shower, I realised my towel was sitting on the chair as a dog and I had to grab one of the pool towels from under the sink! We’ve had stewards in the past leave us some fab towel animals, but they’ve never used our towels for these, but they’ve been with “extra” ones. Good job I had a pool towel to hand, as the hand towel wouldn’t have dried much or covered much of my dignity! None of this however impacted on our overall holiday experience, but we’ve had better stewards in the past. There were 3 pictures (canvas type pictures) opposite the bed, which were of person flying a kite in fields, a farmer ploughing a field on his tractor, and a cricketer (not sure whether he was going into bat or had just been LBW’d!). I bet they’d had a “job lot” and lots of other cabins also had the same pictures. I thought they were actually quite nice (especially the kite one), although as they were done looking through a “fish eye” lens, they did make me feel a bit “sea sick” at times. Closer inspection revealed all of the pictures covered in what looked like paint splashes (I know this because I’ve done this before over my stuff when I’ve tried decorating!). Goodness knows how they’d got this paint on them, so if anyone sees them in the future on EBay, it’s worth checking them out for paint splashes before purchasing them, otherwise you may be disappointed! Then I wondered if those in other cabins also had paint splashes on them, but that thought soon went out of my head when I went out to enjoy the sun on the balcony. I was on holiday, so my brain was shutting down! Mattress – I’ve needed a chiropractor on previous Princess ships, but not on the Ventura. The bed was reasonable and at least I didn’t wake up with backache any morning, but I must say that they aren’t a patch on the Celebrity Eclipse mattress, which was the best one I’ve ever had on a cruise. I’d give the Ventura mattress 6.5 / 10 for comfort if I had to rate this one. TV – had a few TV channels, but also had a good interactive service including our on board accounts and a range of episode from TV programmes (I watched both episodes of Dr Who surprisingly!) and films. Some of these were chargeable while most were free. Didn’t watch anything apart from Dr Who though, as it was far too nice outside to be in the cabin. FOOD: Got to get the priorities right – cabin then food. We had freedom dining as we prefer this to being stuck to a set time and prefer a table for two. We were allocated the Cinnamon restaurant for the first 3 days (the info in the cabin said this and then we could go to either of the restaurants after day 3). On the first evening we decided to go to the buffet (as we were almost asleep standing up and felt I may just doze off in the soup in the main restaurant), but when we got there, it was CLOSED! The only thing of offer was a BBQ out on deck, so we got some food from there and went back to the buffet as there were not tables free on deck, and it was much quieter. Not impressed with the BBQ food. The nicest part was the jacket potato, but the meats were only lukewarm and not hot. Oh well, we didn’t need much to eat anyway and went back to the cabin and fell into bed exhausted. I know I’m going back to the Cabin heading here but I’m sure you’ll forgive me. When we got back in the cabin, we noticed there was only one bedside light on (on DH’s side of the bed), which I thought was a bit odd (why would they only put ONE lamp on unless they were on an economy drive?), then we discovered why……the other lamp didn’t work as bulb had blown! The steward must have noticed this, as on all other evenings both lamps were on (which you would expect), so I guess he’d just left it and hoped we wouldn’t notice or he had noticed it and decided he couldn’t get it fixed that night. When we mentioned it to him the next day, he appeared surprised…..but it was fixed the same day. Buffet: Most evenings had a foody “theme” . These were BBQ, Meditteranean, Asian Oriental, Indian, Best of British, Thai, Caribbean, Italian, Mexican, Eastern meditteranean, Tandoori and Country and Western. As we both have a food allergy (and the food theme didn’t really appeal to us anyway), we thought it better to avoid these, especially considering how poor the BBQ had been. The buffet was fine for breakfast and afternoon tea though, although I did notice after a few days that there were NO hard boiled eggs at the salad bar, although they must have had eggs as they were on the “always available” dinner starter as egg mayonnaise! In the desserts cabinets, for half of the cruise there was a list of what these were (with food allergies it was essential that people knew what they are), but on other days there wasn’t a list and you just had to guess by looking at them what they were! Not really wanting to experience the medical centre, I asked the staff what they desserts were, but I wish they had been consistent with the use of the list! The buffet was also CLOSED on Christmas Day evening! Cinnamon Restaurant: Overall a great experience for us. Had a table for two and the first evening we went there we were given a table in the middle of the row of tables for two, with couples either side of us. Anyway, the couples next to us were almost finished and left as we were on our first course. These tables were not filled again until we were almost finished, which was great. Just an observation……I can never understand why people ask for a table for two and then constantly talk to the people at the next tables in the row! If they want to talk to others why not join a bigger table? The second evening we hit the jackpot and got a table for two against the wall in a different part of the room, which was a lot more private and comfortable. One of the waiters we had we recognised from our previous cruise on the Azura (and even better he remembered us!), and we’d had a great experience with him then, so we went back to his section every evening except Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. On these two days, we had had to book a table on the first Sunday (between 7am and 12 noon), as they were only doing 2 sittings – 6.15pm and 8.30pm. Fortunately we were awake early on “booking morning” and decided to go and book and then come back to bed, so we were second in the queue before they opened up. Because of our allergies, we were visited on our first evening in the Cinnamon by the head waiter Abel, who was absolutely fantastic! We ordered with him for the following evening, and towards the end of the cruise, Abel was telling us what he thought we were going to order, and most of the time he got it right! Oh he was so lovely, so pleasant and the evening I didn’t like anything on the starter menu, he said I could have anything from the lunchtime menu if I wanted, and so I did! We also had a great wine waiter. He would appear to top up our glasses like a phantom in the night! He appeared just at the right time and disappeared just as quickly. Couldn’t have been better. I don’t eat fish (apart from prawns) and only eat beef, chicken and turkey (yes I know I’m an awkward so and so), and so I had quite a few steaks from the “always available” list. On every cruise I say that I’ll try more fish as I can always have something else if I don’t like it, but I’m sorry to say I am not that brave and so went back to what I know and like! I thought that the quality of the food was very good overall, with some excellent beef and steak, and the portions were just right. We never felt “stuffed” after dinner – even though I ate more cheese and ice cream and yummy puds than I ever do at home. Having ordered the day before also meant we got served quicker than usual, although never rushed. Now I bet you’re wondering how much I put on during the cruise? The saying goes….”you board as a passenger and leave as cargo!” Well sorry to disappoint you but I didn’t put on anything – yes I couldn’t believe it either but I didn’t find another set of scales for a second opinion! Ports: We’d done all of the ports before and in most of them we just wandered and explored in the town on our own. We did a couple of ship tours - one in St Kitts (we’re done the train before so went for the Fort this time) and the other an island tour in St Lucia. These were OK and we saw a bit more of the islands than we had before. The air conditioning didn’t work on one of the buses though, so it was a case of opening all the windows so as not to fry! This was fine by me and it was lovely to have a warm breeze of my face. Not sure whether his bus would last the season though, as the clutch was also on it’s way out. Still, it just added to the local flavor of the place for me. I should warn you though that tour buses and I don’t mix anyway. On previous cruises, my tour bus in Bonaire had a flat tyre, the door fell off my bus in Hawaii, and the tour bus completely died going through the Rockies in Canada, where I could hear huge trucks thundering past in the pitch black. I was convinced we would be the filling in a “truck and tree” sandwich! So it would be wise for you to demand a different tour or at least a refund if you find yourself on the same tour bus as me! We had an extra day in Barbados, due to a poorly patient who needed specialist treatment (the Captain announced this when we were at dinner on Wednesday evening). So instead of arriving on the Friday morning, the Captain really “legged it” and we arrived a day early. This was the only time that I felt sea sick during the night (apart from looking at the cabin pictures too long), as it was very windy that evening and he’d really put the accelerator down. We did worry about the patient though, and hope that they made it back OK and got the treatment they needed and are getting better. Although we had to do immigration on the ship that Thursday at a set time (a very reasonable time so we still got our lie-in that morning), it was a fast and efficient process, and we were off the ship at lunchtime with a nice walk into Bridgetown. The following day we went to the beach – not the prettiest but there weren’t many people there and the white sand and warm clear sea was good enough for me, and it was only the other side of town so well within walking distance. On the way back, we saw two turtles in the marina (or whatever it’s called by town where the boats park). I’d never seen turtles before so that was just lovely. Being British I just have to mention the weather! It was an average of around 28deg C most days, one day I think hit around 33. So lovely and warm then. In Dominica it HEAVED it down with rain all day!! It was so bad that an announcement was made to say that all morning ship tours were cancelled, and they named two afternoon ones that were still going, including whale watching. Around lunchtime though, they announced these were also cancelled – if the whales had any sense they would have scarped far away from the monsoon! We had a few showers on and off, but the sun came out and it was dry again soon enough. It is wonderful getting up in the morning and going out onto the balcony with the sun shining and feeling the heat. There were a few afternoons though when the sun was on the balcony, and even I couldn’t stay outside as I felt like I was being roasted in an oven! One of the nicest parts for me too, was coming back from dinner, putting on my PJs, and going out and sitting on the balcony, in the warmth and looking at the clear starry sky and listening to the swish of the waves. Bliss! The only thing that spoiled it a little for me, was that quite often, there were balcony lights left on either side of us, when there was no one using the balcony. When I looked out, there were also many balconies with lights on without anyone being out there (I could see on the D deck ones below as their balconies are completely uncovered). I know its not a big issue, but what a waste of energy and as I love being out there in the dark, it’s just an annoyance for me. Not sure why the steward doesn’t switch off any lights not being used by guests when they do the rooms in the evening? Interesting snippets (well I think they’re interesting but you may not!): We were parked next to an RCI ship (think it was RCI but I may be having a senior moment!) in one port (at my age my memory isn’t was it used to be so can’t remember which one it was), and there were also 2 other ships in port (including Arcadia). There were frequent calls with a number of names for them to ring reception (those who obviously weren’t back on the ship), until only two were left unaccounted for. We should have left at 5pm, but we were still there about 20 minutes later. The horns sounded and off we went, pulling back from the dock, waving and cheering with the RCI passengers who were also not long off leaving. We must have got about 30 feet or so from the dock when a couple came “rushing” down the dock waving to us. They were our 2 missing passengers! Now if I’d have been the Captain, as they should have been on at least 45 minutes ago, I would have said “hard luck you’re too late”, but being the lovely Captain that he was, he actually moved the ship back to the dock to let them board. What I did find irritating was that the couple didn’t even seem sorry! There was clapping and whistling from our ship, and he was making bows to the ship, not at all looking embarrassed and just acting like an idiot! As we’d then missed our departure slot, we had to wait until all the other 3 ships had gone, and so left port about an hour late. Now I did hear that the couple were billed £500 for the extra costs the ship incurred and they refused to pay, so were put off the ship at the next port, but I don’t have any evidence to prove this, so it may just be wishful thinking! We weren’t the only ship with missing passengers though, as on the RCI ship, even after they had taken up the gangway, there were staff leaning out of the doorway looking up the dock for the missing suspects. I suspect that some were left behind there. We also heard towards the end of the cruise, that two families had been kicked off the Ventura. One because the children were caught shop lifting in the on-board shops and the other due to drunken behaviour, (they had been warned about this) but as it continued, they were chucked off. Serves them right IMHO! Captain: Charlie Carr was superb. He had the most wonderful sense of humour! We just happened to come out of dinner into the Captains Party in the atrium, so we stayed for his speech. He started by telling us how sorry he was that it was around 28 degrees C where we were and only 4 degrees and raining in Newark. He then continued something like……. ”Tomorrow we’re going to St Kitts…..the next day to….uuummmm….somewhere else….and the day after that…uuummm….somewhere else again”. (It may not have been St Kitts but I was on holiday mode by then and can’t remember exactly what port he said we were going to the next day!) Library – not the biggest or the best I’ve seen on a ship, but I still managed to borrow enough books to last me the 2 weeks (DH had his hands on MY Kindle). The Azura previous offered Kindles to borrow, but they weren’t available on here. I was only able to borrow 2 books at a time, so I made DH get 2 more out for me on his card. However I did notice that I’d dropped my 2 books off in the bin just before the library opened in the afternoon, and I took out another two. They couldn’t possibly have checked my old books back in before I took my new ones out! There was also a table just outside the library where people had left their own books for “recycling”. I managed to pick up two, but when I returned the last one I had at the end of the cruise, this table was overflowing with books! So if you want some reading material, I’d suggest getting there early, as books are still popular. For those who wanted to keep up to date with the news, there was a summary news sheet on a table by the Costa coffee bar, along with a daily suduko/crossword. There was also BBC World News on the cabin TV as well as Sky News and sport, and although we did keep up to date with what was going on, I must admit that I like to be away from everything when I’m in holiday, and be in my own world for 2 weeks. Spa: As we’d got some OBC, I treated myself to a pedicure treatment at the spa. Wish I’d never bothered!! The therapist told me that 2 months ago she’s been working in an office – this bothered me a little as I wondered just how much training she’d had to do the treatments. I sat in a chair and put my feet in lukewarm going on cool water, then I suddenly felt that I was being punched in the back! She’s only started the massager in the chair without a word to me, and as I have a back injury, this was the last thing I needed. I managed to stop it (but not before it had irritated my injury to the extent that I needed some analgesia when I got back to the cabin), but the treatment then got worse when she pushed so hard that she made my toe bleed! The basic pedicure was 45 mins but the more expensive one I’d opted for was an hour, but I was in and out within 45mins and had nothing more than a basic pedicure (I was glad really as it was anything but relaxing), and to add insult to injury, they added on an automatic gratuity to the bill! My back and toe throbbed and the more I reflected on the treatment I’d received, the more annoyed I got and worried she could potentially do some real damage to someone else, especially by putting the massager on without any sort of consultation or consent. I couldn’t let it go, so I went up to the spa and insisted on speaking to the Spa Manager. I suggested that his staff should have some proper training and better client care is needed. I got 50% of the treatment cost back, but my main concern is that I hope they treat people with more care in future. For anyone who is thinking of paying a visit to the spa on a future cruise, be aware that they add on an automatic gratuity (and there was even another place on the slip you sign to insert yet another tip!). Miscellaneous: We like our pop and there was a general store in the Barbados port shops area where we picked up a couple of large bottles of Coke light and some smaller bottles at a very reasonable price. We struggled to find larger bottles in other ports, so if you’re like us and like your pop, I’d advise stocking up in Barbados before the cruise leaves. Yes I know we can buy it on the ship, but its far cheaper doing it this way. On deck 4 where we disembarked in ports, there was a table by the medical centre, which had a number of leaflets advertising offers in different shops. The only one I used was that for Diamonds International to get a free charm bracelet. With the bracelet you can then get a free charm in the ports where there is a DI store. OK they aren’t worth anything as they are free, but they are fine for kids, and my friends’ twin 6 year old granddaughters think they’re great! Future cruise payment – we considered doing this on board but when we read the conditions, decided not to. We would have to book a cruise within 1 year and if we didn’t, we would lose the deposit. We would also only get £25pp for the balcony cabin we have for a 2 week cruise. As we don’t have anything in mind at present to book, a year is not long enough for us, so we chose not to do this. Princess beats P&O hands down here, as with their similar offer, we have 2 years to book and if we choose not to, we get the deposit back (I understand that they’ll also extend it to 4 years if you ask). Sorry P&O but I don’t think this is a good deal unless you already have a cruise in mind that you want to book within the next 12 months. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive as Ventura had a bit of a “party” reputation at one stage, but I didn’t find that except at times when you’d expect it to be lively like New Year’s Eve. There also didn’t appear to be as many younger children on this cruise but more teenagers, who we weren’t aware caused any problems. I also didn’t hear the usual “moans and groans” that I’ve heard on other cruises from the British, so I assume that most people had a good time – those we spoke to had enjoyed their holiday. Did we have a good time? NO! We had a brilliant time! Relaxed and rested, good food, visited some lovely places and met some very nice people. And had sun and warmth. Would we do it again? We are! We had already booked the Ventura again for next xmas/new year. We even picked the same cabin (which we only realised after we’d booked it!) – so I’ll be checking for even more fluff under the desk! I am sorry that I have gone on a lot but I hope that at least some of you have managed to stay awake and found it interesting or useful. Happy cruising to you all.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
my husband and i took our first cruise 2 years ago on an american cruise liner and my husband hated it.. He reluctantly agreed to make the "sacrifice to take me on a P&O cruise to the Carribean for my 60th birthday on the ... Read More
my husband and i took our first cruise 2 years ago on an american cruise liner and my husband hated it.. He reluctantly agreed to make the "sacrifice to take me on a P&O cruise to the Carribean for my 60th birthday on the uinderstanding that if he disliked it again the word cruise would not pass my lips again - Well given he would have been prepared to stay on the ship for another 2 weeks at the end of the trip I can safely say this cruise was a great success. Firstly it really helped that this was a British cruise ship and everything about it was very British, from the entertainment to the sail away parties, games on deck, talks on Nelson in the Carribean and the absolutely fabulous afternoon teas, with warm scones and teacakes and jam and cream and dainty little cakes. Secondly it is essential to choose the right area to cruise in. We are very active people and not sunbathers. so it was great that we spent very little time at sea, arrived at 7.am at most destinations and were able to disembark as early as 8.15am We then toured each island by local taxi's and hit the beaches for swimmimg before heading back to the ship at 4 p.m to get afternoon tea. It is wrong to assume cruising is for the feeble oldies. We did so much each day we actually looked forward to a day on board to recuperate ready for the next landing. When we had a day on board we chatted to other passengers and took in the entertainment. Formal dining took place on the 3 days we were at sea so I also took the opportunity to spend a little time getting my hair back into shape. We were never bored. The carribean is a delight but I wouldn't have wanted to spend more than a few days in each destination so the cruise was a perfect way to do it. For many on the cruise this was their second, 3rd or even 4th time cruising the Carribean and they suggested on the first cruise you should take the opportunity to tour the islands to get a feel for each destination and then take the cruise a second time and just hit the best beaches. That's an idea we may take up.in 2014/15. The Ventura may not be the most spectacular ship on the ocean but we found it spacious and dined well in the Bay Tree Restaurant. There were some interesting and fun people on our table so we chose to dine there each evening to catch up but had that not been the case we could have chosen freedom dining instead. The food was excellent in the Bay Tree and our waiters a joy to be with each night. In general we found all the staff friendly and anxious to please (excluding security staff, whether on the ship or at the airport - are these people specifically selected to have no sense of humour) The entertainment particularly from the inhouse theatre group was very good - west end style shows lasting about 45 minutes and then on to one of the bars to see tribute acts and comedians. Generally all very good. The casino was a little small and we had difficulty in getting on the tables after 10pm. One great thing about P&O above other cruise lines is they will allow you to bring your own drink on board and take it to your room . I believe most cruise ships take it off you and return it at the end of the cruise We didn't do it because we are not drinkers but many were bringing cheap liquor on board from the duty free shops. The only thing which spoiled our cruise was finding out that people in better cabins had paid a lot less than us because they had booked only two weeks before sailing - some people they had paid substantially less than others and caused a great deal of resentment . P.O need to find some way of avoiding this You don't have to take the ships tours at any of the islands visited. The local taxi's are brilliant, well organised and reliable. You don't pay until you get back so they always pick you up and anyway there are hundreds of them touting for your business. They are now controlled by the tourist boards and prices are more or less fixed. The only cruise ship trip we did was swimming with turtles in Barbados. We were a bit surprised to find our catamaran stopped off a beach in view of the cruise ship and others swam with the turtles under there own steam by paying 8 dollars for a taxi whilst we paid £64 on the boat - we did get to snorkel over a shipwreck and cruise to another beach and it was very nice but next time we would do it on our own. Always get talking to people on the boat you would be amazed how many times some people have been and how much they know. Having seen the Carribean for the first time I know why they keep coming back. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Our latest P & O Cruise on board Ventura began way back in July 2012 when we had a family get together back up North on Merseyside when my eldest brother in-law wanted to arrange a special birthday (60th) but didn’t know what to do, ... Read More
Our latest P & O Cruise on board Ventura began way back in July 2012 when we had a family get together back up North on Merseyside when my eldest brother in-law wanted to arrange a special birthday (60th) but didn’t know what to do, having cruised many times over the last decade I suggested a cruise, the question came back ‘Where can we go were the weather is good on the 30th November (His Birthday) My answer either the Canaries or the Caribbean, Caribbean won, so we booked a fly- cruise A party of four departing from Manchester & Us from Gatwick meeting on board Ventura in Barbados for a 14 night PARTY. During the weeks leading up to our departure date we kept a close eye on the long range weather forecast, which wasn’t looking to good Rain/Rain/Thunderstorms/Partly Cloudy & more Rain, never mind it has to be better than the UK @ the end of Nov, what a pleasant surprise to find on arrival in Barbados glorious sunshine knocking on the door of 30C, after having been given a flight upgrade to B/A, a cabin upgrade plus onboard credit, could things get any better? We arrived at Bridgetown Cruise Terminal just short of 6.00pm, were Ventura awaited, given our Cruise Cards and headed to our pre-arranged meeting place of Deck 16,Starboard side(Smoking), Breakers Bar to meet the family, whom had arrived earlier in the afternoon via their Manchester Thomas Cook flight. Whilst participating in ‘Sailaway’ drinks, we compared flights and general pre- cruise arrangements (1-0) to British Airways. Once our luggage arrived which to be fair wasn’t too long, we spent our time before dinner, unpacking and having a leisurely drink on our (Upgraded) balcony as we sailed into the sunset. We decided against Dinner at our designated table in the Bay Tree Restaurant (Deck 6 aft) & headed for the on Deck BBQ (Deck 15 Laguna Bar & Grill) accompanied with poolside tunes from our on board Caribbean Band ‘Caribbean Cruise) Our first full day on board Ventura was a Sea day were we spent most of the daylight hours around the pool enjoying the beautiful weather which wasn’t forecast, us boys having a few beers, whilst the girls tried several of the cocktails on offer inc ‘Cocktail’ of the day, the evening, our first of four ‘Formal’ nights we dressed appropriately Tuxedo for the men and Ball gown or Cocktail dress for the ladies as we headed for second sitting (8.30) for dinner, after which there was an array of entertainment to choose from either in the ‘Arena’ theatre, Tamarind Club or ‘Havana’ to name but a few. Day Two: Our first Port of Call: Grenada After getting up pretty early 5.30am to watch us pull into port and tie up in the capital of St. George’s, we met in the ‘Waterside’ for a Full English cooked breakfast as well as fresh fruit, croissants yoghurts etc..The Manchester crew (My two Brothers in law & their respective partners) headed for their meeting place for the first of their many pre- booked excursions on this occasion they had chosen ‘Hike to the Seven sister’s’. We in turn just decided to wander the streets & the old fort before having a few beers in a local tavern which happened to be owned by a very friendly German & his wife. Back on board before departure we had the usual drinks by the pool, this time with music by ‘Cruise Edition’, followed by dinner. Tonight’s entertainment was to be a tribute to ‘The British Queen of Soul’ Dusty Springfield in ‘Havana’ or Jimmy James ‘The priest of Soul’ in the Arena Theatre. Day Three: St Lucia Even though this was my fourth time in the Port of Castries, St Lucia it was the first time I thoroughly enjoyed it, 1st time we never managed to get ashore through adverse weather as it was a tender port 2nd Walk the perimeter fence of the airport trying to find a beach 3rd didn’t venture out of Castries due to a very heavy night the previous evening. So after nine years of wanting (We were first here in 2004) we managed to arrange/haggle a taxi to take all six of us to Marigot Bay ‘the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean’ white sand, turquoise waters, swaying palms, ticking every box in tropical paradise and to top it off the location of the infamous film ‘Dr Dolittle’ In a word FABULOUS After a very strenuous day at the beach as I’m sure you can imagine, we didn’t do a lot after dinner other than a few drinks in Havana again and then enjoyed the evening on the balcony watching the sun disappear, hoping it would return in the morning and the sound of the waves crashing alongside Ventura as we headed to our next port at a tranquil average speed of 7.9 knots Day Four: Dominica Sunrise; 6:13 am & up early again, this time split into three teams after what seems to be the compulsory Full English and everything else that goes with it Breakfast, the Manchester crew are split Boys/ & Girls. The boys are going ‘River Tubing followed by Hibiscus Falls, whilst the girls are ‘Hot Springs Escape’. Us in turn are doing our usual photo shoot around port then heading for what is probably the most ‘Bizarre’ bar in the ‘World’ Having been here again a few times in the past we have seen the ‘Ruins’ Caribbean Bar as it is known grow in stature. 1st year No Roof, 2nd year Electric & a roof (The Beer fridges & Music were getting the electric from a petrol generator in the street) 3rd time: Air Conditioning, every time we have been we are the only non local people to enter, by the time we leave it is full of fellow ‘Cruises’ it is an experience not to be missed, the Rum punch is unforgettable, Oh I nearly forgot they have a snake pit in the cellar. Looking forward to the next year of improvements. Back on board we had our usual ‘Sailaway’ followed by getting ready for dinner , this time meeting for pre-dinner drinks in Ventura’s stylish ‘Glass House’ (Deck 7 Fwd) a relaxed wine bar that also serves food which is dedicated to the love of fine wine . After dinner ‘Mark Walker’ deserves a mention as he performed his Award winning impressions of Billy Connolly, Freddie Mercury & Michael Jackson etc… in the ‘Arena theatre’ (Deck 6 & 7 Fwd) Day Five: St Kitts After a leisurely overnight passage of some 50 miles, we arrived in St Kitts, accompanied by two other cruise ships MSC Musica & Aida Bella, so between us 9000 passengers, split approx three ways 3 thousand Brits/Italians /Germans headed into the sleepy town of Basseterre and have a party, what a day, with the local Carib beer being sold for as little as 99 cents a bottle & souvenirs in abundance, together with yet another great day of weather other than the odd minute long shower , fun was had by all. Frivolities continued into the early hours with the Entertainment team as they took us back in time with the 60s & 70s night around the Laguna Pool & Breakers Bar (Deck 15 & 16 fwd). Day Six: St Maarten My personnel favourite, our first time hear we came ashore by tender, however a new cruise terminal & complex has been built over the years, again beautiful weather welcomed us to the island of St. Maarten an island shared 50/50 between the Dutch & French, we chose to walk the short distance into town, you can take a water taxi if you prefer. After the compulsory browse around the many shops & market stalls as well as the unbelievably cheep Duty Free shops, we found a spot on the beach for the afternoon until which time we had to make our way back to the ship, on walking back to the cruise terminal were both Ventura and NCL Norwegian Gems, awaited their respective passengers the heavens opened & we experienced a tropical storm that I had never had the pleasure of before, so we had to dive into a bar for cover as well as to sample the local beer. ‘Sailaway’ unfortunately was a complete wash out due to the weather which eventually passed over, then the usual drinks before dinner, then dinner & the evening entertainment in the several venues. Day Seven: Tortola Half way through already (Not Good) The BIG day had arrived, the reason why we were all here (The 60th Birthday) so to start the cabin door was decorated with the usual 60th banners & balloons. Cards, presents and best wishes were presented to the ‘Birthday Boy’. After breakfast we headed ashore, wandered around Tortola on a very humid day, unfortunately the port of ‘Road Town’ doesn’t have a lot to offer other than a few bars around the marina area and several shops, one of which was fascinating ‘The Best of British’ a convenience store, the likes of which you would find back home, selling everything ‘British’ cans of Heinz bake beans, soups, Kelloggs corn flakes, English canned beers to name but a few, they were doing a roaring trade in this ‘British Virgin Island’. We headed back to the ship reasonably early as we had pre booked an Al Fresco table in the alternative dining restaurant ‘White Room’ for 6:30pm. Marco Pierre White now has an alternate dining venue on six out of the seven strong P & O fleet (Azura being the exception) The intimate dining room offers superb views out over the ship’s wake and a terrace area for Al Fresco, unfortunately closed on our evening due to adverse weather, this however didn’t spoil, what turned out to be a fabulous evening, the menu is as impressive as your surroundings. After desert, a Champagne bottle shaped birthday cake arrived at our table with a single candle and duly decorated wishing ‘Paul’ Happy Birthday. Day Eight: At Sea. After a late celebratory night, we duly went for our usual buffet breakfast and a lazy day ahead as we were at sea as Ventura maintained her course across the Caribbean Sea towards Curacao, we spent most of the day @ Breakers Bar overlooking the pool as the weather was Sunny with temperatures topping 32 C. The Evening attire was ‘Formal’ and a ‘Black & White’ ball was held in the atrium Day Nine: Curacao Curacao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast, and we docked in the capital city of Willemstad. Another beautiful sunny day and we just strolled around the city which is split into two main districts, the Punda and the Otrabanda , by St. Anna Bay, the view from either side is of beautiful 17th Century gabled houses ,typically Dutch in all aspects bar one- their facades are wild pastel shades. Queen Emma Bridge, also known as the floating bridge or The Swinging Old Lady links the two main areas of the city. After ‘Sailaway’ we decided to have tonight’s dinner in ‘The Waterside’ buffet restaurant as the evening Theme was Neptune, which was everything fish, once finished we headed to Havana as the tribute was John Ellis as Elton John. Later in the evening we headed back up to Breaker’s Bar as one of the entertainment team were playing Relaxing Reggae under the Stars. Day Ten: Bonaire. Another sunny/fun packed day awaited us as we arrived early in the port of Kralendijk, the island of Bonaire is surrounded by coral reefs and the boys had pre-booked a Cruise &Snorkel day trip on board a 40ft catamaran ‘Mushi Mushi’, we in turn headed for Eden Village a beach resort we had found several years ago on our previous visit. ‘Sailaway’ this evening is advertised as the BIG one. As we are invited to the biggest party of the cruise. A good old knees up around the Laguna pool, with music, dancing, and lots of flag waving, it did not disappoint as everyone on board joined in and as a finale the entertainment staff cooled off by jumping into the pool fully dressed. The party atmosphere continued as tonight was Tropical Party Bonanza Night, with the Caribbean buffet bbq fired up and the sun setting in the sky, everyone duly arrived in their newly purchased Caribbean Tropical attire, the party continued into the small hours but we didn’t need to be up early the following day as we had two sea days ahead as we headed back to Barbados which awaited some 534 nautical miles away Day Eleven: At Sea. This was the first of our two (2) days at sea, we woke up to another fine morning, but a little windy on our port side balcony as we had no sun our side until later in the day, I decided that before breakfast, I would take advantage of the laundry facilities on board and get our washing out the way, all was done in a little over an hour, all washed and dried and ready to pack. We spent the most of the day as per usual at Breakers Bar whilst the sun continued to shine. The shops were busy all day with last minute Tax & Duty Free shopping The evening was to be our final ‘Formal’ night, so we duly got ready for dinner, we had, yet again a delicious meal at our table in the Bay Tree Restaurant. Day Twelve: At Sea. Our final sea day before arriving in ‘Ventura’s home port of the winter months Barbados, another fine day at sunrise just before 6.30am, I wandered the open decks as I usually do first thing, and after several cups of coffee & a few cigarettes, met up with the others for breakfast, after which the day was spent in and around the pool. The shops were again busy with fellow guests purchasing their last minute shopping and photographs from the photo gallery. The atmosphere was quite sombre during the day as the majority of passengers were disembarking in the morning and heading back to the U.K. The evening was more or less the same, but as we were finishing our dinner in the Bay Tree, we had the traditional ‘Chefs Parade ‘ were all the ships Chef’s gather together and walk through the restaurant to raptures of support and thanks. As the evening drew to a close we had a few hours in Havana’s and then circumnavigated the Promenade Deck (Deck 7) before retiring to the comfort of our own cabin & balcony. Day Thirteen: Barbados On arrival and watching from our port side balcony, the quayside was a hive of activity with passengers disembarking and luggage being taken from the ship to be transported to the airport, We thankfully still had a full day in Bridgetown, Barbados to look forward too. So after the compulsory breakfast, headed off the ship and toward town, a fifteen minute stroll along the esplanade, across the bridge of the harbour, which is full of deep sea fishing boats for hire and onto the ‘Boatyard’ a beach resort, that we found awhile back and this was to be our fourth visit. For a small admission charge of $15.00 (About £10.00) you have the use of all the facilities, sun lounger, parasol, bar, restaurant, rest rooms, beach games & a free homemade Rum Punch! An absolutely fabulous way to spend our last afternoon in the Caribbean, until next time of course. They also offer a complimentary mini-bus return to the ship if you choose to use it, as well as a shop with plenty of beach wear to choose from. Our final evening on board was spent packing our suitcases for collection from our cabin for transfer to the airport. Our farewell dinner in the restaurant was completed by saying a big thank you to the superb waiters for excellent food and service. A few drinks in the Havana, again thanking all staff that we came across. We had a reasonably early night, and not looking forward to having to head back home to the British weather in early December. Day Fourteen: Final Day As per usual I managed to awake early, and wanting to find out the previous days football results , turned the TV on to Sky Sports News, only to see ‘Breaking News’ scrolling along the bottom of the screen. ‘Airport Delays all over the UK’. After watching for awhile, I alerted the others in our party. Thankfully after breakfast the ‘Ships Company’ announced that instead of us all having to spend an unknown amount of time at the airport, we were allowed to spend the day on board Ventura until which time our flight was confirmed. As each flight was called, we said our ‘Goodbyes’ to new found friends and our family, who were heading back to Manchester. As the ship began to fill with new passengers, we eventually headed to the airport at 17.00hrs. The flight was due for take-off at a re-scheduled time of 20.30hrs. All went well and we arrived back in Gatwick after our overnight flight after what must be a near record time of seven hours flying time. All in all a fabulous and most memorable holiday cruise and has made us decide to do it all again in a little over three months, so will need to start packing again in the middle of March 2014.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
I was a reluctant cruiser. The thought of being inactive and surrounded by people and food did not impress me. I had enjoyed the intimate river cruises with Viking for the last 3 years and needed a winter break somewhere warm at a more ... Read More
I was a reluctant cruiser. The thought of being inactive and surrounded by people and food did not impress me. I had enjoyed the intimate river cruises with Viking for the last 3 years and needed a winter break somewhere warm at a more affordable price than Viking have now become. We booked 5 weeks before on a getaway deal. We were impressed with the balcony room on B deck. The balcony was just big enough for 2, 4 at a push when our daughters joined us if they sat on the foot stool and table. Small shower room though. My parents paid £200 more each for a deluxe balcony room with a bathroom and a living area with a 4 seater sofa and chair in their larger room. They also had a bigger balcony and were on D deck., but it was overlooked by all the decks above ( As are the balconies on C deck). No privacy if you want to sunbathe. The ship is cleverly designed. Adults in the front, kids at the back, noisy pool with dj in the middle. The food in the restaurant was lovely and varied. The service was exceptional. The staff were friendly and the captain a delight to talk to. We were tempted to eat elsewhere one night and pay the extra cover charge, but we didn't want to abandon our waiters or the food and stayed loyally eating at the 6.30pm sitting. Prices on the ship were reasonable. £15 for a bottle of wine, £20 for a trip to the beach, more for more exotic excursions. We went Whale watching for £55 each, Kayaking and snorkelling £46 each. On other days we organised our own taxi tours that were plentiful and competitively priced. The cruise island itinerary was good ( Barbados, Granada, St Lucia, Dominica, St Maarten, St Kitts, Tortolla and then our favourites Curacao and Bonaire (Little Gems),. There was a good blend of island days and sea days to relax. Good idea to have 2 sea days to take us back to Barbados where we chilled and relaxed by the endless pool, It was not boring and neither was it like Butlins I am really glad I took the leap. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We booked the cruise through P&O and their after sales service was very good, the few questions we had were answered promptly, booking the shore excursions on line was easy and we did this in early December to make sure we got the ones ... Read More
We booked the cruise through P&O and their after sales service was very good, the few questions we had were answered promptly, booking the shore excursions on line was easy and we did this in early December to make sure we got the ones we wanted. For car parking we used CPS at Southampton and then got the train to Gatwick to fly out, this was easier for us on returning to the UK and the service we got from CPS was very good and we would recommend them. For money changing we used Travelex on line a few weeks before going, the rates onboard are not that good. There seemed some confusion onboard as to what currency was used where. The port guidance P&O issued for some ports said that it was the US Dollar whereas it was the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, though to be fair USD are accepted in most places but this confusion didn’t help as we had lots of ECD. The flight out was a Thompsons charter flight and we couldn’t fault the service, the crew were helpful, the food not bad for in flight catering and the drinks and snacks not too badly priced. Steer clear of the movies unless you take your own headphones, we couldn’t hear a thing. Also we book seats towards the back of the plane and the overhead lockers here are used by the crew. Embarkation was not good. We landed at about quarter to three in Barbados and didn’t get onboard until after 6. Perhaps the prior experience with NCL had soiled us but the process was very very slow with P&O seeming unable to cope with the number of passengers that were embarking, they must have know how many were coming? We were also only given one map of the ship between two with ‘not enough’ for one each, I presume we were supposed to get lost together or only the person with the map could get lost. We knew what to expect onboard as we had visited the ship on one of the open days that P&O hold. The bags made it from the Gatwick to the cabin without us seeing them, full marks to P&O for this service, the bags probably got onboard quicker than we did. After the two weeks onboard we still couldn’t fault how clean and well kept the ship was, the public areas are very busy on sea days but were spotless the next morning. For excursions we went to Grand Anse Beach which was a fantastic way to spend the first morning, the rainforest tour in St Lucia, this was interesting but you wont see much wildlife, swimming with Stingrays in Antigua which was very good, and a boat and coach tour in Tortola, well worth doing. Shopping was ok, duty free alcohol prices are good and if you want a drink in your cabin do not buy at Gatwick, wait until you get too the Caribbean, its much cheaper! Would we go back, well we’ve already booked for next year on the Azura as the Ventura isn’t coming back to Southampton and we liked the fact that we didn’t have to worry about shopping and weight restrictions when we were on holiday! Overall it was a great experience, a few gripes about the entertainment as are set out below but P&O work very hard to make your holiday complete. The entertainment was mixed. The bad points first; you have to get to a venue early for a show or act, nearly an hour early in some cases, and then the set is no longer than 40 minutes which leaves you then going to the next venue and waiting for an hour. This was even worse on formal nights as there seemed to be no purpose to dressing up, other than to dress up! We watched Headlines once and they were dire, the show was called ‘Relax’ and was set to 80’s music. Given the 80’s was one of the most diverse time musically and for dance a handful of songs with the same dance moves to them was little better than a school play. Of better quality was Steve Larkins as Mercury Rising, one of the best tribute acts we had seen. The Tom Jones impersonator was ok, though he seem more nervous than anything, Jimmy Love as Elton John was worth the wait. On the more variety/comedy side Matt Edwards did some good magic, Steve Tandy was pretty funny while Peter Piper was fantastic. Dynamite Grove did several turns and for a young group had a huge range of music, full credit to them, while Into the Drift were very slick and worth the listen. Overall the entertainment was well below what we had experienced on NCL but the waiting times and the short sets was the most frustrating and P&O should note not all of their passengers are over 70. For general entertainment on the sea days it was, again frustratingly, the same formula each day, we wanted to learn bridge but this started at 10 every morning, which meant we would have to get up at 8. Come one P&O, people are on holiday and how much effort would it take to move the times around a little! Bar prices onboard were good a round costing only 5p more than at home! The variety of drinks was more than wide enough and while we did some damage to the list of cocktails I’m not sure we finished them all. Shopping was ok though some prices were mind bogglingly high. They do special promotion days at sea and these are worth looking out for. We read mixed reviews about the dining before we left and we spoke to a few people who complained about the food while we were onboard, I can only presume they were eating somewhere we never found. The food was great, we ate in the Cinnamon Restaurant 3 times, and had one bad meal which was when my partner asked for the light choice to be served chicken and chips! Otherwise the food was excellent, East just about worth the cover charge, Las Ramblas (now gone) well worth the charge and the buffet restaurant we couldn’t fault. Chips and tomato sauce are just what you need at 1.30am, and we were the only ones to think that! I was amused to see some people fair sprint for the buffet when it opened, perhaps they were burning calories, but there is no need to hurry, we always got a seat and we ate well every meal, with the one exception, not bad for four meals a day for two weeks. As for the moaners, do you really eat better than that at home? The cabin was well laid out with ample storage. The pictures on the wall were of St Ives and we wondered if P&O put pictures on the wall where all the guests are from to make them feel at home. Our cabin steward, Cristos, was attentive but not in your face and he must have got fed up waiting for us to surface on sea days. The tea and coffee making facilities are good and well stocked, nice to have a brew when you want one. We had limited towel animals, 2 in two weeks, perhaps because we go up late we were being punished, but the cabin was always clean. The service was the best we have ever received any where we have been. We could not fault it. All of the crew were helpful, smiling and attentive, the Captain, a G&T man, was amusing, and clearly proud of his crew. We heard one passenger call them all useless as there were no spoons in the buffet one morning, we’d been at sea for 5 days at this point and I’m sure Columbus had these problems, and one chap at supper moaned about the service but we just couldn’t see it. Top marks here P&O.   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We were delighted with the way that our cases were taken from us in Manchester and didn't see them again until they arrived in our cabin, which was a Superior Deluxe outside on Deck D.The cabin steward was superb in looking after us ... Read More
We were delighted with the way that our cases were taken from us in Manchester and didn't see them again until they arrived in our cabin, which was a Superior Deluxe outside on Deck D.The cabin steward was superb in looking after us and ensuring we had everything we needed. He worked very hard and came into the cabin 2-3 times per day. However I got the impression that some of his customers didn't treat him as well as they could have done (more later about these types. We generally ate in the Saffron and Bay Tree and the service was both unhurried and very professional with our usual 2 waiters being absolutely brilliant. We thought the standard of food was very good indeed on every visit with plenty of choices available.We also used the self service a couple of lunchtimes and found the standard of food good, the only problem was in finding a table that was being reserved by people who wanted to eat by themselves. So selfish. The entertainment in all theatres and bars was very professional. We were particularly impressed with the resident Headliners Theatre Group who worked very hard to present 6 different shows during the 14 days. We also enjoyed the soul singer Clem Curtis, Tucker a great comedian, Gareth Oliver a superb comedian and ventriloquist,speaker John Lyons (from a Taste of Frost).We also enjoyed the daily quiz in the Exchange Pub after the main shows. We booked 8 trips with P & O to different islands and enjoyed them all. Yes you do pay a few pounds each for the trips but we felt they were well organised trips with a guide who explained all about their island. It was difficult to get a sunbed on the days the ship was at sea, because everyone was on board, but on days in port there was plenty available. The trips generally lasted up to 4 hours so you could lay in the sun in the afternoons. Our main complaint is against some of the cruisers on the ship.I have to stress that the majority of people were very nice and would talk or pass the day with you but there was a small minority who thought they were above most people and would insist on trying to outdo anyone with stories of how many times they have cruised or their villas in the south of France.They looked at people as if they had stepped on something in the road and they couldn't even speak to each other in a civil way.Then they would turn up on formal nights in their fifteen year old dresses and Tuxedos thinking they were the bees knees. They definitely introduced us to a new level of pompousness and snobbery that we have never witnessed before. They talked about P & O standards dropping, I presume they mean with these lower classes being allowed on board, but lets face it without these customers booking with P & O the ship wouldn't sail at all. Overall a very good holiday, a lovely ship, great entertainment and some lovely people. Just a shame about the snobs on board. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
For a long time I tried to persuade my partner to go on a cruise to which got the same reply of that she didn't fancy it, well after to talking to lost of people in the restaurant that we run together we found that more and more ... Read More
For a long time I tried to persuade my partner to go on a cruise to which got the same reply of that she didn't fancy it, well after to talking to lost of people in the restaurant that we run together we found that more and more people were doing them, so eventually she said yes but only if she could have a balcony cabin, well the next day I was on the phone to a friend who I found out through facebook was working for a cruise company booking cruises, so I booked a 2 week cruise round the caribbean, we upgraded on the flight, and decided to set a date for our wedding so that the holiday would be our honeymoon, well the holiday was soon here, and after having trouble with the online booking service to reserve our seats on the plane, we found ourselves setting out to the airport in the early hours of the morning to be at the airport 4hours before the flight, didn't mind leaving early as was too excited to sleep, but the wait at the airport was boring, we were soon on the plane and enjoying the comforts of upgrading and the service was excellent, good food, lots to drink and ice cream, the only bad thing that whilst making my way to toilet i caught a ladies arm and she split hot tea on her at first everyone was a bit upset, but the stewardess made sure we was all OK and made us all fell better, felt really bad about what had happened, well we were landing in Barbados and we were ushered on to coaches and whisked out of the airport and on our way to the ship, no going through customs and not waiting around for suitcases, on arrival at dockside we were very efficiently checked in and given our cruise cards and were soon on board, we was amazed at the size of the ship, and how nice and clean it was on board, we soon found our room and was very happy with what we had been given, as my friend had been on the ship the previous year and had had a similar cabin, we deiced to investigate the ship and had a quick look round before heading back to our room to see if the cases had arrived so that we could get ready for dinner to which they arrived just in time, one thing we have learnt is that we will take a smaller case next time with a change of clothes and swim wear in as it would of been nice to freshen up and have a dip and get out of the tradition winter clothes, we ate most nights in the cinnamon restaurant and I`m amazed to read reviews that said the food was cold and not that appealing, I as a chef found the food to be hot and very appetizing, we were very fortunate to met a lovely couple and had dinner most nights with them, we sat at the same table and had the same set of waiters, who were very entertaining and was always happy to make our dinning experience good as my wife and Steve who we ate with both were fussy eaters, the buffet breakfast was very good and there was always a great selection of food, i did find it amazing that some people were moaning that tea and coffee was not served to you, you had to get it yourself, its a buffet restaurant that's the whole idea getting it yourself. waiter service round by the pools was very good and as was it in the shows am surprised to see that people had trouble in getting drinksThe shows were amazing we really enjoyed everyone of them. we could not fault anything with the cruise, the food the service everything was better than we expected, we can not wait to return next January. the only thing that was wrong was that we was expected during our stay to choose our seats on the plane going home and to pay another 30 per person to fly home considering that we had payed £500 to upgrade this was something i wasn't going to pay put for, so ended up sitting behind my wife coming home, but we didn't mind this. all in all was a fantastic time and would recommend cruising to anyone, my wife decide after only 1 day on board that she wants to do this again, and since returning we have now book another 2 cruises, we have also said that cruising is the only way to travel, no more hotel holidays for us and staying on one island for the duration of the holiday, There is nothing better than going to bed after a good day, good food and good entertainment, than waking up at a different island, the sea days were good and finding a sun bed isn't as bad as people say you might not get the ideal spot that you want but there will be a bed somewhere. and sea days are good chance to go to talks and to see more of the ship, or do some washing if you need to, on sea days on ventura the evening is a formal night, these were good really enjoyed dressing up, it just made it that bit more special. the photography teams on board were good too tho the price of the photos could be a bit cheaper as we found not a lot got bought and the photos that got displayed got thrown away, what a waste of paper. we did buy the encore book which was a great keep safe. hope that this is off some help. Happy cruising. Colin Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Eastern Caribbean December 14- 28th 2013 This was our first cruise (we travelled with our daughters aged 21 & 16) Airport check in at Manchester, breezed through check in as we had opted for the Premium upgrade, bigger seats, good ... Read More
Eastern Caribbean December 14- 28th 2013 This was our first cruise (we travelled with our daughters aged 21 & 16) Airport check in at Manchester, breezed through check in as we had opted for the Premium upgrade, bigger seats, good food, free drinks, headphones & a goody bag...great start. We got off the plane and straight onto a waiting bus, no baggage to collect or immigration queues, just straight to the ship! Enjoyed the commentary from the bus driver too. Easy check in on the ship, quick photo and swipe of the credit card and on board. Cabins: We had outside balcony & inside cabins on C Deck. Both lovely and clean and we were well looked after by cabin stewards Lilybeth & Domnic. Nothing was too much trouble; both were really friendly and genuinely concerned that we had everything we needed. Baggage arrived at our cabin just before we had to go for our meal (informal on first night) we had toiletries in the cabin so managed showers before dinner. All areas of the ship looked clean. One or two looking a little bit tired in places, but on the whole nothing to complain about. We opted for the 8.30 sitting at dinner and were in the Bay Tree restaurant. Waiters were very efficient (almost too efficient sometimes, when dinner felt a bit rushed) It did slow down the second week to a more leisurely pace. I wonder if this is because the waiters here also have to work in the other bar areas during the evening. Food in the evening was to a good standard, portions sizes just right if you want 3 courses. Never managed to complete all 5! The menus were varied and wine prices were reasonable. We had opted to pre buy the Commodores package, it does work out a bit cheaper. Christmas day there was the full turkey dinner option or many other choices, hats & crackers etc on the tables made it more traditional. We mostly ate lunch and breakfast in Waterside which offered a very good choice of dishes, good quality, we tried afternoon tea once or twice too. Tables were cleaned and cleared quickly so no problem finding a table. They enforced the use of hand sanitizer, which given the recent norovirus outbreaks in the UK I was pleased that they did this. We dined in the White Room and East also. Both very good quality, worth the extra cost as the service is a bit more personal. Outside spaces & pools -- Only went in the adult pool near the spa, which was good it has the resistance option so you feel like your swimming against the tide, so can't comment on the other pools. They never really looked overly busy. Kids seem to enjoy them! I did have a bit of a fear of not getting a sunbed after reading reviews that people leaving towels on them all day but not turning up. It's obviously busier on the at sea days, but to be honest we never found it difficult to get 4 sunbeds together, and we didn't get up at the crack of dawn and put our towels on, we just went when we were ready and there were always beds available. That might be why you can barely get your foot in between them in some places. Guess that they do this so there are enough, but in some areas it did feel a bit close! Gym: Went 3 times during the two weeks, had intended to do more honest! Gym was well equipped, didn't really get too full, and was nice being on the treadmill looking out at the passing Caribbean islands! Bars/Entertainment -- We liked Red bar for pre dinner cocktails and champagne. Piano player was good in there too. Entertainment was ok..Nothing that outstanding, but it is a cruise ship. Freddie Mercury tribute act was good, even though I wasn't a fan of the real Freddie, this guy was quite entertaining. Also saw Headliners which were good. I admit to cringing when I've seen some of the sail away parties on DVDs but well you just have to join in when you are there. Neil Oliver the cruise director and his team did a really good job of making the sailaways fun. Shops: The essentials shop did sell just that...the things you may have forgotten, prices were more expensive than at home but not overly so. Jewellers did seem to have some good prices on things you can compare eg Watches. We had recently bought our daughter a watch for her 21st Birthday and could have got it on board around 20% cheaper...will know for next time. Perfume & Cosmetics shop didn't have a huge range but adequate. When it was time to leave, we packed our bags the night before left them outside the cabin and they were taken away and put on board, so again no luggage to check in, in fact no check in at the airport either, as you get your seat allocation and boarding cards for the plane while on board. It was a very efficient service, couldn't fault it at all. Would certainly cruise P&O again, in fact already booked for Dec 20th 2013 before we left the ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband, son (13 years) and I have just recently returned from a fantastic holiday aboard the Ventura sailing around the many beautiful islands of the Eastern Caribbean! Feel I need to write a review as we had such a wonderful time ... Read More
My husband, son (13 years) and I have just recently returned from a fantastic holiday aboard the Ventura sailing around the many beautiful islands of the Eastern Caribbean! Feel I need to write a review as we had such a wonderful time aboard this ship. Firstly, we flew with Thomson Airlines direct from Newcastle which was a treat being a direct flight of only 8.5 hours. The embarkation was very smooth and efficient and we weren't long exploring our home (ship) for the next two weeks. We found the Ventura to be very organised, clean with lots of helpful staff. Unfortunately there was a bout of Norovirus onboard as we embarked, but this situation was handled very well by P&O. Extra staff were in the buffet areas, where you were not allowed to handle any of the utensils. The staff served you. Antibacterial hand gel was strictly enforced, not only in the buffet, but in the main restaurants also. Within a couple of days, P&O advised there were no more reported cases of Norovirus and all usual facilities had resumed. Excellent points.... -Saffron Restaurant -- absolutely wonderful food (5 courses) each evening. My husband is a fussy eater. Here he always found such wonderful dishes on the menu. -Breakfast in the buffet. Always fully stocked even until late breakfast (around 11.30am) -East (Asian restaurant) -- we sat for lunch one day which we found to be very pleasant and enjoyable. -Ramblas (Tapas restaurant) -- again a pleasant treat with just a very small cover charge. -Drinks -- very reasonably priced including bottles of wine, which were enjoyed each evening at dinner. -The entertainment was fabulous in the Arena Theatre. We watched excellent comedians to a vocalist from the 'Foundations' in the 60's to the brilliant 'Headliners' Entertainment team. -We required a replacement bulb in our room. I called through to reception and within 5 minutes the maintenance team had it replaced. Overall, I would rate P&O 10/10. Mostly enjoyed and I will definitely book with this company again. We have sailed with Princess Cruises previously and find P&O to be just as good. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our first ever cruise and we really enjoyed it. Flight with Thomsons was superb and we came down the steps of the plane straight onto a coach which took us to the ship. Check in was very quick and hey presto we were on holiday. ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and we really enjoyed it. Flight with Thomsons was superb and we came down the steps of the plane straight onto a coach which took us to the ship. Check in was very quick and hey presto we were on holiday. We had a beautiful balcony cabin on the starboard side and our view the first day was onto the Carribean and another cruise ships and a couple of tall masted yachts...beautiful! Plenty of hanging and cupboard space and Edwin our Steward did a fabulous job of looking after our every need. We found the food in all the restaurants to be very good. We went for Freedom dining and it worked out perfectly for us. Drinks were very reasonable and we couldn't believe how cheap the duty free drinks were (£12for two litres of dark rum.) We kept a bottle of Cointreau in our room for a relaxed 'sundowner' each evening. The entertainment was very good with something for everyone I think. We had no problem what so ever with sunbeds. We ad a relaxed breakfast and then went up on deck and always got a sunbed without a problem but people were reserving and going away for hours and on a couple of days we saw two older ladies reserving both sunny and shade beds which is really a bit selfish. We were supposed to go to Tenerife but ended up in the Azores which we really enjoyed. Started to get a bit bored with the formal nights....three might have been enough but five days with none and then four formals very close to each other was a bit off balance. We had not one single complaint with this holiday apart from the fact that you had to be in the secret service to find a toilet. come on P&O some indication in the public rooms as to where they might be would be helpful. Enjoyed it and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We have just returned from a cruise on P&O Ventura to the Caribbean and had a great time. We flew from Manchester and all passengers were on our cruise which meant that we never had to go through customs or collect our cases in ... Read More
We have just returned from a cruise on P&O Ventura to the Caribbean and had a great time. We flew from Manchester and all passengers were on our cruise which meant that we never had to go through customs or collect our cases in Barbados and we were transferred to a coach as soon as we landed. Check in and boarding Ventura was very quick and efficient and our baggage arrived in our cabin shortly afterward we boarded the ship. The ship was bigger than on our previous cruises but we did not find this to be a problem once we had found and remembered our way around and if anything we preferred the larger ship. Our cabin was comfortable and always kept very clean by our steward who was very efficient and friendly. We requested fixed dining at the second sitting which was at 8.30 and this suited us as it meant we could relax after our days out and have a drink before dinner either in our cabin or in one of the many bars. For breakfast and lunch we used the buffet restaurants as this gave us more flexibility and although these restaurants did have times when vacant tables were hard to find, we just altered our times slightly and didn't have any problems. The food and service were excellent throughout. One big plus for us was the P&O policy on alcohol. On Celebrity Cruises we were only allowed to take two bottles of wine on board when boarding, bags were searched when returning from shore excursions and any bottles confiscated and any alcohol purchased from their duty free shop on board had to be retained in the shop and collected at the end of the cruise. P&O was totally different in that we were allowed to take bottles on when boarding, buy bottles of wine on shore and bring them onto the ship and even bottles bought in the duty free shops were allowed to be taken back to our cabin. In addition drink prices in the bars and restaurants were similar to UK pub prices whereas Celebrity were very expensive and also subject to a fixed service charge which was not negotiable. Another plus for P&O was their tipping policy in that it was left to our discretion as to who and how much we wanted to tip compared to Celebrity Cruises policy of a fixed amount added to your ship account every night. There were many different entertainment venues and bars which catered for all tastes and the theatre productions were excellent. We had some concerns after reading some reviews on P&O about shortage of sunbeds, rowdy passengers etc. but we did not have any problem with either of these. Yes sunbeds around the main pool were busy and it was noisy at times but there are several other areas where sunbeds were readily available and more peaceful. Again some of the reviews, mainly from seasoned cruisers, commented on a lowering of standards on P & O but I really do think some people can be very set in their ways and are very hard to please. Our cruise had four formal nights where dinner jackets or lounge suits were required for men and the other nights were smart casual which I personally thought was maybe one formal night too many. I am a recently retired professional and so I am quite used to dinner jackets and formal dinners but on the formal nights it did remind me too much of previous work functions and the atmosphere appeared to be different as some of the guests spent a lot of time examining what others were wearing to see if they conformed with "Cruise etiquette". I even saw one review of our cruise were someone complained that he saw a lady wearing a coloured dresses on Black and White Night. So What!! And anyway, P&O never advertised that there would be a Black and White Night until the night before. My wife wore a navy blue ball gown and looked gorgeous and all the ladies appeared to have made a real effort to dress up for the evening even though some of them might not have been in black or white dresses. Our highlights of the cruise were:- We enjoyed the large number of Islands visited and particularly liked the smaller islands of St Martin, Grand Turk and Bonaire as they were more relaxed and you always felt comfortable whilst walking around the areas surrounding the ship and whilst on the beaches whereas on some of the larger Islands you sometimes could feel intimidated if you wandered too far away from the ship. We also enjoyed a full day out in Jamaica where we had a trip to visit Nine Miles where Bob Marley was born and buried and also climbed the Dunn's River Falls which was great fun. We used Yardie's Tours who we found on the internet and they were very good. We also had a great day out in Antigua visiting Nelson's Dockyard and we were lucky enough to be there at the same time as the Royal visit of Prince Edward and Sophie. Overall we really enjoyed the cruise and would definitely go P&O again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
My husband and I cruised on the Ventura with friends for the second time, and we definitely weren't disappointed. The food and service was just as good as we remembered. Two weeks before the cruise I fell and broke my ankle and ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the Ventura with friends for the second time, and we definitely weren't disappointed. The food and service was just as good as we remembered. Two weeks before the cruise I fell and broke my ankle and thought I wouldn't be able to go on the cruise because of the flying, but I was lucky enough to have my plaster taken off and an air boot fitted a week before our holiday. I was not expecting to enjoy the holiday because of my broken ankle, but couldn't have been more wrong. I found all the crew very helpful, and every evening after our meal our waiter would get my wheelchair and wheel me to the lifts, even though my husband and our friends were with me. Some people might think this was because he was expecting a good tip, but we always tip the hardworking waiters and our cabin steward very well. We noticed one evening that a waiter on the cruise we were on in September was in the same dining room. When we made ourselves known to him he remembered us and asked about the others on our table, there were ten of us that time, and he even remembered some of their names. Each morning at breakfast he would come to look for us and ask how my ankle was. We also saw the same wine waitress who remembered us and was thrilled to see us. I am surprised to see that some of the critics have said they find the crew bad mannered and unhelpful, but we have always found them to be very good and have had no complaints whatsoever. Someone said that they thought 4 formal nights was too much, but I would like more, as I love to dress up!! We can't wait for our next cruise, which will be in 2013. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
It was the first ever cruise I have been on and it sure wont be the last, to say we had the time of our lives is an understatement. Me and my (now) wife decided on this cruise as we wanted to get married abroad - to anyone thinking the ... Read More
It was the first ever cruise I have been on and it sure wont be the last, to say we had the time of our lives is an understatement. Me and my (now) wife decided on this cruise as we wanted to get married abroad - to anyone thinking the same I urge you to do this, it was the dream wedding for us. We travelled with our 2 kids and and 2 relatives who are seasoned cruisers, as the title states you feel like royalty. nothing is a problem and the staff and crew bend over backwards to make sure you are comfortable and having a great time. Every day we went back to our cabin there was a treat for us (wedding VIP)from horderves to champagne and sweets we must have had about 5 bottles of champagne given to us throughout the 2 weeks. The kids clubs are that good that I almost forgot I had children and it wasn't because we were palming them off onto the kids supervisors all the time, its because they were having that much fun (magicians, parties, pool games etc, etc) they didn't want us cramping their style - this gave us some nice relaxation time in the sun. The shows are first class although the ship is that big we didn't know much about them til the second week but it was the type of show you would pay decent money for in UK theatres. I really could go on and on but i'm going to say one thing - BOOK IT you wont regret it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled ... Read More
We flew out from M/C on Sat 3 Dec to Barbados without a hitch which is more than can be said for earlier flights on Fri and those from Gatwick who seemed to have major problems and delays. Embarkation was no problem at all and handled well. we didn't pre book seats and luckily my ife sat directly behind me so it wasn't a problem. Not sure its worth the £50 expense for the benefit Impressed with Ventura overall, although now showing a few rough edges to common areas. Balcony Stateroom was excellent in terms of quality and comfort. Sharon our steward was also very good and we got to know her quite well. Appears to be more bars, clubs, venues on board in comparison to say Celebrity Eclipse. Very good onboard drinks prices and like the fact prices are GBP without added tax etc. Overall v good entertainment - Headliners brilliant + Freddy Mercury tribute + Fogwell Flax as Sting +. Rest much of a muchness but still above working mens club standard. We chose freedom dining which was a great choice whether you wanted to share tables or be on a 2. We used White Room to celebrate wife's birthday....excellent. Also used Ramblas which was good but menu options a bit restrictive. Food quality and choice in main dining room very good but you had to be careful about combinations as sometimes you didn't get what you expected. Buffet breakfasts and lunch OK so slong as you could work out which restaurant was open when. Bit a bun fight due to high volume of diners on occasions especially port days..not to be unexpected. Biggest criticism was with passengers adopting typical sunshine/hotel mentality of sunbed booking at ridiculous times of the day. I'll swear towels were out at the crack of dawn on sea days with nobody in site other than a towel and a book. Hence not enough sunbeds or a quicker turnround of beds. By the end of the cruise you could see more and more passengers getting frustrated. Overall, brilliant experience and would have no hesitation on sailing with PO again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and I don't think we could have had a better introduction. Our balcony cabin was on A (12) deck midships. It was very quiet and comfortable, and the steward kept it supplied with clean towels and tea and biscuits. The balcony was great to relax on and watch the islands as we sailed away or to watch the sunset. It did not take long to get orientated on the ship. Its best to get to the right lifts before getting to the deck you want, and the carpets are colour coded for forward, midships and aft. We opted for freedom dining which worked well for getting to the shows. If you wanted to get seated straight away then you shared a table, otherwise there was a wait of no more than 30 mins to get a table for two. We also ate at the Beach House diner, Waterside buffet and Frankies grill. Breakfasts we had in Saffron,and we had room service twice. On every occasion the food was nice and service friendly. There are plenty of places to have a drink, so its down to what your preference is. We used the Metropolis most, as it was quiet and had good views. Prices are reasonable but cheap booze can be had at most ports of call. There was plenty of entertainment to pick from. We loved the Headliners shows, as did everyone. These were a medley of song and dance numbers with a different theme for seven shows. They received a much deserved standing ovation on the last night. We also saw an Elvis tribute act (a serious one, i.e. no sideburns or jumpsuit), and a cabaret singer, these were good too. Note: we always arrived early for these shows to get a good seat, this is where the freedom dining paid off. These were the shows we saw, but there was plenty of other things going on to suit all tastes, I think you would struggle to be bored on board. There are four pools to chose from, I used the one at the front near the spa. It was mostly quiet, and has a current that you can swim against. The main reason for doing this cruise was to sample several islands, rather than be confined to one, so we were apprehensive about the formal nights on sea days. We managed three out of four, the last one we went smart casual and ate at the Beach house diner and watched a show at the Havana. We've not made our minds up about the formal dress code, if we cruise again it would not be an important factor in our choice. Lastly the journey to the ship from Gatwick was fairly painless, as much as an 8 hour flight can be in cattle class. It was nice to get the luggage delivered to the cabin. Getting through security at the port was OK, especially as we bypassed the queue for the embarkation photo. However going home was a chore as the Thomas Cook flight was 2 hours late, then delayed a further 3 hours due to a technical fault. Still, better than some who had to be put in hotels overnight due to a cancelled flight. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as ... Read More
This was our second time on Ventura - the last one was the infamous Christmas cruise in 2008. We'd been on Azura for a month at Christmas and New Year 2010, and as Ventura is the same layout as Azura we knew our way around as soon as we got on board. Thomas Cook flight from Manchester was delayed for 2 hours due to Manchester Airport closing because of a 30 minute snow flurry (yes,this is the UK). Otherwise flight fine and we were on the ship by 4pm. We had a portside balcony cabin towards the aft and this suited us fine. Plenty of storage space, comfy beds and kept clean by our cabin steward, Freddie (although the carpet could have done with the vacuum edging tool being taken around the edges by the skirting - don't think this had been done since the ship was launched). Generally the ship was clean enough and to my knowledge no one got ill from the dreaded norovirus. However, carpets in the public areas are showing signs of wear and tear with raised edges just waiting to trip someone up. This was particularly noticeable on deck 7. Also 2 people to my knowledge slipped on the floor by the main pool - one breaking her arm 2 days from the end of the cruise. So beware if you are moving around in this area. We were freedom dining. This works very well for us and we never had to wait for a table as we were always prepared to share a table - usually 6 or 8 people. The food in the Cinnamon restaurant varied from excellent to dire but the vast majority of our meals were fine. Christmas dinner was excellent, New Year's Eve dinner not quite so good. Waiter service was brisk and usually friendly and they hardly ever forgot who was having which meal. There are some cut-backs, like the "always available list" has gone although you could still ask for a steak and get it - just that if it is not advertised people don't ask for it. Also vegetables seemed restricted unless you asked for more. We didn't starve anyway. We ate in The White Room twice which was excellent - on New Years Day the menu was fixed with the appropriate wine for each course. We ate in the Beach House Diner 3 times and it was always excellent and the service also excellent. We ate once in Ramblas. This was surprisingly filling food - we could not finish the main course. We did not eat in East this time as on our previous trip on the ship we found the food good on quality but lacking on quantity. We had breakfast in the Beach House buffet which was fine - the fresh fruit being particularly nice. I had lunch in the Waterside which I always found to be very good, whether hot or cold, and the dishes varied every day. Used plates etc were cleared away promptly by the staff who I always found to be pleasant and friendly. The afternoon tea in the Waterside is everyone's downfall, the mini wraps being especially good, likewise the mince pies and Christmas cake (yum yum). Ventura now operates a system where you can buy bottles of spirits from the duty free shop on board for excellent prices (not worth getting it at Manchester airport). You can drink these spirits in your cabin and order a mixers package if you want. Otherwise we thought the wines on the ship were poor and sometimes impossible to get. For example, on our 1st 2 nights we went to Ramblas for a pre-dinner drink. Out of the 5 red wines on their bar list, 2 were not on the ship and were not expected to be on the ship for the duration of the cruise. We stopped drinking wine about 2 weeks into the trip and drank other things instead. Otherwise there is a good variety of drinks and prices of drinks are very reasonable and there is no 15% service charge added to your bill - compare this to RCI, Cunard, Celebrity, etc etc and see which is best price. We preferred the Glasshouse on the Azura to Ramblas as the Glasshouse offers a range of wines from different countries whereas Ramblas is Spanish only. The entertainment was patchy. We are not shows people and therefore were not bothered about going to the theatre (we got there once) but we do like going to see an act in, say the Havana or Tamarind club. These acts varied from downright dire to very good. However on occasions there was virtually no entertainment going on at certain times - for instance nothing on in the Tamarind at 8.30 was not uncommon. For the first week of the cruise, there was a pianist in the Red Bar between 6pm and 6.30pm. He disappeared after the first week. When we were on the ship in 2008, there was pianist in the Metropolis bar in the evenings - not this time. The piano was there but no pianist. This made the bar lifeless. Other cutbacks were evident - this is the first Caribbean cruise we have been on where there was no steel band or reggae band for the duration of the cruise. There was a steel band when the ship was in Barbados but they disappeared when the ship sailed. When we were in St Lucia the first time (we visited here twice in the month), the cruise director announced he had managed to get a steel band for the afternoon - big deal. P&O also seem to think that they can provide entertainment courtesy of the passengers - the passengers' choir - which was for Christmas Day only on the Azura - was utilized on several occasions, which meant that the participants sometimes had to juggle their evening meals to fit in with the performances. Ventura operates a 2 tier dress code - black tie and "Evening casual". The latter is supposed to make it clearer for what people can wear. It had the opposite effect and there was a lot of grumbling amongst passengers about the state of some people's dress - I would not have worn some of the stuff to go shopping at Tesco. Of course you will always get a small number of people who think it is smart to ignore the black tie dress code and turn up in jeans, polo shirts etc for dinner. One evening, the barman reminded a male passenger that it was black tie for evening. The barman was totally ignored. I don't know why these people go on ships which have the black tie code - why don't they go on NCL or Carnival? We spent lazy days on deck 19 -the old Cirque deck but now without the bungee which means there is now a lot more room up there for sunbeds. We hardly got off the ship as we had been to all the islands before. The weather throughout was marvellous - just a couple of half days of rain and one day which was dull in all 28 days. You could not have asked for better. We had a lovely cruise and would not have any hesitation about going on Ventura again. Of course, there was a fair share of moaners - just like on any ship but the funniest one I heard was a lady in front of me at the Waterwide lunch buffet who complained that the knives and forks were too heavy and could she have some which were lighter. It was very hard not to laugh. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. ... Read More
We flew out to Ventura on the 31st Dec in time for New Years Eve. We were on her previously last Christmas and also in May 2011. We had yet another very enjoyable cruise. We were a couple of 45 and 50 with my sister of 50 and my Mum of 76. Overall we had a superb cruise. Ventura does most things well. Its a reliable cruise experience and is relatively good value. We booked at only 1 months notice and got a great deal. The ports were mostly great. We didnt take any excursions as Mum need a wheelchair where walking distances is required but still enojoyed our jaunts ashore. Our favourites were St Maartin and Grenada. Having been on here three times in 13 months we did notice some differences. None of these spoilt the cruise but for regular passengers on her it may be worth nothing the following: Showtimes On previous trips on Ventura and Azura, the evening show in the main theatre usually had three performances at approx 7pm, 8.30pm and 10.30pm. This allowed a choice of performance for any club sitting passengers. Those on first sitting could choose the 8.30 or 10.30 show and those on second sitting could choose the 7 or 10.30 show. You could also coordinate it to fit in the a performance in Havanna or Tamerind. However, things had changed on this trip. The theatre only had two performances, 8.30 and 10.30. This doesnt affect those on first sitting so much but if you are on second sitting you only have the option of the last showtime. It also means you cannot get to fit in a performance in Havanna as well as the start times clash with those in the main theatre. Its a bit of a double whammy for second sitters and also meant those on freedom dining may have needed to be more selective in their choice of dining times in order to fit in performances. Also as there was one less theatre show per evening the others were much busier. One one evening, we finished our second sitting meal at 9.50, went straight to Havanna for a 10.30 act and there were no seats left. We walked though to the theatre and again could not get in so no entertainment for us that night. We chose second sitting based on our previous experiences so we could see an early show, have dinner and then take in an act in Havanna or Tamerind alas this was not possible on this trip. As we had seen many of the shows and acts previously this did not impact on us as greatly as it may impact on others but it is a major change to the way in which the evening entertainment is scheduled and I overheard others complaining. I did get to speak to one of the entertainment team about this and they advised that as this 2 week cruise included a lot of people who had opted to take the 1 month cruise they decided they would not need three shows per night for our 2 weeks. I pointed out how it affected us and others particularly those on 2nd sitting and she advised she had just come off Azura and had found the 7 o'clock show to be quiet and therefore it was better to concentrate people into two shows per evening. I hope this is not permanent change they implement. The theatre holds 700 for a ship of 3000+ passengers and therefore only two performances isnt good enough. Feedback from the forum seems to suggest P&O have done this before on Azura which is a little worrying. Drinks prices Some prices have risen. For example in Dec 2010 a pint of Stella was $2.95. It is now $3.50, a rise of 18%. You could previously buy a litre caraffe of house wine in the MDR for $11.95. This has now gone and house wine is in 75cl bottles at $12.95. Thats a rise of 50%. Other drink prices have also risen incl some cocktails but these are the prices I noticed as they are the ones we have previously partaken of. Bottled water too has risen in price. Now P&O still have good value drink prices however such sharp price rises appear to be more than simply reflecting inflation and may hint at a subtle change in direction for P&O onboard pricing. Menus This was the first time we have experienced the new menus in the MDR. The changes are not enourmous. As has already been reported the 'always available' Chicken, Salmon and Steak options have gone. As has the prawn cocktail, unpublished, but always available starter. We found the choice of starters a little more difficult than previously. Many were simply trying to be too fancy and we did find we were trying them but leaving our choices more than previously.The soups however were extremely good and better than before. There is extra choice in the mains sections which now usually features a from the grill section and/or local produce option dependant on your port of call. Also the veg served seperately has been reduced from three to two options but this is still plenty. Fish appears much more frequently, in fact on one evening fish formed 3 of the 7 options. Two of our party love fish so this pleased them however it has to be said the fish portions were very small but nicely cooked. For those who dont like fish their choices have been reduced. We did crave a simple steak or piece of salmon from the always available section on occassion and it is a shame this has been dropped (we did find out half way through that the chicken option remains always available but I am unsure why given that its not mentioned anywhere and only offered when we enquired). This was the first time we had moved from freedom dining to club dining and our views of the service we had previously received in freedom dining have been reinforced. The service in club was far better: much more personable, friendly and attentive and at the end of the two weeks we definately thought they had earned their tips. We had a great rapport with our waiters and they got to know our preferences. Our previous views of the service in freedom dining have been that it was mostly functional but hardly warm and friendly and had been occassionally disorganised with widely varying meal durations. We had tried it on Azura once and twice on Ventura and had the same experience each time and having now had the comparison of the service levels in club dining it is clear that the waiters in club work for their tips. It will be interesting to see if standards in club slip once the tips start being automatically added to passengers onboard accounts this year. Our waiter in Club had actually been our waiter in Freedom dining twice in May last year and the difference in his level of service was so visible. I have to mention that for the second time in a year we experienced Huey Taylor as Cruise Director. I hate to pick someone out personally but this role has a huge impact on passenger enjoyment and on how they view the connection between the cruise company and themselves and unfortunately Huey just doesnt suit Ventura at all. He was uttely invisiable apart from daily lacklustre announcements reading out the contents of Horizon. He appears to delegate everything to his team (who are excellent) and I really cannot understand why he is in this role on this size of vessel. A CD needs to inject enthusiasm but he lacks any connection with passengers. What is it with P&O and cruise director role? Surely there are better in the ranks who would jump at the chance to bring some enthusiasm to this job? Anyway, despite the differences noticed between this and previous cruises, we loved out New Year cruise and would not hesitate to chose Ventura again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had ... Read More
Bonded luggage meant that we left Gatwick and didn't see luggage again until the cabin. Even taken from plane direct to port - very good. Not experienced that before. Was a little worried about the Thomas Cook flight P & O had chartered, but it was absolutely fine. We were really well looked after, and had plenty to drink. We had paid extra for extra legroom, and that was nice as we are tall. Boarded the Ventura with ease and were shown around our cabin by our lovely friendly steward. The room was just lovely with champagne, chocolates,fresh flowers all waiting for our arrival. The tea/coffee making selection was replaced twice a day, and having that early morning cup of tea was a big bonus for me. Mind you, even if it wouldn't have been there, room service was SO efficient and always arrived bang on time. We ordered room service several times when we were on sea days and then it made it a nice leisurely start to the day. It's free, but we would give a tip to the waiter. We usually asked our steward for the ice bucket to be ready for us on return to the cabin in the afternoons and then we could have a nice cold drink on the balcony. He was very good at remembering we wanted that. We chose freedom dining (we always do) and that worked really well. Either we could chose to dine on a table for two, and maybe wait with a pager for a little while, or join others, and then you would normally be seated immediately. We mainly used the main waiter service restaurants, as we don't really like buffet, but food was good there on the odd occasion we ate there. We dined in the White Room on our Ruby Anniversary, and that was superb. It was a formal evening also, so everyone was dressed up, and the atmosphere was really good in that restaurant. Also we dined in Ramblas and East, and both were exceptionally good. All come with cover charge, but really worth a try for a special meal. Wine packages were available, and we actually used our onboard spend to pay for those. It does make the wine cheaper to purchase the package, but then P&O prices are pretty good against other cruise lines. On the subject of alcohol P&O allow you to take it onboard (other cruise lines don't), which meant that as the ship sailed away, then we could sit on our balcony and have a pre dinner drink....or two! The shows were about the best we had seen on any of our cruises. Ventura seem to have a very good song and dance team onboard. Shows were usually twice a night (sometimes three) so you could fit in your meal around them. Unfortunately, we couldn't dock at Grand Turk. The captain tried, and circled 3 times, but wind speeds were too high to make it safe (think Easterly force 7). Having said that, we couldn't feel a thing onboard. The Ventura seemed to cope with the all that very well. Now, recently having heard about the Costa ship, maybe he made a very sensible decision. Had a fabulous sail away from Antigua, with everyone on P&O waving union jacks at the Princess sistership opposite us, and singing all the songs like Land of Hope and Glory. From our balcony we could see that everyone on top deck had them and their voices were booming out. Not sure what the other ships thought of us, but it was one of those 'proud to be British moments'. Well, all I can say is don't listen to people moaning, and just enjoy all that the Ventura has to offer. You certainly won't be bored. This cruise was just lovely, and we met many friendly people at the meal tables and had lots of fun. If there is anything that is perhaps a slight negative, I would say that the Indian staff aren't anyway near so friendly as the Phillipino staff we have encountered on other cruise lines. Don't get me wrong - they all did a splendid, efficient job, but there was no laughing or joking with any of them, well except for our room steward. I think they were just too busy with their jobs. Sadly, after a lovely cruise, we had to leave for home (had heard news of snow in UK!). Then oops! our plane developed a problem with its nose wheel, and after hours of trying to fix it, the captain gave up hope and got us off the plane. Now this is where I take my hat off to P & O again. As soon as they got their staff into position, and the terrible chaos at the airport was sorted (staff didn't realise what was happening), we were all escorted to coaches which took us to beach front hotels in Barbados, given meals, and then picked up the following day. I had visions of sleeping in the airport all night, but no. Thank you P&O - good job done. Couldn't have been easy to get 300 odd passengers sorted into hotels etc at short notice. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from our wonderful cruise on Ventura, along with our best friends who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise, all of us and we certainly choose the right ship and destination. The Caribbean is beautiful at this time of year, temps never dropping below 80degrees. Yes, we had some rain, lovely refreshing, warm rain. It didn't spoil a thing because it never lasted long and was quite a welcome break from the hot sunshine. Mostly the weather was great. As for the ship...Ventura is a real beauty. The staff on board are faultless, apart from one sour faced beauty therapist who looked as though she really didn't want to be there and I cant think for the life of me why! The cabin staff, waiting staff, shops, restaurant, reception etc. etc. were so helpful and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for anyone and from the minute we left our bags with check in a Gatwick to the moment we picked them up on our return, our every whim was catered for and we didn't have to think about a thing. Check in on board was very fast and smooth. There was constant food and drink 24/7, more or less whatever you wanted. The entertainment was great. We saw 4 or 5 shows put on by the 'Headliners' Theatre Company, a very talented group of young singers and dancers who seem to have endless energy and never stop smiling whether they are on or off stage. If I had to pick fault with anything, it would be the fact that despite the daily sheet given to each cabin which contains information about that evenings dress code, there were several passengers who on formal nights, still wondered around in shorts, football shirts and flip flops!! we did go to reception and asked why this was allowed to happen and were told that 97% of passengers comply, but sometimes the other 3% complain about formal nights...... well don't go on a cruise with P&O is my response to that one, go with a company like Ocean Village who are a casual cruise line, don't spoil it for others who like to get dressed up as a part of the cruise experience. I do think that the dress code should be adhered to and that people should be asked to dress according to that nights code. There are only 4 formal nights on a 14 night cruise so if you don't want to dress up that's fine, but at least don't wonder amongst the people who do wearing your Man U top. I'm as down to earth as they come, but loved to dress up and feel special, as at home, we don't get to do it very often. The food in the main dining rooms was 'ok' but up in the Beach House Restaurant, it was fabulous, so we ended up eating up there whenever the queue wasn't too long, as most people seemed to find the same, the quality was better. We were sometimes given a pager to be called when the table was ready as they were busy, but it was no problem, plenty of places for pre-dinner drinks and it never took very long anyway. All in all, we cant wait to go back again, it was smooth, flawless and all credit to P&O for their attention to detail. Thank You P&O. We're coming back!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from ... Read More
We tried our first cruise last year from Dubai with Royal Caribbean. We were unsure if we liked it or not, so tried P&O this year, Transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton. We booked late and got a great deal. Had to fly from Manchester, but only 2 hours away. The Thomson flight was fine. left early, arrived on time. Bus to Ship from the bottom of plane steps (great)direct tothe port. Registration in no time, very efficient. (by-passed the photographer!) Found cabin which was excellent (twice the size of last years BOS balcony cabin!) Savio, our Steward, led us in and explained everything to us, he was excellent the whole cruise. We downed our Champagne and chose the Buffet and an early night. Surprise 1 - Last year a bottle of wine started at $40 this year £9 for house white, everything else normal pub prices. The buffet was good and fresh/warm. Yes there are 3000 passengers, but Ventura is a big ship, and you can find a quiet bar (10 to choose from)and somewhere to sit/lay, We never bothered round the pools, as it wasn't worth the hastle, but there are many places to relax, from comfortable chairs on the Promenade deck 7 to beds always available over the Spa at the front (adult only!) Children were not a problem, only 126 on board, and never caused us any heartache.3 Islands 3 days in the Caribbean then 5 days to cross the Atlantic to Tenerife then 3 days to Southampton. Too many sea-days, we got a little bored. There are activities throughout the day, but we stuck to relaxing in the sun and the Spa.Everyone was so friendly on board both Crew and Passengers. Some passengers left a little to be desired and surprised us but hey they paid for their holiday the same as everyone else and so they have the same rights.We ate in every restaurant (9 but 3 formal/allocated ones, so 7 to choose from)Whites was superb, as was the Asian one, East and Ramblas (Spanish) The Bay House was turned into an American diner each night and the buffet had a theme night each night (all good)in fact the food was excellent everywhere.We enjoyed the evening entertainment and went nightly to the TheatreNegatives - The 4 formal evenings became tiresome, and the photographers also everywhere, but looking at the queues waiting for their picture proves there is a need both to dress up and have their photo's taken, so who are we to complain!and we could avoid them. It is a big ship, you could meet someone at lunchtime, and never see them again! likewise the entertainment bars could not cope with demand. If there was a good entertainer on you had to go early for a seat. As said before Sea days became boring, but we just did not appreciate the distance across the Atlantic at 19knotsOverall, much better this year. I fear over capacity will lead to more last minute "deals" and attract the wrong clientele. We will have another go, but either a smaller ship, or a larger with less passengers Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Just back from 2 week cruise on Ventura.Our flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were excellent.Complimentary drinks,food and toiletries and good choice of films.Arrival in Barbados and onto ship was so well organised.Waited around 2 ... Read More
Just back from 2 week cruise on Ventura.Our flights from Manchester with Thomas Cook were excellent.Complimentary drinks,food and toiletries and good choice of films.Arrival in Barbados and onto ship was so well organised.Waited around 2 hours for cases to arrive so used the time to look around the ship-and what a ship!! It was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to but we were very impressed.We had an inside room which was lovely,mirrors all around gave it a good sense of space.Compact bathroom,powerful shower and loads of white towels. A kind of walk in wardrobe with shelf space and electronic safe.The cabin guy Ronald was great and kept everything clean and tidy.We had no problem at all with kids running around or making noise (there were 250 on our cruise!).The thing about this ship is that its big enough to get away from the noise-which leads me to the great sunbed debate!! Yes-there is a shortage of them around the pools which is where all the noise and kids hang out,but if you just use your legs and walk a bit further there are loads of beds scattered around.We are total sun-worshippers and never had a problem in 2 weeks at all.Entertainment had good and bad points but its not the thing we go on holiday for really.The food was very nice and there was something for everyone. Ate in Baytree at night and were very impressed with the waiter service-always with a smile. Now for our (only!) dislikes. The first 2 ports of call (Bonnaire and Aruba) were stunning,friendly and welcoming. It went downhill from there! Jamaica next,nightmare! We could see a lovely beach from the ship and thought we'd have a nice stroll and a couple of hours on it. From leaving the gate of the port we had nothing but hassle,often abusive.Payed few dollars to get on beach and still hounded every few minutes,necklaces,aloe vera, bars, jet-skis-just won't leave you alone.I know they rely on tourism for their livelihood but this high-pressure salesmanship is surly putting tourists off? Couldn't wait to get back to the safety of the ship where we heard lots of other stories about harassment-even those on organised trips. St Lucia was just as bad.Grand Turk and St Maarten no problem,Dominica a waste of time. I would definitely recommend Ventura-we had a really fantastic holiday, i would just be wary about which Islands you visit Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2011
Just returned from a fortnight on board Ventura. Must admit I was a little concerned about some of the mixed reviews. Should not have been, ship was lovely, staff were friendly, helpful and always smiling and the food was fab. We mainly ... Read More
Just returned from a fortnight on board Ventura. Must admit I was a little concerned about some of the mixed reviews. Should not have been, ship was lovely, staff were friendly, helpful and always smiling and the food was fab. We mainly ate at the 6.30 sitting for evening meal - food was lovely throughout and the service very attentive (Sherif and Hemanth). Neither myself or my husband found anything to complain about - we both cook so can be a bit fussy about the quality of food presented. The wine waiter was also attentive and informative. We only ate at the 'buffet' for lunch twice and again were impressed with the food. Buffet breakfast was good too but we preferred the waiter service. All in all the food and standard of service was very good. Couldn't fault the cabin or our steward (Senim) who looked after us well. There was lots of entertainment, the highlights for us were 'Freddie Mercury', Soul Connection and the Irish comedian whose name I forget. We did have a 5 hour delay going home but the reception staff were really helpful and smiling despite the pressure this put them under. Would definitely cruise with P&O again. Read Less
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 3.4
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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