All crew work tirelessly to look after you, are polite not over familiar. We weren't hassled at all to buy drinks or use the specialist restaurants . No pressure to go on excursions. The ship was clean tidy with a great emphasis on hygiene, gel dispensers outside restaurants and on returning on board in ports.
Food was excellent, you could eat morning noon afternoon evening and think there was late buffet if you were greedy enough. Apparently you gain average of 7-10lb, well if you eat at every opportunity its possible. We were sensible ate when hungry only gained couple of lbs. Spa on board, bit pricey but if you are into all that, and its something to do maybe first and last day at sea when the sun doesn't shine.
Entertainment overall very good, different acts singers, groups comedian's, good range to suit different tastes. Cash free environment. You have a card to purchase everything on board and can keep a check on interactive TV on how much your accumulative bill is.
Loved the atmosphere of the sail away as we left each port, and were fortunate enough to see Brittania leaving Lisbon on her way home as we left for the canaries'.
Will definitely cruise again. You can do as much or as little as you want!
Lessons learnt...warmer clothes for first and last days at sea.
Travel operator: Co-op
Travel operator: Thomas cook
We have found cruise entertainment to be generally of high quality but this is clearly where P&O cut costs. Very little entertainment during the day and the quality and choice in the evening was not much better. On one evening the entertainment was a film, yes that's correct, a film. On another day it was a Dusty Springfield tribute who later in the week returned as a Lulu tribute. She bore no comparison to either. To set a comparison the entertainment was at a level that would expect from a local town talent show.
I have been raving about the holiday since getting back home and have told friends and family and whoever else would listen that cruising is the life. Thank you P&O.
Dress Codes are now ignored with people without shirts regularly ignored by Crew in Self Service Restaurants. Has anybody considered that a dress code requiring a shirt in a restaurant might actually have something to do with hygiene? I don't suppose for a minute that chefs are excused whites in the kitchens and are therefore allowed to drip sweat over food. Why then should a customer be allowed to visit the buffets without a shirt?
Claims in the brochure about Ventura having places where you can find peace and relaxation are simply untrue unless you retreat to your cabin. Firstly Agadoo type music is played all day on the top decks at such a high volume that it is difficult to talk and impossible to ignore. Secondly, you are hounded by up selling as soon as you sit down. Previously, the restaurants that require a supplement to be paid, were only sold by crew outside of these restaurants, now crew are patrolling the decks all day approaching customers that are attempting to relax quietly. On top of this drinks stewards are noticeably more pro-active sometimes approaching you before your empty glass even touches the table, and photographers approaching you three times as you leave the ship in port, within hearing of when you politely refused their colleague. Yes, you could simply say no but we go on holiday to relax and the brochure does claim that this is possible.
This is just a small part of a lengthy complaint that has been sent to P&O.
We booked quite late and could only get an inside cabin which was very nice, plenty of room, clean and comfortable and this is what we would chose next time as it was only a base for sleeping and showering.
The food was good and plentiful and always a good variety, catering for most dietary needs.
The entertainers work tirelessly as do all the staff and we can only commend the politeness of all the P&O staff we met. They are a credit to the Captain and his Senior Crew.
The transfers, embarkation and disembarkation were smooth. We flew on time in a good aircraft all making a perfect holiday experience.
So the moaners who say there is not enough food. How much can you eat?. Those that say the staff are miserable - treat them like equal human beings - it pays dividends.
Finally those that say it is like Butlins but on sea have never been to Butlins and anyway millions of people for many years have enjoyed that type of holiday so don't knock what you have no knowledge of.
In closing I would say that my wife tried for years to get me to try a cruise and based on this experience we have missed out, but not any more as this is the first of many. So our thanks go to the Crew and Staff of the Ventura for a really memorable time.
The good points;
The food was mostly excellent! We dined in the Cinnamon restaurant in the evening as we had excellent service from the friendly and efficient waiters and wine steward. We used the upper deck restaurants for breakfast and lunch, so we could stay dressed casual. The food here was very nice, but not as good as the formal restaurants. We are early risers so we did not find breakfast and lunch much of a busy hassle. The biggest problem at times was finding an empty table, once you had chosen what to eat. Juice is only served at breakfast, chilled water during the rest of the time. Of course there is coffee (very nice) and tea of all flavours served during all hours. I found all savoury dishes tasty, but some of the sweets were a little lack lustre.
We are not wealthy, but found the prices of wine, beer etc, reasonable to that what you would pay at home. Pint of beer £3.50 average, bottle of wine with evening meal £18-£20 and cocktails £5.50. We found the entertainment very good, especially the ventriloquist who was brilliant. All of the waiters around the pool and in the restaurants worked very hard and always there to get you a drink or take away dirty plates and glasses.
I found all of the guests, from all walks of life to be very friendly and respectable. We try our best not to be judgemental with other people and as such we found everyone friendly and easy to talk to. I just do not understand some people who deem to judge other people because of their appearance and who just seem to nit-pick at every minor point. If you want friendly and respectable company to accompany a family friendly cruise, the Ventura is for you. If you prefer a ship that is more geared to formality and peace and quiet, then maybe choose a smaller and a more expensive ship.
We visited Sorrento on the trip to the farm (we were the last to get on the trip). Well worth it and Sorrento is so picturesque. We did not pay for the excursion to Dubrovnik, just paid for the shuttle bus to get us there. It's a small town you can explore easily yourself. This is well worth visiting and for Game of Thrones fans, there is a guided tour showing you the locations of some scenes. Finally, Venice is a must and I was very pleased to manage to get places for this visit that included a ride on a gondola. However, it would have been much cheaper to just pay for the shuttle boat to get you onto land and make your own way around. As we entered St. Marks square, the bells began to ring and it was just magical. This is a memory that will stay with us forever.
Tips for a better cruise;
We had to wait a few hours for our luggage to be delivered to our cabin once on board, about 2-3 hours. Our cabin steward helped and brought them to us within half of an hour of asking him to find them. We will remember to pack our bathing costumes in our hand luggage next time, along with a few toiletries.
We struggled to get onto some of the excursions as we had not pre-booked online before the holiday. Florence and Pizza were completely sold out. We could have tried to make our own way, but Florence was over an hour away and we were a little nervous of getting back in time for the ships departure so we stayed on board. However, it was very relaxing during the day and plenty of room to relax and explore the ship.
We had an internal cabin, which was adequate with just enough room for the 3 of us. However I think we would get a bigger room for a 2 week cruise. We actually saved approx £500 in one week booking an internal cabin instead of getting a balcony and a bigger room, which we were pleased with. If you are booking a balcony room, ensure that it is not overlooked and a higher deck would give you better views. We were on the Riviera deck near the top of the ship, which was great as we were near the pool decks. Our cabin steward Angelo was very friendly and nothing was too much trouble.
Our extras including drinks, photos and excursions etc. came to approx £650 in one week. We only had 1 bottle of wine with our evening meal so we didn't bother with the drinks package and we had the benefit of ordering what wine, spirits or beer etc we wanted without sticking to a pre-ordered package. I think when you buy a package deal with wine, drinks ice cream etc it just makes to drink more.
Finally during the days at sea the pool area is naturally very congested. Get up early to get a bed near the pool or you will struggle. Yes the beds are placed close together, but they are comfortable and big enough for you not to be touching your neighbour. We slept in one day and found no beds by the pool, but an older couple near us gave up some of their beds that they were saving for the kids, which I thought was a very kind gesture. People do place towels on the beds, but the ships rules state that you can remove them if you wish.
I think my wife and I would like to cruise again as it is our silver wedding anniversary next year.
Your food was almost thrown at you. On the Gala night there was nothing on the menu I liked, on the first night we arrived we were told left hand side of menu was the same each night and the right hand side changes each night, but they forgot to say apart from Gala night. I told the waiter there was nothing I liked and could they cook me something easy from the kitchen to which I was told no. I asked to speak to the restaurant manger and again was told no we cannot cook you anything different, you can either use room service or go in self service restaurant. The problem was we were all dressed up in our posh frocks and suits, why would we want to sit around a plastic table with a tray and I was on two crutches so how would I get my food. I had nothing to eat that night. Also having paid a lot of money for the holiday why would I want to pay for room service and sit in my room and eat alone.
One night I saw cockroaches running around, another night half way thought eating my meal I moved my steak to find a human hair under it, I told the waiter and he never even offered me another meal, so that was now two nights I went hungry. Shall I go back with P&O, I don't think so, will I recommend them..I don't think so.
It is up to you make your own mind up but this has put me off using their company again as I felt they just did not care about my situation one bit. I wrote to P&O and the letter came back with it is not unusual to find a hair in your food it could happen anywhere, and it is right we do not offer alternative food on the Gala night. This is why I wrote this on here just to let you know before you go what you can expect.
Next was Olden docked within easy walking distance of shops took the road train for a 1hr tour of the area at a cost of about £12 each good value we thought. Our next stop was Olden, not much to say about this as it was raining so it was just a quick walk around the town and back to the ship for a dip in the covered pool for our granddaughter.
Stavanger was our last port of call docked right in the centre of town if you can believe that. We didn't do any paid trips on this cruise as it was just to be a relaxing break. The ship is excellent, plenty to do for everyone there was 4 adults and one 8year old girl, she was thoroughly entertained by the kids club for the whole week.
The food and cleanliness throughout the ship was 1st class, we ate at the saffron restaurant for our evening meal and it was truly 5*. The beer prices we feel were quite good £3 for a pint of John Smiths the only thing we thought was a bit expensive was wine at 4.75 a glass. Overall though it was a very good value break.
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