Ventura Cruise ShipP&O Cruises
"Speaking as a ex Merchant Seaman I found the Ventura a wonderful vessel.
Going across the Bay of Biscay in force 12 winds and above I found the ship incredibly stable and amazed at the complaining customers who were upset about the ships really minimal movement during the well foretasted bad weather.
The real plus side was that the Bay Tree was virtually empty and this enabled me to have the other half of the delicious lobster Thermidor that was on the menu that night.
I found the entertainment excellent with Tom O'Connor doing 4 one hour slots my only criticism being the way the venues were used and their capacity woefully inadequate for certain shows.
There was a fantastic choice in eating choice, granted at a premium at some venues, but as the company we had on our 8 person table was so convivial that we only once ate away at the epicurean which was the experience advertised.
Some of the charges on board were a bit over the top especially the photographic department which was charging the old prices that were normal for 35mm film when they were using digital now and ink jet printers which are much slicker and cheaper to use and £75 to visit the bridge and engine room was a joke.
All in all a wonderful cruise to the Canaries and the sunshine."
- Holiday details: Jan 2016, Booked Independently
- Advice: Get to know the ship and talk to your fellow travellers
1 reader found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"We spent New Year 2015/2016 on P&O VENTURA on a 4 day cruise going to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam. And the bad outcome was my fault 100%. Of course the question is “why did I choose P&O ?”. Two main reasons: 1) Never been on it and I just wanted to try and 2) Previous year I was on Queen Victoria on the same type of cruise and itinerary and I was thinking that being under the same corporate umbrella the experience will be more or less the same. On top of that my favorite cabin was not available on QV so I choose Ventura to spend the longest night of the year. BIG MISTAKE ! Why ?
Ventura, which launched in 2008, aimed apparently to transform what many people consider P&O's somewhat stuffy ambiance to one more in tune with the times. The result was a floating pub resembling more a ferry than a cruise liner. As I read, in April 2013, the ship had a multi-million pound makeover including new soft furnishings in the cabins and new carpets throughout but the result is a ferry pretending to be posh and taking you back in ’70 cheap all-inclusive sea side resorts.
Even if a fast track embarkation and a dedicated check-in desk are promised for suites on our arrival in Southampton a “charming lady” sent us in a line shouting that P&O don’t do dedicated check-in….”maybe only for the Cpt”. On disembarkation we were queuing on stairs, in a very well organized chaotic way ignoring any safety rules but having an “intellectual touch” as the queue was passing twice the Art Gallery. Quite happy when we reach the shore !
Ventura has 1,555 cabins, of which 434 are inside, 1,103 are outside and 881 have a balcony. Aiming for the best experience we choose the most expensive cabin on board (£2000/person/4 days) – ORIENTAL SUITE. There are two of this kind on Ventura, side by side on Deck 12 right at the aft of the ship, 742 square feet (with a 216 square foot balcony). And the Penthouse was the first shock on board. The living area and the bedroom were very generous from the living space point of view, with a lot of storage space and big balcony and bathroom. The decor was what made us scream; a lot of unused space, with furniture that reminds me of a ‘70s all-inclusive cheap resort in Spain with some random paintings who seems to come directly from a B&Q sales. When spending a quite afternoon in the living room I had the feeling that the deco was the result of a “choose the ugliest and the cheapest stuff you can find” competition.
According to P&O website a Penthouse includes some “special touches: Butler service, daily canapes, and a Senseo coffee machine with complimentary pods included”. The reality was a little bit different: the coffee machine was replaced with a kettle and the coffee pods with some instant coffee sachets, the daily canapes were randomly selected from the yesterday buffet’s leftovers. The Butler was like a drop of fresh water in the seat: very kind, polite and excellent manners. “Fortunately” his first class service was “well balanced” by the rudest steward I ever meet who has as a main duty to moan every day, sometimes twice a day about almost everything. Even the tip (50 Euros for 4 days) wasn’t good enough for him and he told us off after we had a little cocktail party with some friends in our room.
Looking again at P&O website I can see that is mentioned for Penthouse “a flat screen TV, MP3 compatible music player, an iron and ironing board and trouser press plus White Company amenities”. And again … 25% correct! The TV hand an excellent free movies selection but the system didn’t work most of the time and the “play&pause” option was a non-sense. The music system was indeed Bose (wow, wow, wow!!!!!) but didn’t work (still pretty as a piece of furniture) and the iron was probably recuperated from Titanic after staying on the bottom of the Ocean for couple of decades. Initially I was very happy with the amenities as the 4 bottles (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion) of White Company were a bonus for the cabin. The surprise was that after 2 days when we requested an replacement we were told by the “nice” steward that we are not entitled to get new ones – “only one set per cabin per cruise”. I was checking the P&O website again and didn’t find any information about 2 mandatory showers/cabin/cruise … maybe I missed the page!
P&O’s marketing blurb claims there are 10 restaurants. There aren’t. There are five genuine restaurants (Bay Tree, Cinnamon, Saffron, The White Room, and East); the rest are more casual eateries.
Having a penthouse we were entitled to have our dinner in Cinnamon (Deck 5, midships) on a freestyle basis. No difference in the menu between this restaurant and the main one - Bay Tree and to be honest I don’t believe that Marco Pierre White, the creator of the menu, apparently, will be happy with the “corner pub” style of food or “whatever, I aint bovvered” rushed service style. I think for those who will be brave enough to try P&O in the future and eat in the main restaurants the safest option is a salad and a “eat quick and run” dinner style. I manage to take a photo of the “delicious” petit fours at the end but unfortunately I missed the “alien” lamb served that night. For a company that sells its cruises on The Fine Dining experience. Silver Service has gone, but they won't tell you. Wine waiters have an impossible work load, not leaving their previous duty until they are already required for Dinner Service and then too many tables. It's obvious then that most tables are not even going to get their wine order taken until after they have started eating and most will not get ... their wine until they have started main course. This is far from Fine Dining and nothing like the claims made in the brochure about attention to detail to the whole food and beverage experience. In the Cinnamon the portions were a bit mean - one floret of cauliflower and broccoli as vegetables on one occasion (no opportunity to reach '5-a-day!).
We had dinner twice here and we decided to try our luck in the specialty restaurants. And there was a different story.
Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to be awarded the coveted Michelin star, brought his highly sought-after talent and years of experience to Sindhu, a fine dining restaurant where you can experience modern Indian cuisine with a British twist. Fabulous service, elegant decor and amazing food mad worth it the fee that you pay for dinner there. Dinner menus are changed twice a cruise and are drawn from dishes in Kochhar's Benares Restaurant in London. For starters expect shammi kebab (spiced lamb cakes), jai tarang (pan-fried hand-dived scallops) and gosht ke dhuandhar soole (marinated smoked beef skewers). For mains we had Atul's signature plate of Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken Murgh and cod jai pari which was sublime .And Sindhu was actually the best dinner we had on board.
For New Year Dinner we opted for The Epicurean, positioned right at the back of the ship high up on Deck 17. The former White Room now is an elegant space, with plush carpets and dark furnishings; the menu for kind of imaginative, creative cuisine - molecular gastronomy type - which has style as well as content. The menu presents as traditional but the dishes are re-interpreted for today's modern palates. The New Year dinner, which has a double price than a normal one, included different types of wine with each course and lots of other fun touches: Bloody Mary lollipops to start with a dash of Worcestershire sauce in the center; salt and pepper oyster and jumbo prawn tempura that comes with an artist's 'paint tube' of sweet pimento sauce; a sorbet designed as a tube of lipstick or a 'poached egg' with a 'yolk' of mango and a 'white' of coconut milk. Again a great decision to spend the night there. One of the few drops of style and class on Ventura.
I always believe that cruise entertainment attempt 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. P&O doesn't go in for the huge West End-style productions the big US ships have popularized. Instead, expect British comedy; revue-type shows where the emphasis is on the singing talents of the performer rather than what's going on behind her; and magicians, ventriloquists and tribute acts.
On two evenings the entertainment was a film, yes that's correct, a film. On another day a young artist called Karl Lewis was an Olly Murs (!!!) tribute who later in the week returned as himself. He bore no comparison to either. The band called “The Flyrights” were more interested in “chatting up the chicks and having some booze” than performing on stage.
Havana, the main nightclub and entertainment venue, where movies are sometimes shown, is an activities room by day and a sultry Cuban-inspired club by night, but sight lines are extremely poor from many seats. Lucky the band “Serious Souls” performed time to time there making the venue more attractive.
A video wall in the Cosmopolitan club lounge screens real-time footage of the world’s seven most famous city skylines – Sydney, Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and London but in the evening reminds me a pub in Crawley Friday night.
P&O claims the 785-seat Arena Theater, at the front of the ship and spanning two decks, is the largest show lounge aboard a UK-based cruise ship but in fact the show lounge aboard Queen Mary 2 is larger, with 1,094 seats, as is the Show lounge aboard Independence of the Seas. But that was the place were we have a surprise. “Destination Dance” was the only real entertainment during our 4 days on Ventura. Excellent choreography and performance, amazing lighting and costume, fantastic choice of music and vocals made this show even better than the same production seen couple days later on Queen Victoria.
But in general to set a comparison the entertainment was at a level that would expect from a local town talent show.
Ventura Fellow Passengers
That’s a very delicate point because, based only on what I experienced on board Ventura between 29th December to 2nd of January, I think P&O build its business model around the crowd on board. Food, entertainment, service style (a lot of “All right mate ?!” and “Cheers mate !” in the staff vocabulary) are created for fans of “let’s get pissed in the pub” kind of fun.
A typical short cruise will have one formal night and the rest will be 'evening casual', which is defined as open necked shirt and 'tailored trousers' or smart jeans for men; dress or casual separates for women. Forget the rules don’t expect something like that on board. Ventura during this New Year Celebration Cruise was an invasion of bad hair extensions, massive fake eyelashes, cocktail dresses two size smaller when the dress code was formal and of course jackets, ties and bow ties removed and abandoned on chairs, sofas or necks after 5 minutes of wearing. Class or style can hardly find a place on corridors or decks full of ladies collapsed on the floor and crying for lost love around 1.00AM, having in one hand a glass with Echo Falls and in the other the shoes. Was like they were filming a new episode of Benidorm on board! By the way Ventura is the first cruise ship where I saw in the buffet an “Enomatic wine dispenser system” … and that’s says all!
Of course reading P&O Facebook page and other sites I realized that P&O and Ventura in particular have a big army of fans. From this point a view P&O scored big time as they created a product for a certain type of market.
However if you look for style, class, service standards, elegance and enchanted experience for sure you have to look somewhere else.
Is nobody to blame….P&O do the right thing for the right market. Was me who booked the cruise! But at the end of the day our journey was part of a learning curve. Fortunately for us after 4 days on board P&O Ventura we board Cunard Queen Victoria for a 7 days cruise. And, like in the L’Oréal advert, that will smooth the wrinkles of Ventura’s experience!
See photos at leonardmiron.com"
- Holiday details: Dec 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Don't book it
Did you find this review helpful? Yes
"Firstly if you read this, DO NOT BOOK WITH P&O.
We booked a New Years cruise due to stop at Brugge and Amsterdam.
The first port stop went as scheduled, the second stop however was a complete disaster, the Captain of the Ventura decided it was to dangerous to take the ship along the canal into Amsterdam as the the winds were deemed to high !!!!!! other ships managed it ?, so was it the weather or the wrong Ship/Captain for the job ?? I suggest both as it happened the previous year as well !!!.
If they new that this was a possibility then why wasn't any contingency plan made to go somewhere else ?. No the contingency was to bob around in the North sea for two and half days, not what we PAYED for !.
So I went to reception seeking some sort of compensation for their failure to supply the holiday that we had booked and paid for....... you guessed it not a sausage not one measly free drink, P&O certainly enjoyed the extra revenue from everyone being held captive on the ship though ?.
On returning home I contacted P&O to ask for a refund on the failed part of our holiday (which was most of it), their response "we don't give refunds" ( not in their terms and conditions) well that's just one more reason not to book with P&O !!, lets see what they do when they get a big fat compensation letter from my solicitor !!!.
Once again DO NOT BOOK WITH P&O."
- Holiday details: Dec 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Don't go
4 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Early Dec 15 cruise to Canaries. P&O seem to try to charge for everything they can get away with. At Christmas Fayre I was handed a punch, started drinking, and then told the cost would be £3.75 or similar. I believe a mince pie MIGHT have been free, but I didn't hang around to find out. Photographers pestering at meals - how many pictures does one really want holding glasses up and smiling on a cruise? And at around £11 each the price is exorbitant! I would like to have had a tour around the ship but they wanted £75 for that! (£150 for two - they must be joking!)
There was an automatic service charge of £5/person/day - £120 for us as a couple for the cruise - levied on day 1. We seriously felt we should challenge this but we felt under a moral obligation and could not pluck up courage to go to reception and complain in front of other passengers. This levy was not made clear in any pre-cruise information (if it was, it must have been in very small print...) It might be that P&O don't pay their staff a good wage so they depend on passengers to supplement their pay through this levy? So the cruise cost more than we bargained for.
Drinks expensive and service slow in the Cinnamon and portions a bit mean - one floret of cauliflower and broccoli as vegetables on one occasion (no opportunity to reach '5-a-day!). Still plenty of food in the buffet! Dirty wine glass (and dirty glass on cabin balcony). Shower tray did not drain away for first few days, then solved itself - perhaps other passengers complained. As a couple we wanted a table for two in restaurants (I guess we are a bit anti-social and not wanting to make idle chit-chat with strangers) but this meant we had to wait for 1/2 hour or so, meaning missing some entertainment on a few occasions. So it was off to the buffet - which was repetitive in variety of food on offer and ALWAYS a gamble as to whether we could find a table for two - again most tables for 4 or 6. Shops impossibly expensive - then offering 50% off on special days - must have made those sick who had paid top whack the day before!
Great entertainment (ignoring whist drives, deck quoits, and the GAMBLING and the, inevitable, football on TV). ELECTRIX group fantastic - Theater Company excellent - Tom Jones tribute a doppelganger. Interesting talks on pop groups of 60s and other subjects. Films 'dropped out' and snowy picture on room TV and color balance too red. Great gym. Embarkation and disembarkation flawless. Staff generally friendly - probably told to say hello and smile on every occasion, but none the worse for that. Very comfortable bed but rather soft pillows.
Having been on cruises with Thompson and Royal Caribbean, I don't think we'll be cruising with P&O in future."
- Holiday details: Dec 2015, Booked Independently
3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Did I go on the same ship as some of these reviews? I wonder? My first time cruise and in the school holidays. The embarkation was a little hectic with a delay but not, I hasten to add, too long. The balcony cabin was fine and the cabin staff excellent. The food in the Saffron and Cinnamon Restaurants was good but the food in the Indian,
Epicurean and Glass House Restaurants was totally 'out of this world'. Entertainment in the Arena was good - not West End stuff but still of a high caliber. The self service Restaurant was not crowded (like some reviewers on here have stated) and the fare was great.
The only complaints I heard were regarding some of the excursions. As we only booked for the "introduction to Rome" excursion I cannot comment on the other numerous excursions which were offered but the Rome experience was phenomenal. The coach hostess and the guide of the Rome tour were sooooo professional. The Gibraltar experience was also great - we paid a local Taxi just £22 each and that included a £10 ticket to the National Park !!! Sensational Value as the driver gave a running commentary all the way around.
All in all the five of us in our party cannot wait to go again !!!"
- Holiday details: Jul 2015, Booked Independently
4 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"I ventured fron Cunard cruising to P and O and the stress of this holiday has made us give up cruising. P and O advertised a romantiv beautiful cruise around Italy. How nieve am I - from the ship you cannot see anything of Italy so you must get off the ship at £99.00 a go. Do it yourself at 70 years plus - no way as each port of call is an industrialised dockyard and no place for elderly holidaymakers. I have asked for some remit from P and O as their description is misleading. Yes the Norweigan Ffords were beautiful and the wild like in Iceland fantastic. REMEMBER research what is in it for you if you cannot leave the ship due to medical problems. Just forget Italy unless you can spend afurther £700 to leave the ship. As for P and O - no sympathy, no apologies and total denial that our rooms were flooded on the Ventura, raw swerage in bathroom. Ventura full of party going customers - not a good holiday . Sailed at night and dockland views all day"
- Holiday details: Aug 2014, booked with Thomas Cook
- Advice: fOR A SOPHISTICATED, WORTHWHILE, elegant, quiet HOLIDAY FORGET VENTURA
- Good For: , Skiing
3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Everybody complaining about this ship clearly expects too much. You can't go somewhere with more than 4000 people and expect not to queue at all. We have been on plenty of different ships with P&O and loved every single one of them. Ventura probably being one of our favorites! All staff we came into contact with were lovely and provided high levels of customer services! Do not regret one bit going on Ventura! This ship is perfect for a family holiday. Our cabin was better than expected, our cabin steward was lovely and always made sure our cabin was clean and tidy. The food was great, queuing times were reasonable, defiantly not poor enough to complain about to the extent a lot of people on here have. I love Ventura and I am returning on it again this year and cannot wait. Couldn't of asked for a better first holiday."
- Holiday details: Jul 2014, Booked Independently
9 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"This was not the first time on this ship but I have to say it has gone down hill most of the staff did not have a clue what they were doing and some were down right rude. There was a lot of queuing it took us 2 and a half hours to get on the ship and they just did not seem organized at all. The entertainment was first class and as it was a Strictly Come Dancing cruise we did have dancers from the show which I did enjoy.
This is not value for money as I was with a friend and we had two single cabins so it was very expensive really and the staff did not give off the living the dream and a lot of the passengers agreed with me and it was the cabin stewards that was the back bone of the staff and were wonderful.
Would I go with P & O again maybe not and when you tell them that they do not care"
- Holiday details: Jun 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Get there early and make sure you get to the entertainment early
2 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"This was our first time on a cruise and were really looking forward to it. We went during the half term holidays and yes expected it to be busy but what we didn't expect was spending four days in horrendous disorganized queues. The whole ship seemed in utter chaos from the moment we boarded at Southampton.
Queues to get on the ship, queues to get off the ship, queues for the buffet, queues for the toilets, queues for the lifts, queues for the entertainment with people spilling out onto the corridors (a tip, get there at least an hour early or you will be disappointed), I wore the soles off my shoes walking round the buffet looking for an empty table. Half the buffet appeared shut at busy periods (madness?!), a complete bun fight for food in the buffet with trays in your back. When you eventually did find a seat low and behold you get up again to get a drink because someone else would be in it.
The food in the saffron restaurant was very disappointing. I'm not a food snob but I've had better meals in my local Wetherspoons. Meat was dry with shriveled peas etc. Not what I expected to be honest. Buffet restaurant food was very much BHS canteen. Really nothing special with very little choice. Scrambled eggs were lovely though....
We were bitterly disappointed with the overall experience. I could go on and on but we felt the only time we could honestly relax was in our cabin (to avoid the queues) and the only memory I will take away with me was queues. Found it very stressful.
It seems to me that if you travel in this ship when it's not fully occupied you may well get a better experience. However when it's full there are just not enough staff and facilities to cope with the amount of people. I've complained to P&O who have batted me off with a "what did you expect it was half term" response and you make your own enjoyment. We are not miserable people but we don't expect to pay the best part of two grand to spend four days queuing. It's not the relaxing "This is The Life" holiday they portray on their website."
- Holiday details: May 2015, Booked Independently
- Advice: Get to the shows as early as possible to get a seat. Avoid avoid avoid the buffet restaurants.
3 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Have just been on a 4 Night Cruise on Ventura and took 2 friends who had not Cruised before, when we initially booked we had an Balcony at the front of the Ship we where then upgraded to Midship and 20 mins before we left home we got upgraded again to a Deluxe cabin which was fantastic and spoilt our friends as we normally have a Basic Balcony, our friends loved the ship although 1 down side was the place where they have the casino and pub like area tends to attract all the rough necks (I am not a snob)but we avoided this area Food was really good in all areas but especially in the East restaurant which you do have to pay extra for but it was well worth, 1 of our friends needs Glutten free food and everyone was really helpful, the Restaurant manager even came to the east restaurant to take our friends order for the next night.
A small problem did occur when we arrived in Amsterdam as we thought we would be staying there all day but we had to leave by 11.30am, this was a little disappointing.
But the major complaint I have with Cruise P & O is we booked well in advance for this holiday and yet nearer the sailing date the cruise could be bought for £100 less instead of upgrading us why didn't P & O give us this reduction."
- Holiday details: May 2015, booked with Bolsover Cruise Club
- Advice: Try out the east restaurant and pay for a Balcony is well worth it
- Good For: , City Breaks
6 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"My husband an I went on Ventura for my birthday treat. .we had already been on the Azura and Oceania and aurora . They were not too bad . The Ventura was awful . The cabin girl was rude and off hand never once smiled and couldn't be bothered although to her advantage she did keep the cabin very clean and tidy . The food wasn't very good most nights . The menu was much the same and certainly not a lot of choice and some of the vegetables were hard and cold . The staff in the restaurants were ok but nothing to write home about . We always do freedom dining as it gives us the flexibility that we like .
The entertainment was very good as in the Headliners in the theater . In fact they were excellent . We saw the girl who pretended to Whitney Houston was dreadful she just shouted and screamed her way through so much so we left after 15 minutes and didn't even sound like her . Gary Barlow was very good as were the The Octaves 4 young men who sang there hearts out . They were excellent . Costa Coffee yet again was awful I placed an order at the counter and selected some cakes and was told to find a table and the drinks would be brought to the table . We waited and waited after 6-7 minutes I asked the waiter where my drinks were and he said in a very loud voice that I hadn't placed the order . He stood behind the counter and argued and was very off hand . When I asked him how I managed to get served with the cakes if I hadn't placed the order he didn't quite know what to say . He should have said I'm very sorry I forgot the order but instead decide to put the blame on me . I must also add I had a similar experience with Costa on the Oceania .
We have already booked to go on the Brittania in September with our daughter and son in law and have fingers crossed that it will be a much better experience .
As for the Ventura . Never never again will we board that ship ."
- Holiday details: May 2015, booked with Bathtravel
5 readers found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
"Booked a short 4 night cruise aboard the Ventura to get a taste.
Found the staff very helpful & Pleasant. Food was to a very good quality and standard.
First port of call should have been St Peters Port, but due to high swells, they were unable to use the Tenders, so had to abandon the stop. The Captain was very informative with regular updates, and we managed to call at La Harve the following day instead.
Comments regarding the smoking are a bit misleading as smoking is only allowed on the Starboard side, of 3 decks, and you can easily use the Port side on the same levels to access all areas.
Formal nights, and dress codes for each evening is made clear over 24hrs in advance, and alternatives are available for those not wishing to participate, including room service.
Not all films are chargeable, if you did decide to stay in your room.
I used the Internet at a seemingly high cost, but was able to use video calling with great success, so £35 for 140 minutes peace of mind, making sure the kids had not burned the house down, was worth it.
I personally only felt the photographs were over priced, but bought a couple, for the memories.
As I say, this was my first cruise, so can not compare to other companies, but I would try P&O again, and would recommend them."
- Holiday details: May 2015, booked with Thomas Cook
1 reader found this review helpful. Did you? Yes
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