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P&O Cruises: Ventura

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Ventura Review

Ventura is one of the largest cruise ships in the P&O Cruises fleet, with 15 decks and maximum passenger capacity of 3,574. Ventura is where you’ll find a spectacular choice of facilities including bars, restaurants, a sports court, spa, and theater. She

also has a number of exciting features that are uniquely hers, ranging from a panoramic video wall in the cool Metropolis bar to an infinity pool, pizzeria, and casino. The family-friendly Ventura also has a well-staffed kids club. In April 2013, a newly refurbished Ventura will have 18 new single cabins, digital technology in the library, a new dance floor, and “Glass House” where TV presenter, wine expert, and newspaper columnist, Olly Smith will host wine tastings and food and wine pairings onboard throughout the year.

P&O’s largest ships are also the best choices for families, with huge areas devoted to facilities for children and teens and a dedicated Wii room and a 20-meter plasma video wall. Although they are nearly identical twins, each has some different facilities both inside and out; however, it’s the outside ones that are most noticeable and make a difference in the cruise experience.

Where Ventura has bungee trampolines and a circus skills training area, Azura has the Retreat, an adults-only sundeck area with its own private terrace with cabanas and loungers. Azura has no cover over its mid-ship swimming pool, unlike Ventura. Instead, Azura has a giant Sea Screen suspended at one end of the pool for movies. Inside, the two ships’ public areas are quite similar, with a more contemporary decor than their older fleetmates and some oddities, such as no chairs for reading in the library.

Since 1937, P&O Cruises (originally the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) has been a force in passenger shipping. Although the company's suggestion that they invented leisure cruising cannot be proven, P&O is assuredly a pioneer of modern cruising. The company acquired Princess Cruises in 1974. P&O then purchased Sitmar Cruises and merged it with Princess in 1988, and the passenger-cruise business—known as P&O Princess—was spun off in 2000.

P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise in the world and remains Britain's leading cruise line, sailing the U.K.'s largest and most modern fleet. The ships are equipped with every traditional big-ship amenity, including swimming pools, stylish restaurants, spas, bars, casinos, theaters, and show rooms.

Seven ships in the P&O fleet offer a diverse range of venues for relaxation and entertainment, including cocktail bars, nightclubs, cinemas, games rooms, and cabaret lounges. Enjoy live bands, dramatic musicals, and deck parties, cabaret singers, comedians, specialty acts, classical recitals, and concerts. Theme evenings include tropical, 1960s and '70s, or Black and White Ball. Other activities include quizzes and panel games, with prizes awarded to winning teams. A select number of itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the evening, or even overnight, in port.

An abundance of balcony and outside cabins on P&O ships ensures that a view to the sea is never far away. Accommodations, from inside cabins to lavish suites, cater to a wide cross section of budgets and tastes. In the interest of passenger health and safety, smoking has been prohibited indoors, including in all cabins and suites and on private balconies. Outdoor smoking venues are published on board.

To offer passengers a variety of choices, P&O has adapted their fleet to match the preferences of their primary markets. Although most of the ships cater to families as well as couples and singles of all ages, Arcadia, Adonia, andOriana are adults-only ships. The Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura complete the P&O armada and welcome both adults and children. Following customer feedback, P&O announced major refurbishments for the Ventura, Oceana, and Arcadia in 2013.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • Ventura is particularly family-friendly with play areas, character breakfasts, and a children’s club with circus school
  • The Oasis Spa has an excellent thermal suite and “endless” current pool
  • Each ship has 18 single cabins

Cons

  • These are large ships with a high number of passengers and will feel crowded at maximum capacity
  • There are extra fees to use the many premium facilities and services
  • There's a particularly high demand for single rooms requiring major advance booking
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,226
  • Entered Service 2008
  • Gross Tons 115,000
  • Length 951 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,539
  • Passenger Capacity 3,574
  • Width 118 feet
  • New

Nov 17, 2015

Mediterranean

FIRST & LAST CRUISE WITH P&O We have been on at least 10 other cruises with RCI, Celebrity and Seabourn and this was our first with P&O. We were extremely disappointed to say the least, even when compared to Island Cruises: the customer service both pre and during the cruise was absolutely disgraceful. OK food but nothing great. Very comfortable - super deluxe stateroom. Fair entertainment and activities. Positives:

Excellent service re baggage collection and delivery to the cabin and likewise on the return journey Cabin steward very attentive Super deluxe cabin - very comfortable and well appointed Negatives: 1) Customer service pre-cruise: totally conflicting advice During the 1st phone call inquiring about pricing I was told if the price drops after you book we automatically refund the difference. Found out later from our travel agent that this policy had been dropped either last or previous year. Pre-cruise travel documentation said to fill in pre-cruise questionnaire in the cruise personaliser. Rang P&O to say I couldn't find it - was told there's no such thing. Pre-cruise travel documentation said you could bring a small amount of alcohol on board (not to be consumed in public areas). Rang P&O to have this clarified only to be told you couldnt do this. On board found out that in fact you couldn't do this. E-tickets gave 2 different sizes for hand luggage: 55x40x20cm and 43x28x23cm. Rang P&O to find out which was correct - the person I spoke to didn't know but would find out and call me back the next day. No phone call the next day so I rang back: on our record it showed that your personnel had called me 3 times on my mobile but that I hadn't answered. You had the correct mobile number for me on file but my phone didn't have any missed calls and in any case why didn't they just leave a message for me? - that's assuming they really had called. 2) Customer service on board: Maintenance: spoke to reception desk 5 times about the air-conditioning not working. Explained it was on its lowest setting and yet at one point the temperature in the cabin was 25 degrees making it totally unbearable. It wasn't until the 6th DAY that it was finally repaired. Who was to blame for this? - reception for not passing on the message or maintenance for not responding? I would guess reception going on other dealings with them. Rang reception several times with various enquiries - staff never knew the answer so they had to go and find out, even when it was a basic question such as whether or not there was a shuttle bus. Both on the phone and at the reception desk the staff were most unfriendly and made no effort at all to provide good customer service - everything seemed to be too much of an effort for them. There was one exception and I think his name was Bonnie Dubois - it was his first day back off sick and he did everything he could to help. No matter where you were on board the staff were surly and made no effort to be pleasant and rarely did anyone say hello or even smile. 3) Restaurant staff (Cinnamon restaurant) - not been trained to a sufficiently high standard: Waiter would clear your plate as soon as you'd finished eating rather than waiting until everyone had finished Wine waiters: asked my husband who wanted white wine rather than asking each individual person what they wanted;would have filled the glass to the top if you hadn't stopped them, rather than part filling it; on one I occasion asked to speak to the head wine waiter about the above: he took the wine waiter to one side and thinking they were out of sight he made a big joke out of it with the waiter. It was quite obvious that the head wine waiter has no respect for the customers nor does he take his job seriously. After complaining to the Restaurant Manager about the above the service did improve. c) As part of the "Select" package one evening we received canapes in the cabin. The presentation and appearance was dreadful - needless to say we didn't eat them. This further highlights to us the apparent total lack of finesse and quality of service of P&O cruises. 4) Entertainment team Cruise Director was totally ineffectual and showed no enthusiasm whatsoever ,looked totally disinterested and bored during sail-away parties etc 5) Venice shuttle service: I was totally confused about the options available for people with reduced mobility. It would help if the people we were dealing with could speak good English (here referring to local Italian ground staff). Got to the shuttle bus - my family got on, I got off to double check about the service for the disabled and asked my daughter to make sure it didn't go without me. Bus started off, she tried to stop it and got her hand trapped in the door. Bus carried on regardless and I had to follow on later. Got to the quay side for the shuttle boat - the queue was enormous. My in-laws are disabled so we were able to move to the front of the queue. Even so it took us 1 and a half hours to get from the bus to being dropped off near St Marks Square. Just how long did it take the other passengers who had to wait in line? We sat bobbing about on the shuttle boat for 20 minutes until it was able to land. This service is an absolute disgrace and a rip-off at 15€ each ( total of 90€ for the 6 of us). We feel that some of the issues above could be improved by just 1 simple change to the system; on previous cruises gratuities have always been given directly to individuals i.e. not automatically earned. Our friends always cruise with P&O and having heard our experiences with poor service told us that they have noticed a dramatic fall in standards since automatic tipping was introduced. We know that passengers can opt out of automatic gratuities and in fact we did so but this is not going to improve overall standards - the staff need to earn their tips not just expect to be rewarded for doing nothing. Cruising is becoming a very competitive and expanding market so if P&O want to remain successful they need to look very closely at how they operate in order to retain loyal customers and attract new ones. This is particularly true in an environment where the internet is now so widely used to get insight into people's experiences with the different cruise lines and ships by reading their reviews. Below I refer to some of the claims made by P&O on its website. My experiences of them are in brackets: 1) Service on board P&O Cruises We will go to any length to ensure you enjoy the holiday of a lifetime (why did it take 5 requests to repair the aircon?) Enjoy the "holiday of a lifetime every time you cruise with us". At P&O Cruises we want to give you a holiday to remember, filled with special occasions and memorable moments. (as a family of 6 we chose a P&O cruise because this year we have had our own special occasions to celebrate: a diamond wedding anniversary, a silver wedding anniversary, a 60th birthday and a retirement, what a shame that P&O couldn't step up to the plate and give us those memorable moments to take away). From the friendly greeting you receive as you step on board, (no-one greeted us on board - we were completely ignored)to Black Tie nights where the entire ship dresses to the nines, or from a lazy afternoon of pampering in The Retreat, to a romantic dinner for two at a Marco Pierre White restaurant, everything about your P&O Cruises holiday will make you feel special. (the staff made no attempt to even smile never mind make us feel special) And when your cabin steward knows your name, and your bar steward remembers your favourite drink, that's simply how a P&O Cruises holiday should be. Throughout the ship, you will find genuine and attentive service from knowledgeable staff happy to help in any way they can (service was not at all attentive and the staff were surly). You'll soon become friends with the same waiters who will serve your table each and every evening, and will be amazed by the memory of the bar staff who will often remember your drink if you're a regular in the same bar. 2) We take care of every detail From a nightly turndown service to pool attendants offering fresh towels (not once did I see any pool attendants or towels on offer), we look after every aspect of your holiday. The moment you step on board, we will make sure you have a holiday of a lifetime - whether that means impeccable service, your favourite cocktail made just how you like it or breakfast in bed every morning. 3) We have 175 years of experience to call on Over this time we have perfected cruising to become the cruise experts. (you have not perfected cruising at all: even Island Cruises offer better service and attention to detail than P&O. Then there's RCI, Celebrity and Seabourn with whom we've also cruised - just no comparison!) I can safely say that our experience onboard the Ventura was a total disappointment. My in-laws who were celebrating their diamond wedding and who have never cruised before were so excited about their trip of a lifetime; my husband and I were celebrating our silver wedding, my 60th birthday and his retirement. This was to be one big celebration for all of us but P&O really let us down with its false and misleading claims. To summarise P&O did not fufill its promises to: go to any length to ensure the holiday of a lifetime make us feel special provide genuine and attentive service provide pool attendants offering fresh towels etc., etc., etc.. P&O were totally disinterested in all of my comments and just fobbed me off with "your comments will be passed to the relevant member of staff"

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  • New

Mar 24, 2015

Caribbean

There is absolutely nothing "Special" about a P&O Cruise anymore. Standards have plummeted to an unacceptable level in view of the claims made in P&O Cruise Brochures. Now average unless you are prepared to pay a supplement. Stained carpet, thick dust, smelled of urine. - Extractor in shower room not working. For a company that sells its cruises on "The Fine Dining" experience. Silver Service has gone, but they won't tell you.

You have to find out for yourself. 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 blatantly 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." 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 upselling 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. Well it isn't! This is just a small part of a lengthy complaint that has been sent to P&O.

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  • New

Jul 28, 2013

canary islands

it was absolutely fabulous, we all felt really pampered. we did it for two special birthdays combined and are thinking of doing a cruise again for my next big birthday, a few years yet.... the saffron, white room, east were 5 star all round. the rest definitely got 4 star. exceptionally good food, the lobster as amazing!!! and yes it was included in the cruise price. great our superior deluxe cabin D522 mid ship was fab, like

a mill pond even through the fog that we had for 24 hours. our steward Viju was excellent. very good entertainment. lanzarote volcano and wine tasting was good. the toboggan ride in madeira was good too for all ages.. excellent cruise overall.

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  • New

Jan 19, 2011

USA and Caribbean

This was our first full cruise (our previous experience was more than twenty years ago with Carnival and was a 4 day trip around the Bahamas) We went with our 17 year old daughter and my parents who are seasoned cruisers and highly recommended P&O. We were extremely impressed with the standard of Ventura, its helpful staff and the sheer number of ports of call they packed into our holiday which we felt made this particular cruise (4 US ports and

7 Carribean ports) extremely good value for money if the main purpose of your holiday is to visit as many destinations as possible. One slight drawback is that we flew out on New Years Eve and encountered a 5 hour delay at the airport meaning we did not arrive on board Ventura until late that evening. We missed the first formal dinner and only just managed to see the fireworks at midnight. This aside, the cruise was faultless. Prior to this holiday I didn't really think of myself as a 'cruise person' but I am now a convert and can't wait to go again! We mainly ate in the silver service restaurants - Saffron for breakfast and Bay Tree for dinner. Both were excellent with a good and varied choice of meals. The waiters, though initially a little forgetful, soon got used to our requirements and by the middle of the cruise an orange juice was always waiting for my daughter on arrival (as she rarely eats starters) and they even remembered special requests such as skimmed milk etc at breakfact without being reminded. Lunchtimes we occasionally used the Boardwalk self service buffet and whilst the food was good quality and plentiful, the main bug bear was trying to find a vacant table whilst we carried around our trays of food (fine if you've chosen a salad but if you've opted for a hot dish it will probably be cold by the time you find somewhere to sit!) The 4pm chocolate buffet was a feast for the eyes though not great if you are on first sitting for dinner unless you have a huge appetite! We sampled afternoon tea in the Saffron restaurant which was beautifully presented, with finger sandwiches, small cakes and pastries, hot crumpets and scones with clotted cream. We would have gone more than once but see previous comment re 1st sitting for dinner! We did not have the opportunity to try Whites, East or Ramblas for which you pay a small additional cover charge Other passengers were full of praise for Whites though We had an inside cabin on deck C, whilst my parents and daughter shared a balcony suite. Despite family jokes to the contrary, we never felt like second class citizens - our room steward was the most polite and helpful individual I've ever met. Nothing was too much trouble for him and whenever he heard us approach he would pop out from a cabin he was cleaning and rush along the corridor to open our door for us. The room was well appointed and the beds were extremely comfortable with Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy pillows. One slight problem was our shower which became blocked but we mentioned this to the steward and he arranged for a plumber to sort out same day. Although we did not have the benefit of a window, if we wanted to find out what the weather was doing or where we were without leaving the comfort of our cabin, we simply tuned into channel 9 and the ship's CCTV located on the bridge! We're not great 'joiners' and one of our major fears about going on a cruise was that it might be a little bit like 'Butlins on the sea.' There were plenty of activities to choose from but we never felt we had to participate. I attended an interesting talk about Reflexology (beware though - most of the spa talks are thinly veiled attempts to sign you up for expensive treatments which I fell for!) My husband enjoyed the gym which was free to use and very well equipped. He also enjoyed the golf 'driving range' on deck 19. Shows and entertainment in the evening were varied and included tribute acts, magicians, comedians including the excellent Tom O'Connor, plus some theatre style reviews- something for most people. My parents felt they weren't quite up to the standard of other P&O med cruises they'd been on, although we felt they were perfectly acceptable. The spa treatments tend to be pricey and beware of the hard sell 'home treatments' they try to flog at the end of the session - they can leave a huge hole in your pocket! Organised trips on the whole tend to be poor value for money. The majority of the Caribbean ports of call were much cheaper to organise independently. There are plenty of taxis who will provide similar half and full day trips around the island for much less (also as many of the Caribbean islands have Government-regulated fixed price tariffs for taxi fares you need not worry about being ripped off) The one P&O trip I would recommend was our final day in Barbados - a half day "Farewell to Barbados" trip gave us a whistle stop tour of the island before delivering us safely to the airport in good time for our flight home and made the most of our final day in the Caribbean. With the exception of the delays on arrival which sadly spoilt New Years Eve, I could not fault this cruise. I felt it was excellent value for money and the staff on board were without exception helpful and friendly. Prior to choosing this cruise we were very worried about the formal evenings and whether we would fit in. We actually enjoyed them very much (there were only four during the entire 14 days and we missed our first evening due to arriving on board late!) Despite other reviews claiming that 'formal evenings' mean formal throughout all public areas, the reality seemed to be that this only applies to the silver service dining rooms. We saw plenty of people using the upstairs buffets who were casually dressed and there does not appear to be a dress code in most of the bars and entertainment areas so if this is putting you off going on Ventura please don't stress unduly.

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Mar 14, 2009

Caribbean

Great ship well worth trying. few problems, though. Children jumping into pools and jacuzzis - not heeding of signs in the area. Formal night always meant formal wear in all public areas. On this cruise, however, some people wore t-shirts and shorts. All in all we had a very good time, as the staff were as wonderful as ever. Food was very good but not as much variety in the self service as on other ships. Had an inside cabin which was

a fair size, but had a well thoughtout layout. Didn't do too many activities but Neil Oliver`s sailaway parties were fantastic.

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