First time cruisers a year ago, Bob and Julie Bowles enjoyed it so much that they decided to try a Canaries trip on board P&O’s Ventura this autumn. They had a great time, even though they thought Ventura was overdue for a refurbishment. Here is their report.
Boarding from Southampton couldn’t have been easier, very slick and quick , write Bob and Julie Bowles. Within a short time we were on board Ventura having lunch while the luggage was being delivered to our cabin.
We had booked a balcony room but were very surprised at how small the bathroom was. The shower was a tight fit and there was really only room for one person at a time in the bathroom. The décor looked very tired and in need of refurbishment.
Cupboard and hanging space for clothes was ample. The bed was comfortable and the space adequate, but again the whole room seemed dated and needing refreshing. The TV in the room was small and at times the reception wasn’t great, but it was good to have the interactive channel to keep check on our spending. If I were to rate the cabin, I would give it 3 stars at most.
The balcony space was just enough. although the outside furniture needed a revamp. The plus side was that passengers don’t spend too much time in their cabins as there is so much to do.
The cabin staff were great and couldn’t do enough – although when I requested extra milk for coffee they explained that they only had so much to share out. We just got it ourselves from the restaurant.
The main restaurant had a lot of choice and the food was excellent: something for everyone and not once did we have a bad meal. Seating was sometimes a problem at peak times, however.
Of an evening we chose Freedom Dining with a choice of two restaurants. Each night we sat on a table with strangers and met some very interesting people.
The food was superb and only one night did we have to wait for a table, but we had chosen a popular time. After this, we ate much later and never had to wait again.
We paid an additional £28 per head to eat in one of the Select Dining options one evening. We chose the Epicurean and it was worth every penny. Michelin star quality food prepared by executive chefs. The attention from the waiting staff was fantastic and the whole evening made you feel special. A great experience and thoroughly recommended.
Drink prices were about normal; the cocktails were slightly over priced, but worth the little bit of extra.
During the afternoons some people had problems securing sunbeds as it got quite busy on deck, but it didn’t seem to be a huge issue. On days at sea there were lots of things going on, from bingo to dancing lessons. And there were always those duty-free shops to browse.
On one of the days at sea, I went for a Spa treatment. Totally overpriced and then they expected a tip. I wouldn’t rush back.
On the subject of tips: we were given £200 each on-board spending money but immediately they took £72 each off this for tips. We found out later we could have asked for the tips to be removed. If we went again, we would definitely opt out and tip only when we felt the service was above what is expected.
The entertainment of an evening was good, very varied and included some great tribute acts. The only disappointment was the shows they put on which were supposed to be like West End shows. They weren’t, and we only stayed a short while (as did others).
Overall, the ships entertainment staff did a great job – and the sail-a-ways were amazing.
After three days sailing, our first stop was beautiful Madeira. We paid for an excursion – the cable car and toboggan ride. This was an amazing experience and definitely worth the money. We also called at Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lisbon.
The only time we saw rain was on the last day, sailing back to Southampton.
The overall cruise experience on-board Ventura was amazing and we would definitely go cruising again. But perhaps we would try a different ship next time – preferably one that has been recently refurbished.