Cruise - Ocean Cruise
First Cruise with P&O
122 people found this review helpful
We were victims of the volcanic ash cloud and were unable to join our cruise ship in Galveston, for sailing back to Barcelona. As a result we had to book something else at the last minute and chose P&O Ventura sailing from Southampton for a 14 day cruise around the Mediterranean. This was our first cruise with P&O having sailed for the past 5 years with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity so we were keen to make a comparison.
On boarding the ship we immediately missed the welcome on board drink that we had become used to on RCI/Celebrity. On exploring the ship prior to being allowed in our cabins we found it to be in good condition as was to be expected on something only 2 years old. The pools looked clean and there were plenty of sun loungers. These for once were not placed so close together that you were rubbing shoulders with the person next to you. Lots of different sun bathing areas with 4 separate swimming pools although the one at the rear of the ship is really only a plunge pool. The sun loungers are very comfortable but some of them badly needed cleaning around the foot area. Being light blue they showed the dirt even more. It was also the first ship we had been on with a launderette/ironing room which proved most useful.
We had an outside cabin on Panama Deck which was towards the bow. We liked the design which was different from all the previous ships we had been on. There was a large amount of hanging space and plenty of drawer space. It was also the first time that we have had tea making facilities in the cabin with biscuits that were replenished each day. We also liked the complimentary bottled water on arrival together with the dish of sweets. The disadvantage of the cabin was that whilst it was very quiet when at sea it became very noisy with a lot of vibration when the bow thrusters were in use particularly when entering port early in the morning. Certainly no need for an alarm clock. It is noted that on Ventura’s new sister ship cabins P201 – P211 have been removed possibly to alleviate this problem.
These were always crowded which meant playing ‘Find a Table’. After a few days this became very tiresome and encouraged us to use the restaurants more than we would normally. The only hand gel dispensers in the buffets are positioned at the entrances to the food counters and many people were ignoring them. Why not put them at the entrance to the buffet area with a member of staff to ensure passengers use them as they do on other cruise lines?? The selection of food at the buffets whilst good did not in our opinion come anywhere near the selection offered by RCI/Celebrity. Whilst appreciating that P&O are aimed at British customers they need to take on board that some of their clients have more international tastes. Not everyone likes ‘Traditional English’ breakfast. Hash Browns were made into a fried triangle instead of the normal grated potato. No Corn Beef Hash, Smoked Salmon, Crispy Bacon, no different types of Scrambled Egg, Chipolatas etc. One lunch time I asked if they had any fish on the menu and was told they only had ‘Fish Crumble’!! In general the quality was good but the selection poor.
There are 3 main restaurants on the ship and depending which cabin you are in and the type of dinning option you have selected determines which restaurant you will be allocated. We were in Saffron situated on Deck 6 with a table of 8. We noted that there was no hand gel dispenser at the entrance to the restaurant. On asking one of the persons stationed at the entrance about the gel we were told that tests had shown that constant use of it caused it to be ineffective!!!!! If that is the case have all the other cruise lines got it wrong??? Again the food was of good quality but lacked choice. There also seemed to be a lack of assistant waiters which meant that the main waiters were doing all the jobs which slowed down the service. On our first evening we entered the restaurant at 8.45pm and left at 10.50pm!! They also adopt the system that one knife does all. On ordering a steak I requested a steak knife and was told that they did not have any and a normal knife had to be used. The disadvantage of this is that whilst the steak was beautifully cooked the knife was not sharp and therefore unable to cut through it. Another lady on our table asked for a fish knife and received the same response. Having said this we never had a meal that had to be sent back and the food and plates were always hot. There was a good selection of wines all at very reasonable prices. Far cheaper than RCI/Celebrity and no 15% added on.
There are also 3 dining alternatives. Marco Pierre White £20 p.p, East £15 p.p and Ramblers £5 p.p. We used the East and thought it was good value for money. The food was fantastic and beautifully presented.
Drinks & Gratuities
This is an area where P&O really score against their competitors. We found the prices cheaper than a local pub and there was no 15% gratuity added to the price. If you go to the Red Bar and order a double spirit you receive a free mixer which is a known brand. Example, double Gin with Tonic, £4.30. In the other bars a Pint of Old Speckled Hen bitter £2.60, pint of Lager £2.90. Again P&O really score with the gratuities. Recommended is £1.50 per person per day for the cabin steward and £1.60 per person per day to include all dining room waiting staff. Total for a 14 day cruise per couple £86.80. Why can’t other cruise lines adopt these prices?
The entertainment team was lead by the Cruise Director, Leon de Ste Croix, who in our opinion is one of the best we have sailed with. There are 3 main entertainment areas on the ship. The Arena Theatre, Havana Bar and Tamarind Club. The theatre is used mainly for shows put on by the Ventura Theatre Company who we found to be excellent and by the main celebrity acts. One of these was a mind reader named Marc Paul. He was fantastic. The other 2 venues were used by the ‘Tribute’ acts and singers. During our cruise we had people doing, Tom Jones, Annie Lenox, Lu Lu and Freddie Mercury. Also there is the usual, Bingo, Karaoke, various Quizzes, His and Hers and other variations of TV game shows. There is something for everyone.
This is a modern ship, well set out with good passenger space and pleasant well thought out cabins. The public areas are light and airy as are the passage ways to the cabins. The atrium is smart but did not have the ‘WOW’ factor that you associate with the newer Royal Caribbean ships. It is aimed at the British traveller and from the people we met on board P&O has a very loyal following. Despite the lack of choice in the buffets and restaurant the food was always of good quality. Service in the restaurant could have been better. Having said that the question is, would we cruise with P&O again? The cost of drinks and gratuities make a huge difference to the cost of the cruise holiday and coupled with the spacious sunbathing areas and pleasant cabins the answer is a resounding YES.
122 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.