Caribbean Cruise December 2012
Craig Booker | November 4, 2016 | P&O Cruises | Ventura
My Partner ad I recently returned from a Caribbean cruise on the Ventura, we thoroughly enjoyed this holiday and it was our first longer cruise.
The chartered flights are a real bonus, we paid extra for premium seats which at ?249pp seemt a lot but we loved the separate check in queue at Manchester and the fastrack through security, never before have we entered an airport, checked in and got through security in 15 minutes!! The Thomson flight was excellent and the staff in the premium cabin very attentive constantly coming to take drinks orders from us which are included in the premium seats, there was a great choice of movies/programmes and music for us to choose from individually as each seat has its own mini TV and headphones provided. We would definitely do the premium seats again now we have been spoilt!
On arrival in Barbados we were very impressed with the swift process, straight off the plane onto awaiting air conditioned coaches to take us straight to the port without having to go through the airport, didn’t even have to collect our luggage it went straight from the plane to the ship (although a slight downside was that they told us I could take up to 4 hours for the luggage to reach our cabin and ours did take 4 hours so we could not get changed for a while – note for next time, pack an outfit or 2 in the hand luggage!!)
The embarkation process was very organised and quick; again we got off the coach and were on board within 10 minutes. When we first saw Ventura we thought WOW it is huge and immediately took bets on how many days it would take us to find out way around the ship (we got lost just trying to find our cabin but that was because we were being nosey wanting to take everything in – luckily there were loads of staff on hand to guide us) We were in a mid-ship balcony and were very thankful we decided to have a balcony on this holiday as the weather was fantastic and it was great to be able to enjoy a drink (or two) on the balcony before dinner, and a coffee in the morning using the tea and coffee facilities provided in the cabin free of charge. The cabin was great, clean and tidy and had everything we needed including digital safe that we did not have to pay extra for as well as fridge, hairdryer and toiletries in the bathroom. Our cabin steward Rajeesh came and introduced himself pretty much immediately on arrival and was fantastic throughout the entire cruise, nothing was too much trouble for him and he kept our cabin immaculate.
We were very tired after the flight so it was nice that they had a deck bbq party this was ideal as we didn??t want to get dressed up for dinner that evening after being on long flight.
We were impressed with the public areas, plenty of pools including the oasis adult only pool area which we used quite a lot for a quieter area, although there is no bar at this pool the waiters were constantly coming around to take drinks orders so we did not feel we missed out not being near to a bar, also this is an “endless” pool so you can have a decent swim in it without actually moving anywhere!! We found this area pretty quiet whenever we went up and there was plenty of sunbathing areas here too!
We opted for freedom dining so we had the flexibility of going for dinner at a time that suited us, we initially waited for tables for 2 but be warned after 30 minutes wait (which was not an issue as they give you a buzzer so you can enjoy a drink whilst waiting) the tables for 2 can be very close together, almost feeling like a larger table for 10 – had we known this we wouldn’t have waited and would have sat with other people as we could have dined immediately. We ate in the buffet, plenty of choice and great quality of food, the Beach house Diner was a sit down waiter service in the evening and although a fairly simple menu which does not change the quality of food was excellent, please try the lava rock steak you pay a small supplement for this around ?6.50 but it is fantastic! The waiters in here were particularly attentive and we ended up using this 4 times during the cruise. We also paid ?25pp to eat in the Marco Pierre White restaurant and were not disappointed, again the staff were brilliant and the food was amazing!
Entertainment wise, all the people we spoke to were happy with the various options on a daily basis, we had the horizon newspaper delivered each evening for the following day and there were ample choices all throughout the day to keep everyone entertained. We personally enjoyed the Freddie mercury tribute act; hot ticket in the theatre was excellent – very professional! We also saw a comedian whom we enjoyed, and of course the exchange bar with its quizzes and karaoke was always entertaining.
The ports we visited and the weather were great, well apart from st vincent which we would probably book an excursion for next time. Our favourites were Antigua and St lucia, beautiful. We booked 3 excursions all through p&o, we were told we could have done them cheaper ourselves but to be honest if we do it again this year we will book all our tours through p&o it was just so easy to get off the ship, be met and guided to coaches etc. We did the cat caribe turtles and snorkelling in Barbados, the turtles were huge and the service was fantastic from start to finish, river tubing in Dominica which was also amazing and our favourite was zip lining in st kitts – what an adrenaline rush and the company who did the excursion were very thorough and big on health and safety so we felt very secure!!
All in all – an excellent cruise, I think it will be better when p&o revert back to flights friday/saturday and the same guests on the cruise for the 2 weeks as the 1 week turnaround meant half the guests had already done half the cruise before you got there so for sociability and mixing with guests we feel the full 2 weeks will work better.
Be prepared to manage your expectations.
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