Paltry & Overpriced
Jane & Simon Dean | January 15, 2023 | P&O Cruises | Ventura
Review of N233 P&O Ventura 1st Dec ’22 – 5th Jan ‘23
We paid around £14,000 for two of us in a deluxe balcony on deck 9 in D607. Was this value for money? Nowhere near!!!
First impressions are so important. The cabin looked generally tired. Whilst not actually filthy, the cabin was dirty. Lots of areas had clearly not been cleaned for months. There was at least 3 months of dust on the table pedestal (as we pointed out to the steward). All the lights had flies inside them…when are they cleaned out? So Jane’s first job on a ‘luxury’ holiday was to clean the cabin, including in the cupboards, fridge and all the shelves. This is all probably due to staff cut backs, so fewer staff having to clean more cabins…and of course, there is no longer an evening turndown, which means they have effectively less time.
We noticed, after a few days, that the sink was not draining very fast and water pressure was very low. This was reported and did get sorted out, but the engineer left some mess on the side around the sink, so he said he would arrange for someone to come and clean it. Yes, you’ve guessed, no one had arrived in two hours, so we did it ourselves. The same thing occurred when we asked for the bath drain to be checked. Basically, it had not been cleaned for months by the amount of hair etc that was stuck in the drain. Obviously there is no maintenance programme for cleaning the waste traps? Once again, we had to clear up after the engineer.
The state of the balcony furniture was dire. It was so dirty and stained and looked like it was due for the skip! One chair had a black soot smut on it. We thought we’d wait and see how long it took until it was cleaned off. Still there when we docked back in Southampton! So that’s how much the stewards worry about the balcony furniture.
We did make some complaints and the person in charge of housekeeping for the deck offered us a free meal in Epicurian as compensation, but really these things should never have happened in the first place.
Where do we start?! Bland, tasteless, cold (invariably), uncooked. Even I know how to cook a roast potato, but apparently no one on Ventura does! Lets start with the Waterside buffet. So, buffet on both sides of the ship with hot plates either side of a central carving area. This leads to 4 potential meal menus…so why is it the same at all 4? Choice is so limited. One night was chicken in black bean, sweet and sour chicken or chicken korma, so basically if you didn’t like a ‘stew type’ chicken, you were stuffed (pun intended!). But, you say, you could have the roast meat. Great, except there was only one vegetable to go with it and that was usually cabbage! So, to breakfast, which on the whole wasn’t too bad, except for no black pudding (though you could get it in the restaurant), cold thin toast (though you could ask for fresh, but it was only done on one side and handed to you by staff rather than presented hygienically on a plate). However, eggs were a major problem. Day 1, ask for boiled eggs…they come hard boiled. Day 2, ask for soft boiled eggs. Don’t do those, you can have soft poached eggs. OK, I’ll have two. Came runny, but stone cold. Complained to head waiter in buffet. She said, of course you can have boiled eggs. Day 3, 2 soft boiled eggs please. They came…any egg cups? We don’t have egg cups! So tried eating boiled egg by holding it in a napkin. Guess what…hard boiled again! So, a fellow cruiser says you can get soft boiled eggs at breakfast in the restaurant. Next day, we go to restaurant. Sat on a table for 8 and everyone orders. Jane asks for two soft boiled eggs and I ask for a ham, cheese and onion omelette. This is another bugbear. Why in the buffet can you only get the omelette P&O want to give you that day eg mushroom?? Anyway, order taken. The other 6 people get their breakfast…we are told ours will take 5 minutes. 30 minutes later, when everyone else has finished their breakfast, ours arrives. A 2 egg omelette (not a 3 egg as I was expecting!) and 2 soft boiled eggs, which were in eggcups (amazing) and nearly warm (hardly surprising after a 30 minute wait). Everyone else left before we had finished. We asked for another coffee and were totally ignored by waiters, so we left. Whilst we are on about waiters, we have never seen such disinterested and hopeless waiters. Their attitude says they just don’t want to be there. All they wanted to do was clear your plate asap…usually while your mouth was still full. We’ve been in greasy spoon cafes with better service.
So, lets get on to restaurant food. The menu was so boring. No prawn cocktail to start, hardly ever any salmon, but the worst thing was the size of portions. One lady had a warm brie starter. Brie is usually about one inch thick…this was a sliver. When the waiter asked if everything was alright, she said yes, but where’s the rest of it…a comment that could be made to just about every course during the cruise. As for Christmas and New Years ‘gala’ dinners…appalling; cold food, one (supposedly) roast potato, a piece of carrot, 2 (count them) two brussel sprouts, no parsnip, a pile of crumbs that apparently was stuffing and I have no idea what the thing like half a fish finger was!
We spoke to several head waiters in various locations and they all said the same thing. Very sorry, but we have to do meals how Shoreside in Southampton tell us. We wish we had met the Executive Chef, because if he had any gumption, he would resign!!
The only good meals we had were two in Epicurian (where everything was great) and two in the Glasshouse, but that app is so useless, we nearly missed our second meal in the Glasshouse. Also, the Glasshouse only opened on the 21st day of the cruise…no idea why. Such a waste, as the food there was top notch.
Other annoying food things…no free ice cream, fruit juice removed from Waterside after breakfast (why?), constantly having to ask for bananas or grapes, no afternoon tea (unless you pay £17.50 in Epicurian). We could go on, but why bother. Everyone we spoke to said how bad the food was and reading reviews of other Christmas cruises, it would appear this is a fleetwide problem. By the way, we’re thinking of contacting Marco Pierre White to tell him the state of the food being served with his name on it.
The app and Waiter’s pads
What a waste of time. If you queue for a restaurant, you might as well just join the non reserved queue…its just as quick. It doesn’t let you know when you can go to the restaurant or Glasshouse unless you are constantly refreshing your phone screen. As for the theatre, reserve your 8:30 slot (if you can) and then queue to get in anyway. Absolute waste of time.
As to the waiters/bar staff iPads…a good old piece of paper was quicker and more accurate, but here is the main problem. Jane likes a strawberry daiquiri, but made with vodka instead of rum. This has never been a problem in any of the 30 cruises we have done…except for this one. You can’t have a daiquiri with vodka, as its not on the system. OK, we’ll have a virgin daiquiri and put a separate shot of vodka in it. No, you can’t do that either, as a virgin one isn’t on the system either. So basically, you can’t have the drink you want…pathetic!! And why do the waiters in the restaurant use the iPad to take your meal order, but write down your dessert order on a pad of paper? Its beyond me!
I can’t believe some people actually paid over £500 for wifi that didn’t work…what a rip off!
Pre boarding COVID test
After all the hassle we had trying to get an observed COVID test, P&O went and cancelled the need for them 10 days before the cruise. We tried to get our money back, but guess what? I phoned the company…no reply. I e mailed the company…e mail returned, or to put it another way, that’s another £60 we’ve lost.
Some of the excursions P&O organise are really bad. We believe someone from P&O goes on these excursions to check they are suitable. If that is the case, they need sacking! We have mentioned most of these to the on board excursions staff. We are still waiting to see if anything has come of our (and other passengers) complaints, but presumably it has all fallen on deaf ears again, as we have had no feedback.
St Lucia (13/12/22) Waterfall & Gardens
After a 1 hour drive that was worse than a ride at Alton Towers, we did see a waterfall (well worth the trip…not!), the Botanical Gardens (which weren’t too bad) and had a ‘meal’ at a stop off (cod fritter, chicken and fried plantain, all of which should have been hot, but were cold) and 3 coaches stop at the same time, so you have to try and get in the queue, queue for your food, find somewhere to sit, eat it and be back on the coach…all in 20 minutes!!!, then a 1 hour corkscrew drive back.
Curacao (16/12/22) Island tour and Hato Caves
The island tour consisted of a 3 mile drive to a rum distillery (basically disguised as a visit to a shop to buy rum), another couple of miles to the Museum (which was falling apart and had piles of ‘modern art’ in it) and then on to the caves. A rum distillery and a museum does not constitute an island tour!!
Guadeloupe (21/12/22) Guadeloupe Highlights
Went to a waterfall (which was OK), but had to wait for 20 minutes for the coach to pick us up, then went to a Botanical Gardens for 90 minutes (which was OK), then went to (another) rum distillery. Coach driver got lost, guide didn’t know where she was going either. Coach could not get round a corner, so had to reverse ¼ mile and took 4 attempts to reverse round a corner. When we eventually got to the distillery, coach reversed into the gate, forcing a truck that was already coming out to reverse back in. Guide didn’t wait for the group to catch up before starting her spiel…half the people just went back to the coach!
Tortola (24/12/22) Scenic Tortola
You couldn’t see out of some of the bus windows. Bus driver (who was also tour guide) said hardly anything! Normally, you can’t shut them up. Would say things like ‘here is the Police station’ and repeat it three times. Went to a ruined church (no one got out), drove up the drive to the Community College and turned round and came back out. Stopped to take a couple of scenic photos then stopped at the highest point of the island for a refreshment. Unfortunately, the highest point where you could get some nice photos was a hours hike away…and we were there for 15 minutes, so basically a waste of time. Next, another silent drive to marina where we could buy a coffee…(ooohhh!!), then drive back to the port.
We have probably forgotten some things, but we think you can see from the tone of this review that things need to be drastically improved and from comments we heard around the ship, lots of people will not be coming on a P&O cruise again, so they have shot themselves in the foot! If only the crew could do things they wanted and not have to be at the beck and call of ‘Shoreside’, everyone would be a lot better off. Perhaps Paul Ludlow should arrive unannounced on one of his ships to see what really happens…like that’s ever going to happen!!
In conclusion, we would like to point out some good things. Generally speaking, all the bar waiters and ‘cleaners’ were very nice and happy to say hello. Although most of the entertainment acts were below par, the staff were great…hosting the quizzes etc around the ship. We would like to single out Marc and Hannah for hosting the ‘Battle of the Exchange’, David for his enthusiasm at quizzes etc, but especially Amanda. She has a very dry sense of humour and ‘made’ the New Years Eve party in The Exchange. She started singing at 8pm (and was miles better than the girls in the Headliners), hosted a quiz (with David) at 9:30 and went on with David to run the karaoke, which went on after we went to bed at 1230, all without a break. It was a brilliant night and all credit to David and especially Amanda.
It takes us a lot of hard work to be able to afford a holiday like this, where we expect to have a relaxing time over Christmas and New Year and let others look after us. We don’t mind paying for this, but in this case we have been thoroughly let down and wish we’d never gone.
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