P&O Ventura Cruise Ship Review

P&O Ventura Cruise Ship Review: Experienced Cruisers Might HATE Her!

Embarking on a P&O Ventura mini cruise from Southampton offered a unique opportunity to assess the ship’s offerings just before its scheduled drydock for refurbishment. With an enticing fare of £340 per person for a standard balcony cabin, secured via a late saver deal, expectations were carefully managed, especially considering the ship’s pending maintenance and its age. This detailed review encompasses various aspects of the Ventura cruise experience, providing insights into what passengers can expect from both the ship and P&O as a cruise line.

P&O Ventura at Ocean Terminal, Southampton - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: P&O Ventura at Ocean Terminal, Southampton / Sail Away Magazine

Introduction to P&O Ventura

P&O Ventura, a ship with nearly 14 years of service and last refurbished in 2018, is a testament to P&O’s commitment to its fleet. Despite showing signs of wear and tear, the ship still manages to offer a comfortable and enjoyable cruising experience, reflective of P&O’s standards. This cruise, set just before Ventura’s scheduled drydock, was approached with adjusted expectations, mindful of the ship’s condition and the incredibly competitive fare.

Booking Value and Expectations

The late saver rate of £340 per person for a standard balcony cabin represented exceptional value, especially for a mini cruise. This pricing set the tone for the journey, with the understanding that, despite potential signs of aging, Ventura’s offering would be evaluated within the context of this affordability and the impending refurbishment.

Ship Condition and Maintenance

Upon boarding, it was evident that P&O had not neglected Ventura despite its age. Public areas, including bars, lounges, and restaurants, were well-maintained, with seating in venues like Havana appearing notably fresh. This maintenance effort indicated a strategic investment in the ship, contrasting with experiences aboard other vessels in the fleet, like Arcadia, where such investment seemed lacking.

P&O Ventura's Atrium - P&O Cruises
Credit: P&O Ventura’s Atrium / P&O Cruises

Cabin Experience and Amenities

Our standard balcony cabin, though among the smaller ones we’ve encountered at 165 square feet, was efficiently laid out and comfortable. The balcony, a pleasant extension of the room, was in good condition. Notably, the cabin’s interactive TV system seemed outdated, especially when compared to the advanced systems on newer ships like Iona & Arvia, suggesting an area ripe for improvement during the drydock.

Deluxe Balcony Cabin aboard P&O Ventura - P&O Cruises
Credit: Deluxe Balcony Cabin aboard P&O Ventura / P&O Cruises

Dining Experience Across Venues

Ventura’s dining options span from formal dining rooms like Cinnamon, Saffron, and the Bay Tree to casual spots like the Waterside Buffet and poolside eateries. While specialty restaurants offered enhanced dining experiences, the overall variety and quality in the inclusive venues appeared diminished compared to past cruises and other lines. This was particularly evident in the lack of variety at venues like the poolside pizzeria, which, despite serving commendable pizza, highlighted the broader issue of reduced dining diversity onboard.

Trio Starter at The Glasshouse on P&O Ventura - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Trio Starter at The Glasshouse on P&O Ventura / Sail Away Magazine

Specialty Dining Highlights

The dining experiences at specialty restaurants such as Epicurean at the White Room and Sindhu showcased P&O’s ability to offer premium culinary experiences, albeit at an additional cost. Epicurean presented a sophisticated dining experience with a selection of finely crafted dishes, while Sindhu offered a taste of modern Indian cuisine with a twist, reflecting the changes in P&O’s dining strategy towards a la carte pricing and reduced complementary offerings.

Chicken Starter at Sindhi aboard P&O Ventura - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Chicken Starter at Sindhi aboard P&O Ventura / Sail Away Magazine

Entertainment and Daytime Activities

Entertainment aboard Ventura was a mixed bag, with the ship’s efforts ranging from standard fare like shuffleboard and quizzes to more unique offerings such as live music and port talks. The west end style shows and Stephen Mulhern’s magic show “Astonishing” were highlights, though the repetitive nature of some entertainment options suggested a need for refreshment and innovation in this area.

Beachcomber Pool aboard P&O Ventura - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Beachcomber Pool aboard P&O Ventura / Sail Away Magazine

Onboard Services and Leisure Amenities

Facilities like the Oasis Spa and various pools, including one with a retractable roof, offered ample relaxation and leisure opportunities. The spa experience, complemented by a range of treatments and the option for day passes, added a layer of luxury to the cruise, albeit with variations in availability and service reflective of broader post-2020 operational adjustments.

Service and Staff Interactions

Service aboard Ventura varied, with standout service in bars like Havana and Tamarind Club, yet noticeable dips in dining venues. This inconsistency, possibly linked to staffing challenges and the discontinuation of mandatory gratuities, underscored the evolving nature of P&O’s service standards in the post-pandemic cruising landscape.

Beverage Options and Packages

The drinks selection and packages on Ventura mirrored the broader industry trend towards simplification and cost management. While basic drink prices were fair, the limitations and exclusions within the drinks packages, particularly the Ultimate Drinks Package, highlighted a strategic shift in how P&O approaches onboard beverage offerings, moving towards a more restricted model that may not cater to all passenger preferences.

Reflections on Value and Experience

Considering the price paid and the overall experience, Ventura offered a compelling value proposition, particularly for those new to cruising or seeking a budget-friendly option from the UK. The ship’s condition, amenities, and service, though showing room for improvement, provided a satisfactory cruise experience that aligned well with the competitive fare.

P&O Ventura Docked at Ocean Terminal, Southampton - Sail Away Magazine
P&O Ventura Docked at Ocean Terminal, Southampton – Sail Away Magazine

Concluding Thoughts

Our journey on P&O Ventura provided a balanced perspective on the ship’s offerings, set against the backdrop of its imminent refurbishment and the competitive pricing strategy employed. While certain aspects, such as dining variety and entertainment, highlighted areas ripe for enhancement, the overall value and experience delivered by Ventura affirmed P&O’s position within the cruise industry. As the ship and line continue to evolve, particularly in response to post-pandemic challenges, the focus on maintaining quality and value will be crucial for attracting and retaining passengers in a highly competitive market.

Watch Our P&O Ventura Cruise Ship Review Below!

P&O Ventura Cruise Ship Review - Sail Away with Dan & Jay
Credit: P&O Ventura Cruise Ship Review / Sail Away with Dan & Jay