My voyage on the Ventura
With all the cruise lines on offer which one do I choose for my own holiday?
I decided to have a week away with a friend; we were approaching halfway through the year and no holiday so far, so where to go and what to do? Well as with many people out there cost, itinerary and ship all came into account, so after a brief discussion we decided on the Ventura, one of P&O’s larger ships.
The itinerary was around Italy calling into Croatia and was for just a week.
There are very mixed reviews out there about this ship, I have been on her before for a few days earlier in the year, as a guest of P&O to experience all this ship has to offer, and whilst it was a fabulous time, it was short just 4 days and we packed so much into those days as P&O wanted to showcase all the different dining options, bars & lounges on board, I had a fabulous time and loved the ship, crew, facilities, but was a little sceptical that maybe everyone was on their best behaviour because they were warned we were agents on an inspection visit, so to go under our own steam as a paying guest would be interesting to compare.
We boarded the ship in Genoa for our 7 day voyage ending in Venice with an overnight stop in the city. I have been to Venice before but one of my bucket/must do wish list items was to sail in or out of Venice on a cruise ship, more about that in one of the following blogs.
The embarkation process was pleasant and speedy. We arrived in the afternoon to a virtually empty hall full of check in desks, all manned even though there were only a few later arrivals like my friend and I. With the amount of check in desks, I can imagine this would be a fairly quick process even at busy times, with the amount of check in desks and check in staff. Genoa airport to port is a nice short journey and the station for those arriving by train like myself was in walking distance.
As we made independent arrangements to join this cruise, as we live at opposite ends of the country, the only main difference was we had to take on our own cases, as oppose to the fly cruise package you can do with P&O where once you check your bags at whatever UK airport you depart from, the next time you see them is in the cabin, talk about stressless travelling.
We were on a budget we opted for an Inside cabin, as opposed to paying a little more for an ocean view cabin or a little more again for a balcony. More cocktails! Last time I was on board I was in a Deluxe Balcony, was there much of a difference? I shall be following up these blogs with an inside v balcony is it worth it blog.
Back to this voyage. So off to the cabin to drop our bags, quick freshen up then head up to one of the outside bars to check out the coast line as we sail away. The cabin was set up as a twin bed configuration, although you have the option of having a double. The cabin was nicely decorated and included a TV, hairdryer (well it looked and sounded like a hairdryer but was much less powerful than mine at home, so note if you are getting ready allow more time than usual), a fridge which is great as P&O allow you take take on board a bottle for consumption in your stateroom, we took gin and just bought mixers on board which room service will deliver anytime as they are available 24hours. The TV has a selection of free and pay films, tv shows, and is also interactive, so you can view the web cam, great for inside cabin as who knows where you are or what the weather is like ! You can also view the ships position and other features such as shopping, dining options, your bill etc
With your room key card you get a small folding map of the ship, I have a great sense of direction but it took me until near the end of the week to think which was the front or back and which side I was on, maybe this is to do with being in an inside cabin? You often see people as they get out of one of the many lift on board go left then right then left again as they get their baring’s!
One of the things I think is a great plus about the Ventura and her sister ship the Azura, in the cabins as you go in there is a small corridor then a large wardrobe/dressing area with the ensuite off this before you are in the bed part of the cabin, The wardrobe/dressing area is a great size with more than enough room for all your clothes, shoes etc, there is a tall cupboard with a safe and shelves, the rail is full of hangers and a great feature is it is discreetly away from your beds so going to the loo, changing after a shower does not disturb the other guest/guests in the cabin. The beds are built to allow you to slide your suitcases under so they are out of the way for the voyage, but with many people travelling with super large cases if these do not fit under the bed then there is plenty of room for them to be stored in the wardrobe area.
Another huge plus point for me was in the cabin there was a kettle!! I love a brew in the morning and before bed, and although you can arrange for room service to bring a pot of tea on other ships, I like having my own kettle. And twining’s tea, you can of course take your brew of choice with you if you prefer a different brand.
Kettles are banned as well as other electrical devices that heat up such as straighteners or travel irons on many lines due to it being a fire hazard, so a kettle in the cabin was a bonus for me not for my friend as she didn’t really drink hot drinks.
My friend and I had already discussed what we wanted out of the holiday, to chill and recharge after a busy start to the year. One of the great things about cruising whether alone, as a couple, in a large group, there is so much to do that you can get out of the holiday what YOU want.
Although we were allocated the set dining, the time was the early sitting which is approx. 6.30pm every evening, we thought we would probably only use the dining room on the 2 formal nights as we were going to take each day as it came and see how we felt on the lazy scale and as there are many alternative dining options on the Ventura, from room service, 2 exclusive restaurant’s under the supervision of Michelin starred chefs, informal waiter service dining, the 24 hour buffet we also wanted to try the different options.
So bags dropped off in the cabin, the daily newspaper the Horizon which is delivered to your cabin daily in hand, this has the day’s events, activities sailing times, opening times for the restaurants, shops, bars in. It is your daily bible to what’s on where etc on baord. We were about to go up to grab a drink under the glorious Italian sun and plan the evening activities, when we remember it’s time for our muster drill, this is a run through of the emergency procedures in place in case of such an event so along we toddle along with our life jackets for the drill. It is over quite quickly so back to the cabin to drop off the life jackets and back to our original plan, a drink and event planning! The voyage was so calm that as we did not have a window the lifejackets in the wardrobe were the only reminder we were at sea not in a hotel room on land at times!
Up on the Sun deck we go, sit on one of the many loungers the ship has, prosecco in hand, thanks to the attentive waiter service there was no need to move ! With the back drop of Genoa we sit and plan what we would like to see/do in the week ahead, as we both have had a super early morning the last couple of days we decide rather than getting ready for dinner in the dining room we would have a few drinks as we sailaway then dinner in the buffet restaurant and an early night.
I love sailaways, sitting with a drink in hand watching the coast line of whatever country you are in go by. So we have a few drinks in the open air on the sun deck as the ship leaves the port of Genona bound for Livorno the following day, planning our week ahead.
Then off to the buffet on lido deck, there is a huge and varied selection of food, and the choice of sitting is plentiful with seats either inside by the huge windows allowing you to watch the world go by or you can take your food outside as they have a selection of tables in the middle of the ship near the beachcomber bar/pool or at the back near the terrace bar, allowing you to eat alfresco.
In the outside area of both the beachcomber pool area and the terrace bar area is an area where smoking is allowed it is on the starboard side (right). So choose your side carefully !
So with fatigue/prosecco kicking in we grabbed a plateful, ate outside, and then back to the cabin for an early night, whilst many other guests were just getting into the swing of things on board and utilising the many different lounges and bars on board we were sleeping soundly !
So far so good, great embarkation, nice cabin, clean ship, friendly staff, great choice in the buffet, looks like this was going to be a great week…..
Next time more about the restaurants, food quality and choice as well as what the service in these areas is really like on Ventura and those all-important drinks cost, plus tips on saving money on your bar bill.
Cherry Davies June 30th, 2014 This entry was posted in Uncategorized
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