Caribbean on Ventura

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Review Details

Overall Rating:
Cruise Line:
P&O Cruises
Cruise Ship:

Review Profile

Times cruised before:
56 - 65
January, 2017

Cruise Elements:

Quality of Food:
Mostly good
Shore Excursions:
Onboard Activities:
Suite was good but lacked the refinement I expected
I have been to the Caribbean a dozen or so times before and have always enjoyed the variety it offers as well as the good weather to avoid in the UK winter months.  One reason I chose this cruise was the itinerary which included Cartagena, Columbia and Puerto Limón in Costa Rica.

The highlight for me was Cartagena, Columbia.  As a keen cyclist I chose the cycling tour of the city which was a bit disappointing as the bikes were fixed-gear sit-up-and-beg type bikes with a basket on the front.  The traffic in Cartagena was terrible which made life difficult for a group of 20 or so cyclists and support vehicle.  Half the time we ended up pushing the bikes on the pavement in the 30 plus degrees heat and high humidity.  That apart, the city is fantastic with too much history to mention in a short review.  Having made our way to the old part of the city cycling became easier and more enjoyable with several stops en route including cycling on the old city walls.  The city is very safe for tourists but getting there independently from the cruise port is a long walk and not easy to navigate.  I suggest you share a taxi.

On returning to the ship I suggest you allow time to see what I can only describe as a local wildlife centre at the entrance to the terminal where you will find all kinds of Central American wildlife including anteaters, parrots, monkeys, flamingos etc.  As such, it is the most interesting cruise terminal I have ever visited.  

I had been through the Panama canal before on a world cruise so I wasn't really bothered about Colón.  Friends on our dinner table said there wasn't much in the city and as it is mainly a container port they suggested going further afield by taxi or cruise excursion.  Walking around Colón is not recommended unless in large groups but there still isn't much to see.  Even the Wifi in the cruise terminal cost 3 or 4 dollars and the duty free shops were poor and expensive.  So not a lot to recommend it really.

It was easy to walk around Puerto Limon although we did get a downpour to dampen the spirits a little.  A couple of streets from the terminal you will find lots of local shops, bars and cafes.

This was a 35-night cruise and having done two previous 'long-ish' no-fly cruises from Southampton I have to mention the high proportion of very old and often mobility-impaired passengers on board.  P and O do a great job in providing facilities for such passengers and I think it's a great way for people with mobility issues to see the world in comfort and safety.  However, there is only a limited number of 'disabled' cabins on board and I understand why there needs to be a limit on numbers for safety reasons.  The problem now is that with the increasing availability of private electric 'scooters' more and more passengers are bringing their own on board (not in 'disabled' cabins) making movement around the ship more conjested.  Add to this the mostly elderly passengers on these cruises with walking sticks, crutches and wheelchairs and at times it was really hard work getting around the ship, particularly when trying to use a lift.  

I was on my way back to my cabin from Deck 5 with 3 other passengers.  On the way up the lift stopped at Deck 6 and a man in a large electric chair came in and wanted to go down to Deck 5.  One of the other passengers explained that the lift was going up to Deck 16 and he'd be better off waiting for another lift.  He refused and 'stood' his ground.  The lift stopped again at Deck 7 but passengers could not get in as the man again refused to move and he blocked the door.  Similarly I tried to get out at Deck 9 but again he stubbornly refused to move.  Each time the lift stopped at a different Deck we had the same issue including Deck 16 where the other passengers in the lift wanted to get out.  So we all went back down to Deck 5 stopping at just about every Deck en route where eventually the man in the electric chair finally got out.  

The other big problem with a large number of mobility-impaired passengers is getting on and off ship.  Even though P and O make announcements to direct such passengers to a particular gangway.  With only two gangways and 3000 passengers on Ventura, getting on and off ship was a problem with long delays.  It would make sense for P and O need to have at least three gangways.

One final point.  God forbid there should ever be a serious incident where passengers are needed to be evacuated from the ship similar to the Costa Concordia, but with the lifts out of action how on earth do all the 'mobility-impaired' passengers get off the ship?  I vividly remember the TV pictures of passengers climbing down ropes down the side of the ship's hull into small boats.  I asked myself, how many of the passengers on board Ventura would have been able to do the same.  I have no idea how many 'mobility-impaired' passengers there were on board.  I wonder if P and O knew!  You may not be aware of the 'step test' that passengers need to make before they are permitted to use a tender.  This involves a short step over a line on the flat part of a deck.  Passengers who can't do this are refused entry to the tender.

I know the vast majority of cruisers are of 'senior years' (I'm getting close to pension age myself) and no doubt there will be a certain amount of negative reaction to my comments but with regard to health, safety and enjoyment of all passengers there needs to be a little more consideration of these issues.  
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