I had meant to write posts about both fellow travellers and disembarkation, but there really wasn’t enough to say.
The other guests aboard Ventura were exactly as you’d expect - the same mix of people you’d see in most British city centres. There were a lot of multi-generational family groups and a few large parties onboard for celebrations.
Disembarkation was simple. Only having to carry enough for two days, I chose to carry my own luggage off, and was back on dry land and behind the wheels of my car minutes after the gangway opened.
Writing an overview is more difficult. A couple of days on Ventura wasn’t an unpleasant experience, but it’s not one I would rush to repeat and I certainly wouldn’t want to spend more than a few days in that environment. As I’ve said before, if I was organising a stag party, hen party or any other large group celebration, I would consider this as an option, but I would be sure to book the extra-cost dining options - Sindhu one night, Epicurean the next.
For me, the poor standard of food was the standout memory of Ventura. Sadly, this view has been reinforced by a subsequent cruise on P&O’s sister brand, Carnival.
To be clear - the standard of included food on Carnival Triumph shames P&O.
I’m not talking about a preference for American-style food over British food or suggesting that P&O starts to major on fried chicken, I’m talking about a level of thought and care in preparation that’s in a different league.
Compare, if you will, the gelatinous profiterole horror served by P&O with Carnival’s chocolate melting cake. One is tasteless sludge dressed up as something pretty, the other is just delicious. And that sums up P&O for me - too much effort into pretending to be something they’re not while failing on basics.
Indeed, the vastly superior value proposition provided by Carnival, much to my surprise, has had a huge impact on my impression of this cruise on Ventura - I feel robbed.
I can’t help feeling that P&O is somewhat lost in the vast brand matrix of the Carnival Corporation. It has to be “British”, but downmarket of Cunard; this could have led to the sort of ‘modern with a nod to the past’ approach done so well by brands like Jaguar and Mini, or the informal luxury of Lime Wood Hotel, instead, they appear to be driving back into the 1950s.
For me, this offers nothing more than a convenient party venue with reasonably priced drinks. If P&O want to claim that things are different on longer cruises, then I have to ask if the revenue from these “taster” cruises is worth the damage it’s doing to their brand.