So, now we’re familiar with P&O, why Ventura in particular? Honestly, for us sceptics, the choice may be made by the fact that, in the currently published schedules, Ventura seems to offer more short cruises than the rest of the P&O fleet combined.
Ventura, and close sister ship Azura are among the larger ships in the P&O fleet, topped only by new flagship Britannia. Although Ventura and Azura are based on the Grand Class platform of, sister line, Princess Cruises, they were originally built for P&O, in contrast to the smaller Oceana, which began life as Sun Princess, before being “re-themed”.
Although considerably larger than the adults-only ships in the P&O fleet (Oriana, Aurora and Adonia), carrying just over 3000 passengers, Ventura is really only a mid-size vessel in today’s world of 5000 passenger floating resorts. So, what’s on Ventura that you’ll find on all P&O ships, what’s unique to Ventura and what’s available on other members of the fleet that Ventura is missing?
Ventura doesn’t have quite as many dining options as Britannia, but more than the smaller ships. In addition to the main dining rooms and buffet, there are two specialty restaurants (Sindhu and Epicurean) as well as The Glass House - a wine bar serving “small plates” and other dishes for a modest cover charge. As you’ll discover in later installments of our review, these specialty restaurants are your friend.
In contrast to the smaller, more traditional, P&O ships, the “pub venue” is less traditional; screens showing sport and music videos replace wing-back chairs and tranquility. Think “6am in a Wetherspoon’s at Gatwick” rather than “thatched Cotswold coaching inn”.
There are four pools aboard Ventura, as well as multiple hot tubs. Crucially, for a ship that does a lot of short cruise sin the North Sea, one of Ventura’s pools can be enclosed by a retractable roof. There’s also an adults-only pool, open to all, next to The Retreat, an adults-only sun deck, featuring more comfortable loungers, which is only accessible upon payment of an additional charge.
Now, time to start looking back at the Ventura experience...