Cruise Review: Ventura Maiden Voyage 08

Apr 28, 2008 No Comments by

Thursday 17th April 2008

Well Im not 100% sure where this day started, due to a very heavy work load I somehow managed to work through the night! But hey it should be worth it because I believe that somewhere at the end of it there will be a cruise. Yes over 12 months ago I somehow managed to book us onto this brand new ship called Ventura. She has caused quite a stir this week in the news, with live TV news bulletins. The TV presenters must have been locked in a cupboard somewhere for the last 20 years because they seemed stunned that ships have things like swimming pools and west end style theatres onboard, not to mention al those bars. Yes they have all churned out the facts and figures this week and most of them have been wrong. Dame Helen Mirren named her last night, but oh dear, I don’t know who came up with the theme for the naming ceremony, but what a farce that was. A spoof James Bond theme with the baddies trying to get hold of the champagne, but the good old marines saved the day and got the bottles back then abseiled down the side of the ship to personally make sure that they broke, Dame Helen Mirren looked stunning, but she only said two lines and her bit was over. The rest of the events just made me cringe. Must try and find it on line somewhere and watch again, just to see if it was as bad as I thought it was.

Its all been very chaotic at home today. Work was finally completed at around lunch time, and then I got to venture beyond my office and see what utter chaos the house was in. Mountains of washing had accumulated on the sofa, mainly because it was the quickest and easiest place to throw it when it came out of the dryer, before the next of many loads went it. I did have the delusion that if it was there, someone else in the house would see it and fold and sort it for me, but I guess they just didn’t see it. Upstairs there was hardly an inch of floor space. Luckily I had packed my clothes last weekend, but that was all I had packed. I still needed to think about shoes, bags and all those other essential little items that you simply cant live without, even for two weeks. Time wasn’t on my side so easiest thing to do seemed to be, run around like a mad woman grabbing anything that I thought I needed, throw it on the bed, open two suitcases and start throwing it in. Next job was Mr C’s clothes, oh this was taking longer as I had to think about placing things in there relatively neatly.

Pressures on now, Mr C has just phoned to say he has managed to get off work early and is on his way home. He dares to ask if I am ready to go? He didn’t get a very good reaction to that question! The next hour or so was a blurr as I really was rushing around and multitasking to the max. Somehow managed a flying visit to see Mum. Flying visits don’t usually happen around there but somehow we got away with a quick Hello Goodbye.

That’s it we are off, heading for Southampton and Im shattered. Mr C had been wondering what the fleecy blanket was for well now he knows. He always drives with the car like a fridge. Is that a man thing? I don’t like it, I always whack the heat up and make like Im in the Caribbean, but not him. Its not long before Im all wrapped up and the seat is reclined and I can catch up on some long lost sleep. But wait he hasn’t got sat nav woman with him. Oh no! Im not confident that Mr C can find his way out of Coventry let alone all the way to Southampton, despite all the training he has had. I end up staying Awake all the way to junc 9 of the M40 because I know he cant go wrong now until the A34 finishes. I cant say that I slept, but at least my eyelids had a little rest until 25 miles before Southampton. In a blink of an eye we were heading over the flyover for Mr C’s first glimpse of Ventura, and she looked pretty impressive sat there all light up.

Amanda, Mick and Alistair were already at the Holiday Inn so a drink was waiting for me as soon as we got inside. A quick check in and I insisted Mr C took ALL the bags upto the room. Ooh this is a good start; we have got an upgrade to an Exec room. Cool.

Much frivolity and laughter followed through dinner. Amanda and Mick had done a quick survey of places close by and we all decided that it was just easier and quicker to eat in the hotel. Service was entertaining, sort of like a faulty towers sketch. Why he bought us the ‘specials’ menu and then told us there was no ‘specials’ left is beyond me. We ordered wine, but turns out they didn’t have bottles, only glasses of that sort. We slipped in a ‘while you wait’ course, but somehow the soup got there first, closely followed by the ‘while you wait course; lol. Bless him, the lad took some stick, but hey, we were on holiday. More drinks and then it was time for bed.

Friday 18th April

What am I like? Im like a big kid. At just gone 5 im awake. Its usually because im excited as I know Im going on a cruise, but this time around I think it was something to do with my body clock saying what the hell you doing trying to get some sleep? Its not long before Im raiding the mini bar – for orange juice that is!

QE2 is just tootling in and turning around. Guess I missed Oceana coming in but Im sure I will see her later.

Breakfast wasn’t brilliant this morning, which is unusual for this hotel. I think maybe the refurbishment is a new thing, and they seem to have all new staff too. So maybe they are all settling down.

Mr C and the gang went upto town for a few errands while I had a couple of bits of work to sort out. Despite having agreed an 11.00 am rendevous I was being dragged down stairs closer to 1030 and we all piled into the cars and headed for the docks.

The docks are in a bit of a state with a lot of internal roadworks and improvements taking place. We were directed to drive towards Oceana at City terminal (that is the only glimpse of Oceana I saw that day) and then drive back down towards Ventura. The men in bright green jackets were in their element today, directing traffic, holding traffic, shaking their head at traffic and generally being in charge of the traffic. After what seemed like an eternity we were invited to drive upto the CPS staff and unload the car. 1120 and the embarkation hall was full! And I mean full! We joined the Gold Portunus queue but that had snaked well beyond the doors and was close to the back of the hall. So we decided it might be quicker to join the main queue which was snaking back to the door also, but we figured that they had more desks to service them. The queue was entertaining, just for its general people watching capabilities and as we neared the front we were entertained by jugglers and mime artists. In all honestly both queues moved at about the same pace and we reckon that it would have taken about the same amount of time in the Gold queue as the one we took. We were invited to embark through the baggage hall, up the escalator and straight onto the ship. People were still going the original way but having the two entrances seemed to work and get us on that little bit quicker. Cabins were ready as soon as we boarded, but hey why would we want to go to our cabin? We headed straight for the Tamarind Club for our gold Portunus drinks. Oh this is it, the cruise is starting to feel real now. A few champagnes and soggy crisps and I didn’tt have to pinch myself, I know I really am on a P&O cruise! Drinks were plentiful and the boys looked after us well. Some people were getting their backs up though because they said they weren’t being served, but they were all mobbing the poor lads trays before they made it onto the floor.

At about 3.00pm we decided we should head to the cabin. I opened the door and was in shock, not because al the cases were there but because the room was vibrating, and even the mirrors had got a judder on. What was all that about? We were perfect midships, had cabins above and below? Of dear I cant stop in here if this continues. First stop is reception desk and the accommodation officer agrees to go and take a look.

Time to do a quicks ships tour and show Mr C and Amanda & Mick the highlights. We had trouble pulling the lads out of the kids room, Mick is a bit of a whiz on the old table football, but me and Amanda were playing with a team with no feet, and they kept missing the ball! I don’t think we got very far before food and drinks became involved. Pimms is cocktail of the day today so I enjoy one of those by the covered pool while they eat.

Straight after muster drill, accommodation are on the phone to advise that he has no idea what the problem with our cabin is, he has been to inspect it and agrees it is gong to disturb us, and we are moved to an obstructed cabin on D deck aft. We have a fairly good view to be honest and the cabin next door has an excellent clear view so they must be happy. So our new home is now E628.

No time to unpack, just time for a quick shower and we grab some clean clothes and head upstairs.

At 8.00pm we are being Christened on the dockside so I want to be up on deck. But the offer of free champagne has sent the whole ship out there and it is packed beyond belief. There is no chance of a lift so we have to walk upto deck 16. its freezing cold and blowing a gale, but after 12 months of waiting I am determined to stand and watch this event. We were slightly back from midship and the band and stage seemed like ants. Nigel Esdale made a speech wishing us all well, but in my opinion he could have thought about his words a little more carefully. I still have “you will be the FIRST to sail on Ventura, the FIRST to sleep in her beds, The FIRST to eat in her dining rooms ….” Ringing through my ears! Was he trying to wind me up?! Then we were blessed but before Mr Esdale could finish his closing sentence he was blasted out by the ships horn and covered in ticker tape from the confetti cannons.   We moved away from the dockside effortlessly and we were on our way. We have no idea how spectacular our sail away was or whether we had water cannon escort as we were to far aft and just needed to get inside and warm up. Mick had been sat in Metropolis and had had free flowing chamapgne all the time we were outside getting blown to shreds. I have to say that we all found sailaway a little bit stressful, just trying to fight for an inch of deck space. And it was so annoying to see all the balconies below us empty, but then people will head for the public decks if they think there is a glass of free champagne to be had. Just as we past Portsmouth we had a firework display in our honour, but as I had just trecked to the cabin to tidy my hair I wasn’t risking going outside again. I could feel the bangs of the fireworks from Metropolis, so I had to be content with that.

We had a fantastic table in the Saffron restaurant, table 43 right in the centre. Joseph and Nelson did and excellent job and the food and service were excellent. No signs of first night teething problems.

Alistair and Mr C went to the late night comedy club in Tamarind, but they wouldn’t  listen to me when I said they were dire. We arrived just to find them two leaving their seats having suffered the first 10 minutes. I managed one drink before bed, but I was dead beat.

Saturday 19th April

We put the clocks forward last night but Im still on UK time, because Im still in work mode and I need ensure that people back in the office can get hold of me if they have any queries about Gold booking day. Breakfast is delivered ontime but it was a little on the cold side. Might try it again at some point.  As expected the bookings are all dealt with fast and efficiently and I breath a sign of relief when I know everything is confirmed. I carry my lap top around with me all day and do a couple of late bookings.

An announcement is made to say that Aurora will pass down our starboard side so we go and take up position in Metropolis on the Starboard wing. We watch her appear over the horizon and steadily get closer and closer, naturally we had to order drinks during our wait! It was a beautiful sunny day with a relatively calm sea and she looked fantastic. As she came alongside we all dashed out onto the deck below. Well, I had to just for the blasting of horns – oooh I love it! It looked like every single passenger was out on the decks of Aurora to wave to us, the railings were crammed.

We had lunch in the Cavern. Five course Tapas meal for £5 washed down with traditional sangria. Somehow we ended up in the Red bar after that and the lads moved onto brandy Alexander cocktails, but hey while they are all busy enjoying themselves Im trying to work and sought out a couple of issues that P&O have created. P&O closed bookings at 5.00pm so it was time for me to also close the lap top and head for the cabin. A sleep would have been good , but we needed to unpack and get sorted out. Oh dear the storage space in these cabins isn’t brilliant. I love the open plan wardrobe and the fact that you can see hats what, but apart from that you have a cupboard with some very narrow shelves and that’s your lot.

I did a bit of admin and sent a couple of emails as we are lucky that wifi works in our cabin. Then had a shower. Oh dear that’s when the penny dropped. I had been on UK time all day, in line with P&O reservations and the time on my laptop, but we put the clocks forward an hour last night and it was already 7.45pm ship time.

We were supposed to have been meeting for pre dinner drinks 15 minutes ago in Ramblas so now I was in panic mode. I kicked Mr C out of bed, and sent him on his way. In all honesty I didn’t do too bad as I was ready and in a posh frock for formal night by 8.15pm. Doors for dinner didn’t open until 10 to 9 and we don’t have any dinner announcements, not so sure I like that. I prefer to stay in a bar until dinner is called and then give them 5 minutes to clear before we head down, but hey it meant we fitted in 15 minutes people watching from the atrium.

We were hosted this evening by the best loyalty manager at sea, Justin. What a fab host he is and we were very much the last people to leave the restaurant.

I could quite happily have headed straight for my bed, but we had to treck to Metropolis for a night cap. I managed two nightcaps, but knew I really must go to my bed. Mr C and Alistair went to Havana for a taste of the nightclub and as much as I wanted too I just couldn’t.

Sunday 20th April

Oh Sunday, it must be officially declared a day of rest. No work for me today. Im on holiday and the last few weeks have been manic!

Not surprisingly the whole day seemed to evolve around just taking it easy on a bar stool of some shape or form. There was a CC meet arranged today at Noon in Metropolis, which quite by accident seemed to happen all around our barstools. Avalon was a very happy chappy that the event took place here. There were some interesting ‘characters’ but a most enjoyable time was had by all.

It was a lovely bright sunny day, many people were already sunbathing, but the effort involved in finding a sun lounger etc was all to much for me. Instead we took up residence by Breakers bar and had lunch al fresco washed down with a Pimms. I had a stroll around up on top deck, just to be nosey and there were some nice little sun traps up there. Im not sure why people expressed concern about row after row of sunlounger etc, because so far I haven’t seen much evidence of that. All areas seem fairly small and not too over loaded with chairs.

After a nice afternoon siesta its time for pre dinner drinks in Ramblas. Im not impressed that the officers dress code for informal night is just shirt and tie without jacket so we ensure that Darren, first engineer, takes plenty of stick for that.

Cocktails in doody glasses in Red Bar. Hey John Wayne serves us! Havent seen him for a while. We were going to go to watch Legend in Havana but every time one of us went down for a reckie it was rammed so we just stayed put, but we did make it in there later for a bit of a boogie. Uncle Mick was on top form and ready to take on the whole dance floor. I went for my first stroll on Prom deck. No it isn’t a wide teak prom deck, but again I cant see what people are griping about? Its still a wrap around, albeit up some stairs, and it has ample space.

Monday 21st April

Oh dear, Monday morning so plenty of work to do today. Im completely wrapped up in my work until Noon when I get called to Metropolis for the WLC meeting. This one is a very exclusive meeting with only very select members attending lol. It’s a beautiful day and the aft decks are busy with sunworshipers. Meanwhile in Metropolis, after 3 days in London we have moved onto Las Vegas, but in a blink of an eye we skip over to Shanghi. Oh well that’s another cocktail to sample. My break is soon over and I have to return to my lap top in the cabin. Another hour at the desk and what do you know, the WLC meeting at the bar is still very much in full swing! At 4.00pm I managed to drag them out for some lunch, while Jan & Malc must have gone and started getting ready for Captains Gala reception as they were on first sitting. Tapas in the Cavern is good, but the menu doesn’t change so that was a little disappointing. Think they need to do something a little more inspiring if they want to attract some custom as it seems very under used. Maybe the £5 cover charge puts most off?

I just about had time for one of those power sleeps before pulling myself out of bed and putting the glad rags on.

Black & While night tonight and the Gala Cocktail drinks in the Atrium. Now,standing around in a stairwell for a glass of bubbly has never appealed to me so if that is the best they can do Im not interested in attending. Instead we all head upto metropolis for Belinis in our favourite little spot, much more civilised.

Dinner isn’t until 8.45 so we all have time to just chill out.

Service seemed a little eratic this evening, not quite sure what all that is about, but we aren’t in any hurry.

Black & white ball was on in Tamarind and that’s where the girls thought we were heading but the boys decided we were having drinks in Red bar. The big red sofa about finished me off! They are very comfy, too comfy and make you just want your bed.

A stroll on deck with a beautiful full moon gleaming on the sea, and that was it another day over.

Tuesday 22nd April

Barcelona

Ok this is our first call on THE Maiden cruise so at silly o’clock Im out of bed, dressed and on the front of prom deck. Ive seen ferries have a better sail in. Nothing, zilch, diddly squat!!! No fire boat escort, no welcome on the dockside nobody about, nothing! Well lets hope that sailaway is a little more special hey!!!

Back at the cabn Mr C has ordered breakfast for me as he knows I have work to do, ahh bless.

Work is done and dusted as fast as I can, so its time for some time off ashore. No queue to disembark or for a shuttle bus but then Im guessing that most of the passengers are long gone. There was a girl in local traditional dress greeting us and I could see a stage in the car park so maybe there was a bit of a welcome for us?

Ramblas was very busy with lots of police presence due to a Man United game tomorrow night. We had a walk to the top of Ramblas before meeting up with Amanda and Mick. We had decided that we were going for Chicken and chips (as we missed out in Lisbon at new year) not very Spanish I know, but it was on our to do list. We stopped by the Irish pub to ask directions and the boys were delighted to see Johns Smiths and cider on draught. Chicken and chip place was found, more or less in the area I thought it was, but not saying I would ever have found it. What a place full of character. You had to walk through the kitchens to be seated in the restaurant. The meal was lovely but I have to say not quite as good as Lisbon and it was a lot more expensive, but hey!

I couldn’t wait to get back to the ship and get in the sunshine properly. We headed for deck 16 by the Breakers Bar, the lads sat at the tables and chairs enjoying a beer or 3 and I had no trouble finding some beds and dragging them over to an empty bit of deck space. Miami Vice cocktails today – ooh that’s a new one! The sunshine was glorious and very very welcome and I made sure I caught as many rays as I could. It took the deck hands quite a while to haul the flags in as it’s a pretty long ship to have to haul them in from!

Sail away party started on the deck below and quickly spread to our deck. The ents team did work their socks off to make that party a memorable one, but then they had to! Our daily news sheet advised us to be up on deck as Barcelona gave us a spectacular sailaway never to be forgotten!!! Mmmm…… it was memorable or right. Not a sole on the dockside, even the dockworkers didn’t hang about, they had seen it all before and were home for their tea. No fire boats nothing! So much for it being a Maiden cruise hey!

Me and Amanda decide a Jacuzzi is a good idea, which it was, but it wasn’t when we decided to get out into the chilly evening breeze! Goodness knows if my bikini will survive but the water did manage to strip the polish off my toe nails! Fortunately I kept my finger nails well out of the water.

Pre dinner drinks in Metropolis this evening were for sunset in Paris with Mimosa champagne cocktails – ooh very nice! You get hor derves too served from a silver platter – seems they might have got some of the elevation touches right!

Justin joined us for pre dinner drinks, drinks with the Chadwick party can always bring you back to reality lol.

Darren joins us for dinner and Kaths birthday celebration. Oh Darren did take some ribbing this evening, but then he asked for it lol. We were most defiantly the loudest table in the restaurant tonight, there was no doubt about that. The other tables must wonder what the hell we find to laugh about! As per usual we are the very last to leave.

No here’s a first…. Jane goes to the theatre!! Jimmy Carr had been flown in for the evening so it seemed rude not to go, and the younger generation of my family tell me hes hilarious! I will admit, he was funny but I didn’t laugh my head off quite to the extent that Mr C did! Oh he thought he was hilarious, but then my type of comedy is a bit more Norman Wisdom than Jimmy Carr! He refused to come back and do an encore or even take a bow, maybe that’s his style?

We had a quiet drink in the Red Bar with Alistair and then headed for bed. Although we did walk through Tamarind and that was still kicking wit the 60’s & 70’s night. Havana was blasting out the music but that had turned into a crew bar for the evening by the look of it!

An so to bed

Wednesday 23rd April

Villefranche

This is why you don’t have a cabin on E deck by choice. They were lowering those dam lifeboats and messing about out there from what seemed like the crack of dawn, but that together with a bit of bow thrusting and it was a bloody noisy wakeup call!

But hey, what a view, inbetween the lifeboat, Villefranch is so pretty and we are facing the bay. Its glorious sunshine again, and deep blue sea.

Time to switch into work mode for an hour or two. Mr C keeps popping back to the cabin to see how far I have progressed with work and it seems its all kicking off out there. Tickets for tenders have to be collected from Tamarind Club, and as the queue is massive he has already done that. We have been allocated tender 21 – tender number 4 has just departed and that has taken an hour, so looks like we are in for a wait. Amanda and Mick witness grown men bickering and on the verge of fisticuffs until an officer steps in. Seems its all getting pretty heated out there, just as well that I only have P&O reservations to get ratty with! An hour or so later Im finished work, and ready for some breakfast or at least a coffee from the coffee shop on here, but just as we are walking through Tamarind, tender 21 is invited to make their way down to the tender station. Ahhh perfect timing, we are at the front of the queue.

Just a short tender ride over to Villefranche and its warm and sunny. Need a bank this morning, because they will no longer cash a cheque for you onboard. Instead you have to charge cash advances to your cabin. Not ideal for us as I have a credit not a debit card registered because I have a maestro (switch) card registered and they only accept Visa debit. The search for a cash point soon falls by the wayside because we take a seat at one of the lovely little restaurants on the front and order drinks. Strawberry daiquiri is the perfect breakfast this morning. A couple of drinks later, we decide to eat here, and we have two big plates of nibbles with fries. It was just yummy! As we had been in Villfranche for hours we decided to have a stroll along the front, then a little walk in the back streets, but we didn’t get very far because we ended up in what must be the tiniest restaurant in south of France! They did scrummy crepes though. Yum yum!

There was a huge queue for the tenders back, but it wasn’t as bad as feared because the port authorities had laid on two bigger boats and we were on the next boat.

After my early morning wake up call, I needed a sleep so I was straight under the duvet.

Pre dinner drinks in Las Vegas in Metropolis and another cocktail to go with it. We were entertained by a very low flying helicopter hovering all around us for ages taking photos of us.

Dinner this evening has been booked for East. We are allocated the two tables of four in the ‘wedding booth’ and we couldn’t have wished for better position. Justin was once again the perfect host. We loved the glasses and all the nice little touches on the tables. The service as we expected, was very attentive and slick. I enjoyed all of the food that I ordered and our company was exceptional. If they change the menu in here I would chose to eat in her again and thought the £15 per head cover charge was acceptable. Mr C had to slip out like a ghost because he just couldn’t keep his eyes open.

We stopped by the Tamarind Club tonight for some nightcaps. Sometimes we walk past here and its packed others it is very under used. The waters this evening are tripping over themselves to serve us.

I stuck my head in Havanna on the way to bed but it was being used as the crew bar again! And they cant half give you some funny looks if they think you are going to stay!

Thursday 24th April

Livorno

My morning was a total wipe out thanks to work today.  We had hoped to go into Pisa but it just didn’t happen. In fact I didn’t even make it into Livorno. I got outside at around noon and it was wall to all sunshine. We took up residence on loungers by the Breakers Bar and that was pretty much it for the rest of the day. I had a couple of walk around the decks today and people really don’t need to fear about being able to get deck space. There were a lot of passengers onboard this afternoon, but twice as many vacant sun beds. The top deck does have wall to wall sun longers, which looks awful, row after row, but to be honest nobody uses them.

I went into the pool with Amanda to cool down but heck it was scarey. Im not the biggest lover of water and to be able to touch the bottom of the pool is a comfort to me. The only entry to the pool is via a ladder in the deep end. That states its 5’ 11” deep but Amanda couldn’t even find the bottom by going under the water. I clung to the side of the pool for my life. Amanda ventured down to the 3’ shallow end but when she stood on the bottom and stretched her arm up, I could only just see her finger tips! So I didn’t stick that for too long.

We are having one of those long awaited spectacular sailaways this evening from Livorno with traditional entertainment on the quay side. So I decide to shower and come back to watch it. Oh dear why did I bother. Some green mats on the dirty uneven dockside is the stage, with a back drop of rusty old cages and storage units. I blinked and missed the opening act. That was described as some scantily clad young ladies in suspenders kicking their legs about. Next we had some pilates – Ooh the excitement! And as we pulled away we had some Spanish dancers!!! Could have sworn we were in Italy! Certainly, not quite what I expected for our spectacular sailaway. Im yet to see a fire boat escort and something remotely verging on the spectacular. ‘Spectacular’ is the word used by passenger relations to describe the experience we will have this cruise, but it just hasn’t managed to find its way from paper to reality yet!

Pre dinner drinks in Metropolis is in New York tonight. Im not keen on the special cocktail but the hors deurves are to die for, so I have plenty of those.

Dinner this evening back in the restaurant with Darren, lol he makes us giggle, I think that’s because he’s ‘windswept and interesting’ as usual we are the loudest and the last to leave.

Drinks in the red bar. I really like this bar and love the glasses, a cosmo lasts me 2 rounds they are huge!

Friday 25th April

Santa Margerita

Oh stressful morning with work this morning but it has to be sometimes. The ships tenders seemed to be a much more slick operation this morning for getting ashore and I didn’t hear of any long queues or fights today. We made it ashore at lunch time and jumped straight on the ferry to Portafino. €8 return on the ferry and it took about 15 minutes. Portafino was very busy as it was a bank holiday, but it was a lovely day and we sat at a coupe of bars in the pretty little bay. The lads had a bit of heart failure when me and Amanda ordered a couple of Bellini’s – well we weren’t to know that they were €30 EACH!! Ooops! For those of you who haven’t been to Portafino it is well worth it. It is one of those very few pretty unspoilt little corners of the Mediterranean. Never really had chance to look at Santa Margarita today as our tender was waiting when the ferry docked and so we hopped from one to the other and were soon back on Ventura. Straight back onboard and upto top deck for liquid refreshment and pizza. That’s a another thing you must try – Frankies Pizza! Very scrummy.

Informal night tonight, but Im not impressed that the Captain has relaxed the officers dress code. Darren arrived for dinner feeling very uncomfortable because his dress rig sheet informed him that the Captains decision for their informal rig was short sleeved open neck shirt, while all the lads at the table were in suit and tie and us ladies were in cocktail dresses. A wrong decision by the Captain in my opinion. A quiet after dinner drink in Red Bar followed dinner, but most seemed to have gone to bed early as its an early start for most in Rome tomorrow.

Saturday 26th April

Civitavechia

A very special day in our cruise today, as we arrive in Civitavecchia because we are being met by an old family friend and taken out for the day to visit Viterbo, where my father spent a lot of his war years. Giovanni arrived dead on 10.00am as promised and its just as well that he knew some English because my Italian is virtually non existent.

We were taken first to Tuscania to the church of St Peter. This place was built around 700 and it was actually fascinating even for me. We then drove onto Viterbo which is a very old medieval town. The countryside that we drove through was absolutely beautiful and the walled city of Viterbo which greeted us was also worth the journey. As well as being shown places that my Dad would have frequented, and places that I recognised from Dads very old black and white photos we also visited every quarter of the old town, including palaces, towers and churches. Viterbo is built on top of a hill and has very cobbled streets so my choice of shoe this morning wasn’t exactly a good one! Giovanni has written 7 books about Viterbo and his latest contained 1200 photographs all taken by himself. Afterwards Giovanni took us t his home for lunch prepared by his wife Tina. I hadn’t seen Tina since August 1970 and our communication was even harder as she spoke no English. Their daughter turned out to be an excellent translator though. They had a beautiful home designed by Giovanni overlooking 7 hills. Lunch was fantastic and it was washed down by various wines and liquors which almost knocked me out. Back in the car I had to pull down my sunglasses over my eyes and rest my eyelids – hopefully Giovanni never noticed. On our way back we were taken to a hot natural spring and some ancient tombs that were believed to be the gateway from one life to another. My feet and eyelids were killing me so I rested both, then magically I woke up back at the port of Civitavechia. I have a had a wonderful and memorable day today, made all the more special by Giovanni’s generosity to show us all these wonderful places and his families welcome into their home.

Straight back on the ship, shoes off and straight to a bar for a refreshing beverage.

Pirates had already taken over the pool in preparation for tonights Plunder show and pirate party, and the set was pretty impressive.

Pirate wear was very much order of the day this evening and Mr C got well into it with his kit supplied by auntie Amanda. Even the shop onboard sold pirate accessories so many made the effort tonight. Amanda even got her arms tatoo’d especially for the event. Justin joined us for dinner this evening and we all had a good giggle as usual. There is never a dull moment at table 43, and I really don’t know if the surrounding tables approve or not? Justin leaves his dagger with the waiters with a message inscribed on it for Darren, to be presented at the next dinner he attends.

The 3rd and last Plunder Pirate show on deck was at 1045 and I expected it to be packed out but it was easy to get a spot to watch. The show was very good and contained a bit of everything. They have a totally separate theatre company on Ventura to the rest of the fleet and it shows. The sets and performances were far superior to that of the other ships in the fleet. It wasn’t the warmest of Mediterranean evenings but I would imagine in the summer this deck party would be a roaring success. I think a deck party followed the show but we didn’t hang around and literally jogged upto Metropolis for some drinks to warm up. We could see the flashing lights from the party by the pool in the distance, but we were happy where we were.

Sunday 267h April

I decided to keep the curtains shut tight last night in the hope that it would keep me asleep longer this morning but it didnt quite work. I just woke up frustrated at not knowing what time it was or what the weather was doing! I got out of bed and threw back the curtains much to Mr C’s annoyance lol. Oh dear the sun is blasting through the window, what a shame.

I was on deck before 9 this morning but there was rather a breeze across he open deck and it was a bit cutting. Strangely enough the smokers side of the ship had no breeze, but I wasn’t going to swap sides. We decided to go to Tazzine and have a coffee. What a popular little place that is, right in the heart of the ship.

Decided to go back to the cabin and catch up with a bit of work, well a bit turned into rather a lot! At 2.00pm I decided that I might like to attend the Gold Portunus ‘Special event’ Now for those of you that weren’t here from the start, you should be aware that our ‘special event’ has caused a bit of controversy this cruise! No Gold lunch this cruise, which at first I was quite pleased about because ‘lunch’ several times a year doesn’t really do it for me, but there are others, new to the Gold tier that were also disappointed because they were looking forward to their first Gold Lunch on a Maiden cruise. So anyway, someone, high up in the powers that be, shoreside in the mighty P&O towers head office decided that they would give us an extra special ‘Gold event’ and provide us with seething ‘different’ so what dd they organise for us? An invitation to listen to Michael Portillo in the theatre! Mmmm.. well…. I lasted all of 5 minutes! I don’t do politics, and went purely out of curiosity, but I don’t think it was the wisest idea that P&O have ever had!

I joined Mr C and Alistair in Rambals for Tapas and drinks and nipped back to the theatre, as and when, just to see if things got better. No he was still drivelling on about his political career, or whatever it was that he did that made him famous?

I had a really big, long awaited sleep this afternoon and everything seemed very rushed after that. I was no sooner at Hong Kong in Metropolis, than I was being whisked off to the first ever ‘Senior officers Private Party’ Michael Portillo came over for a chat, but I was left wondering what planet he was on?! He asked some very bizarre questions like ’what deck do you cruise on?’ I told him ‘F deck usually’ so Im guessing that must make me some sort of a pleb? We scraped into dinner just before 9.00pm this evening, joined by Darren, who despite how tired and over worked he may be, he never fails to be windswept and interesting!

Entertainment this evening was dire!! It was formal night and also ‘Latino’ night, but we failed to see what was latino about it? Two more dreadful comedians on in Tamarnd Club, who died on their arse faster that their predecessors. A music quiz in Red Bar, which resulted in me kept being told to Shhhhhhh….! A comedien lady in Theatre who might have been funny, but as I don’t do comedy I cant really comment. But oh dear, in Havana we had a punk rock band!!!!!! Why???!! Has to be the question? A bloody punk American band in cargo shorts and t shirts on a formal night on a maiden cruise of a British superliner aimed at the 40+ age group – I just cant get my noodle around it!

We decided to turn in for an early’ish night, and I fully expected to find a ham baquette and apple pie on the bed for Mr C when we got it. He ordered it at 5 this afternoon and we are still waiting!

Monday 28th April

Alicante

Another beautiful hot sunny morning as I threw back the curtains. We decided to try breakfast in the restaurant this morning and we were shown to a table for two. Well, that’s if you can call it a table for two? It was a long bank of tables for two with sofa style seating on one side and a chair at the other, but they were all so close together that it was more like being on a long table of 16. I actually felt more uncomfortable than being at a larger table, because you didn’t know if the other people on the tables for two had chosen that so that they didn’t have to communicate with anyone else. We had ‘hinge & bracket ‘ to one side of us. Gordon Bennet, one didn’t half nag at the other! It was quite amusing really!

I hear there was a bit of a scuffle in the queue for the shuttle bus this morning and it certainly was huge when we looked out at it. But by the time we were ready to disembark there was no queue and we walked straight onto the bus. But due to the amount of building work in the dock area we were on that bus for 30 minutes and I wasn’t a happy bunny by the time we got off. Why P&O selected this place as a port of call on a Maiden cruise is beyond me! It has literally nothing to offer, not even a decent shopping area. We wandered along the prom and then back again in search of a few shops to keep me happy, but there simply weren’t any. Oh this is better, we stumbled across a very pretty little square in full sunshine and a couple of bars and restaurants. No need to go any further then! Beer for Alistair and Mr C and a jug of Sangria for me. We were even entertained by the odd street musician so very pleasant! We had just decided to move on when Justin texted to see if we were ashore, so off we trotted to collect him and back to our little spot in the sun. We had a lovely relaxed meal in the sunshine and I actually felt quite chilled. Their Paella looked very nice and they said it was delicious but me and Alistair played it a little more safe. Another jug of sangria washed it down very nicely. Back around to the front and we had a very scrummy ice cream each. Time for a paddle in the sea. Jeepers, is the sea always that cold in the Med? Alistair enjoyed the paddle and the ‘sights’ so he was a happy chappy too! Some people were brave enough to risk a full dip in the sea, but oh no, not for us thank you very much. There wasn’t a queue for the bus, but by the time it had fought its way through the roadworks etc there was. Some of the crew were very agitated as they knew they were going to be late for work.

Back on deck and so to Breakers Bar. Mick and Amanda were already back and enjoying a beverage in the sun. We like it up here and it has become our favourite daytime haunt.

Decided to do pre dinner drinks in Ramblas this evening as we were in Spain. It’s a lovely bar, but the whole ambience of the place is shattered when the first sitting of the theatre turns out and the audience charge through like they have a train to catch!

We arrive at dinner this evening and Im handed a note by the waiter. Im not allowed to read it until all are seated. Im waiting to see which host turns up for the evening but neither emerge and the waiter advises that I should read what is written on the card. Our Loyalty Manager and our 1st engineer are having a dual on the open decks (we all oooooh) only one will survive (we all ahhhhh) and when we clap loudly the victor will emerge (we all clap loudly) out of a hazy mist our triumphant Loyalty Manager emerges the Hero!!! (we clap and cheer louder) the tables around us are totally bemused by what the hell is going on, they haven’t got a clue, but I bet some of them wish they were having as much fun as we are. Nelson fetches Justin an arm chair and seats Justin at the table like a king. Who needs entertainment when we have table 43?

Tuesday 29th April

Gibraltar

Yes, its wall to wall sunshine again. We are up and dressed nice and early today and decide to join the scrum that gathers to disembark. It is much more civilised to wait until they have all departed but we fancied a bit of entertainment this morning. The usual pushing and shoving, followed by shouts from the back, to not allow anyone to push in from different stairwells or incoming lifts. I really would hate to have to disembark in a hurry with any of these people.

We were greeted by 4 soldiers from the local re enactment society, not quite the spectacular welcome we had hoped for at each port, but it was what we had all come to expect now. Why should the last port be any different to the rest? We walked into town and it wasn’t too busy at first. We walked to the top of main street and turned around and came back empty handed. The street was very busy by now as Thomson Celebration had also disembarked its passengers too. Decided to stop of at the Admiral Nelson to allow Mr C a pint! That quickly turned into another plus a plate of nacho’s, then Mr Holden emerged from the sea of shoppers and that was another pint. I did keep up with them in vodkas but also managed to multitask and do a bit of retail therapy inbetween rounds.  I was starting to panic a little and began to wonder what time we were sailing, so had to text the ship. Eventually I got them into a shuttle bus and back down to the ship, I turned my back for 10 seconds in the queue to get back onboard and they were in the terminal drinking beer again! We were almost the very last to embark.

Straight back up on deck and the sailaway party was already in full swing! As expected the gang were at Breakers Bar, and Mr C and Dave couldn’t wait to get another pint – oh dear its going to get messy. The ents team pulled out all the stops and it was a very good, and loud sailaway party! But we didn’t get our water cannon sailaway as promised in the daily newspaper!

I managed to find a sunlounger and settled down for a rest while the party continued around me. Eventually Mr C came and passed out on the lounger next me. He slept like a baby for a while, but he was soon awake and in want of more drink, oh dear I think hes on a mission.

Informal night tonight, our last one and I still have half a dozen dresses to choose from. A decision is made and off we trott to Metropolis to see which sunset over which city we have this evening. I love the themed cocktails and Avalon is usually preparing one for me as I enter.

Dinner with our windswept and interesting Engineers, oh we have to give him a bit more stick about his dress code. No jacket! On an informal night?! Oh tut tut!! But the Captain makes the orders for dress code so they are only doing what they are told. Darren is finally presented with his dagger left by Justin the loyalty manager a few nights earlier. Oh he sees the funny side (Phew) and I think a challenge has been set! What will they get upto next? Darren is soon off to his cabin to do some plotting!

Its late night comedy club in Tamarind again, and the lads seem pretty convinced that they will be funny comedians this evening. I have no idea where P&O have got these comedians from, but funny they aint! After the one I watched the other night doing balloon animals they can only get better surely? I sat at the bar with Alistair, Mr C and Mr H, but it wasn’t long before the bloke on stage was dying on his ass. I wandered upto Areana Theatre to see the main comedian act (not much choice about tonight, either this or the punk band!) he seemed funny and was making the room chuckle, so I fetched the lads and we watched the rest of the show from the back of the theatre. Then it was out into the Red Bar, my favourite for a nice chilled out cosmopolitan and some people watching. I spot the Executive Purser and I need to ask him a big favour and special permission for something. He is like my fairy godmother and my wish is granted! What a nice man. Now I have to sit and write letters, good job the reception desk is still open at silly o’clock to provide me with paper and envelopes. Mission accomplished and the letters are in the post.

Wednesday 30th April

At Sea

The ship is doing a little bobbing about today, there is quite a swell but because the ship is so big you don’t notice it quite so much when you just look at the sea. As we wander around the ship is making some right old creeking and banging noises, very noticeable in the shops and forward by Tazzine. Tazzine is always busy no matter what time we arrive, but we never have a problem getting a seat or getting served. Me and Amanda hit the shops, somehow Ive just never had the time before. There is some different things in the shops, but the same old £10 bargains too. At least they do there ‘market stalls’ a little more tastefully on here.

We had lunch in the Saffron Restaurant today. I had jacket potato with mango and chicken salsa and very nice it was too. Same cant be said for the spotted dick which was basically a lump of suet pudding with 6 loose currants thrown ontop. Oh well it saved another inch on my waistline.

Mr C and Amanda decide that they have built up enough staminer now to go and try the bungee trampoline – oh this should be fun! It wasn’t busy up there because it was a little bit bouncy on the sea today. Im surprised it was open, but it was so they had no excuse. Mr C was first and he did go pretty high, higher than I would have done if my back hadn’t been poorly (phew thank goodness for bad backs!) Amanda’s next – why did she think she was going to miss the trampoline on the way back down? There was a lot of amusing squeals and eeks that’s for sure. So Amanda and Mr C have officially joined the circus now!

Portunus Party in the covered pool area tonight. Wouldn’t have been my first choice of venue but at least it was cool and airy. On oh what a lovely sight outside on the starboard side. Queen Victoria was sailing alongside us back to Southampton surrounded by a rainbow – yes that was an impressive back drop organised by the loyalty manager. Justin is introduced up on the upper deck by Neil, and BANG!! Alistair finds a balloon to stamp on (Yes Captain it was him!) Justin is sharp and quick on the uptake though and fakes a shooting – its lost on most people though. He is my favourite of Loyalty Managers though and is by far the best loyalty manager at sea. He is always smiling, always meeting and greeting and always on the ball. I sometimes wonder if others realise what a tough job a Loyalty Manager has? Its not the breeze that some people seem to think it is!

Darren is out of the engine control room, looking as wind swept and interesting as ever, and at last he has his formal mess kit on! Must be because it’s a special occasion and table 43 is the place to be this evening.

We thought dinner would have been put back until 8.45 tonight but we are wrong, and at 5 to 9 we decide we really should leave the best party at sea and make our way to dinner. The table is set for 9  places this evening. Two officers at the table, opposite each other. We present both Justin and Darren (or should that be Darren and Justin) with some special little gifts as tokens of our appreciation for being the most amazing table hosts we could ever wish for. They have really made our Maiden Cruise stand out as being extra special, and this is a table that we will never ever forget. They love their gifts, and for once are totally speechless. They go outside for yet another dual and return with a bottle of Verve Cliquot! Not sure who won because we sort of got side tracked by the champers! It was a hoot of a night. I don’t know how we found time to eat? We just laugh and laugh until we look around again and the restaurant has emptied. Nelson and Joseph are hinting that they really would like to go to their beds now, so it must be time for a drink somewhere?

Metropolis is an excellent choice on the starboard wing. We are all in party mode and it’s a little bit quiet so Mr C fetches our ‘Flying monkey’ from the cabin. He should liven things up a bit, but no, some passengers are not amused!

Time to hit the Red Bar! Cosmopolitan for me please, oooh I love the glasses they serve the special drinks in. We all try and avoid the last day by staying up as long as possible, but eventually we cave in. We stick our head in Havanna on our way to bed and one of the passengers advised me that all the water cannon escort boats were in earlier doing a show on the empty dance floor – dam I missed them again! Havanna just hasn’t worked since Legends left. I think the US Half Pipes clear the room pretty fast and the passengers just don’t return.

Thursday 1st May

At Sea

Its that day again! Packing day. Im tempted to do it before we leave for breakfast but I just cant face it. We head for Waterside for Breakfast. Im not a lover of the self service buffet areas, why do I always forget to pick up cutlery? All the passengers around me seem to me having a good old whinge about the ship today – oooh its not like Aurora. Yep, its time to retreat to the cabin and start some packing, that puts me in a bad mood. One case done and im out of the door again. Bit of a meeting up in the Crows Arse again, and the lads seem to be on a bit of a mission again today! Im not best pleased when Mr c has yet another drink (he should be helping me pack) and then when he has another that sends me right over the edge!

He decides its probably best to take me to lunch, he orders a nice pizza from Frankies and I feths the salad from Beachcombers. The weather today is lovely and sunny and so we head upto the tables and chairs at Breakers Bar and sit in the sunshine and dine al fresco. Its chilly, but easy to catch the rays today, but no time for sunbathing. We have to pack. It didn’t take long once I put my mind to it and that meant time for retail therapy. I collect up a few little items, then its coffee time. I commandeer one of the nice soft chairs in the bottom of the atrium and order a hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows, oh yummy! Then I spot the marshmallow covered toffee apples. Alistair and Mr C really do think I wont be able to eat it, but I manage it no problem.

We are invited for pre dinner drinks in Justins Pad this evening, but we still fit in pre party drinks in Metropolis. I have no idea what country the sunset was in this evening but the special cocktail was to die for! Kahula, crème de coco lime and no doubt some other things but the flake really finished it off!

We headed for Justins cabin and a steward en route advised me that I was most defiantly heading in the wrong direction – oh no I wasntnt! He is the host with the most, a full cabin inspection is given and it passes with our approval – very nice! We convince Justin that we really cant do our last dinner without him, and we are all so pleased that he agrees to attend. Both of the boys together one last time. I think P&O should make them a double act, they are so funny. We truly have never had so much fun at a dinner table. The pair of them have been absolute stars.

Drinks in the Metropolis is on the agenda but they have chosen the chilly side and I cant stick it for long, so we are soon off to the red Bar for one last drin, just one for the road!

Friday 2nd May

Southampton

Its here, that place, the Mayflower Terminal is outside the window! And there is no getting away from it our cruise is over.

Breakfast in Saffron Restaurant and we are guided to a table for 8. Why do I always have to sit next to someone who is staying on for a world cruise or has spent the last 3 months onboard. Who did I sit next to this morning? A couple who had won the cruise in the Inspire magazine competition! Well fair play to them at least they had enjoyed it!

We collected our bags and headed down to the Atrium. I could see a bun fight brewing so I quickly worked out a fast disembarkation route and hey presto we were at the front of the queue when disembarkation was announced shortly after 9.00am. I could hear the pushing and shoving going on behind me, of some of them do get their knickers in a twist easily!

We whizzed down to the E deck luggage section and we searched and searched! Nothing, not one single bag of ours. Clipboard woman piped up that there were too many bags for E deck so some had been moved to the top of the hall by the escalator. Off went Mr C to have a look while the clipboard woman informed me this was the biggest ship they had ever had in!!!? Durr what about Grand Princess and the other big ones that come this way? But I stayed calm and just glared at her. Mr C came back empty handed so I went to look, nothing! So we all looked again in the main section and then Mr C went back up the top to look. By now I was giving clipboard woman both barrels, and her option to wait until the hall had cleared to see what bags were left wasn’t a good one! She went off to investigate and then a big penny dropped and hit me on the head!!!!! Ours bags were labeled for our original cabin of C deck – Oooops! We quickly nipped up to C deck bags , grabbed them and ran before clipboard woman got back. Then guess where our bloody car was? Right in the top corner of the car park. Time for me to get my blanket out and Let Mr C find his own way home!

Overall we had a fantastic cruise. I loved Ventura and would be more than happy to cruise on her again. I don’t hide the fact that I am disappointed that P&O didn’t pull out any stops to make this cruise as ‘spectacular’ as they had promised me it would be for her Maiden Voyage, but that aside we had some great company onboard to share our laughter with and for that reason it will be a very memorable cruise.

I wish people would stop comparing Ventura other ships in the fleet, she is different and offers different things to the other ships in the fleet. Two weeks wasn’t long enough to get to know her fully, but then a lot of my days were taken up working in my cabin, and it was usually lunch time before I could revert back to holiday mode. I would have liked to have tried out the spa, but it wasn’t to be. Amanda tried out the endless pool and advises ladies to put on a full swimsuit if they want to swim against the flow – apparently it nearly got interesting!

Two favourite bars for me (as if you cant guess) Metropolis and Red Bar.

Loved the Atrium, loved the grandeur and elegance of it and the changing light, which changed the ambience – favourite for me was the reds and orange.

Tapas in the Cavern in Ramblas made a refreshing change, but cant help thinking that it would have made a better pub, with pub grub served in the Cavern bit. I liked the garden type area in Ramblas and that was a nice coffee area and chill ouit morning place.

Tazzine was always buzzing and I didn’t notice any slowness in service even in busy periods.

Chapter One did what it said on the tin and I have heard all sorts of gripes about this place. It sold books and it loaned books. Why does it need chairs in there when there are ample in the bottom of the Atrium. Even overheard someone moaning that they didn’t have a jigsaw in there, well that’s not the end of the world in my opinion. I also heard someone say that there werent any daily crosswords in there but I saw a pile every time I was down there.

I enjoyed looking at the art in the art gallery, and I don’t do art! Maybe it makes you appreciate it more when you can go and have a wander around and a look without falling over paintings being propped up on the floor etc.

Explorers was a nice light and airy area, and also where the Future Cruise Manager could be found. Yes, she was busy but then it was 2009 brochure launch.

I didn’t use Cybercentre, but it had plenty of terminals.

I just loved the bottom of the Atrium. Lots of nice comfy chairs and great people watching potential. Lovely sweeping stairs that you can glide down (works better if wearing a nice floaty dress!) Girls should be warned about going up the stairs in a short dress though as it doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination for those seated below.

Cinnamon Restaurant was the Freedom dining which gave you the choice to prebook a couple opf days in advance or turn up on speck and be seated in a separate part of the restaurant. I only heard good things about freedom dining.

Saffron Restaurant, midships on deck 6 – home to the famous table 43!

Bay Tree Restaurant only accessible via the aft stairwell and was confusing a lot of people lol

We didn’t eat in the White Room. Mixed reports were coming back, some said it was good and some said not so good. I think you have to appreciate Marco Pierre Whites style of cooking and as Im not a big foodie it didn’t really appeal to me. There is an inside and an outside dining area.

Menus’ I’ve read a few peoples comments that they didn’t know where to eat because they didnt know what was on the menu in the restaurants due to lack of menu’s on display. I never found this a problem and there was always a selection of both lunch and dinner menu’s on display outside the restaurant. Usually half a dozen copies on a small table at the entrance to each restaurant. East and White Room both had their menu’s on display and we could usually get a copy of the menu’s for each bar too. Waterside and Beachcomber also displayed their menus.

Shops were well laid out and offered all the usual shipboard things. Lots of Noddy things to buy. Also pirate accessories for pirate night. Usual logo wear. Wardrobe dress shop was very nice and had some different items in than im used to. Jewellery shop was also very nice but everything I liked was over £2k so needless to say I didn’t get anything!

Photo gallery is situated in a nice wide area of the main walkway from one end of the ship to the other and as usual it was way too over priced for my liking. We did buy a very nice hardbound book made up of photos of the ship and our ports of call for this cruise. They also had a little sitting area where they often conducted photo and camera lectures. The same are was also used for different backdrop portraits most nights.

Exchange is a lovely pub. Dave complained he hadn’t seen the train running all cruise just after we left Gibraltar so I soon got that rectified for him and the train chugged along over his head quite merrily. Apparently there are two, but one was out of action. As I say a lovely bar with lovely seating areas in the window areas, but it just got way too smokey in there for us so we didn’t use.

We tried our luck in Fortunes one night, but lady luck wasn’t on our side.

The Peninsular Room is a dark tucked away and from what I can see a very under used room! Not quite sure what its actual purpose is supposed to be other than a lecture room or meeting room?

Arena theatre well its big. Not very glam or glitzy but I don’t see why a theatre needs to be. Non of the seats had poor sight lines. Each seat had a table in the arm of the chair and drinks were served by waiters walking around. Shows by Ventura’s Theatre company were said to be excellent, but I confess I never sat and watched one.

Tamarind Club used for films and talks during the day, and for dancing, recitals and a comedy club in the evening. It’s a lovely room, very tastefully decorated in rich purples and orange. Yes it’s a bit of a walkway at the back of the room but sit near the front and your non the wiser to the people walking through. If you sit in the walkway, yes it will disturb you!

Red Bar, oh I love it. Don’t know what it was but maybe it was the crystal twinkling pillars, or the fact it had that wonderful atrium as a back drop? Or was it the exclusive drinks and the lovely glasses? Or was it John Wayne our favourite waiter? Or the big red sofas? Who knows, I just know I wish I could nip back there right now!

Celebrations flower and special gifts should have had a nice little spot up in the corner of Ramblas Garden, but he used to take his flower barrow to the entrance of Tamarind Club every day, and im not quite sure why. Mr C did order me some flowers one day via the interactive TV, and he never told me until two days later when they hadn’t arrived! When he finally went to investigate he was told that the interactive TV wasn’t working! Oh well that’s useful!

Laguna Pool was way too deep for my liking, not too sure how they intended to rectify that. Laguna Bar was possibly the only bar I didn’t get to sit at! It always seemed so dark and in the cold that it never attracted me.

Frankies Grill and Frankies Pizza and ice cream were both excellent, never too much of a wait and food always freshly cooked. I did miss fish & chips though.

Beachcomber Pool was under the dome and always well used. Nicer that other covered pool areas I have experienced, not as echo’y or drafty.

Waterside and Beach House, other than the colour schemes I never really worked out what the difference was between these two self service restaurants? Waterside is supposed to be inspired by Marco Pierre White but it just seemed like the same old same old to me? Maybe there was something different going on in the evenings and I confess I never went to investigate.

Terrace Bar was quite a small terraced area including the Terrace pool below we only used a couple of times for breakfast al fresco.

All of the kids facilities were superb and I don’t think could be faulted. Im reliably informed that on busy cruises they have an extra slumber area for the small children so that parents can at least get out and enjoy an evening meal or show etc. night nursery has plenty of cots and small beds and is open until 2.00am. Kids also had their own outside space. Older kids and teens had a space forward of their teen rooms, on either side of the ship, and the smaller children had their own secured area aft of the kids facilities. Their pool wasn’t in operation for our cruise and Im told that is because it turned out deeper than expected and couldn’t be filled for safety reasons. Paddling pool was in full operation though.

Breaker Bar was our daily haunt. Nice mixture of wooden tables and chairs and sun loungers. New choices of cocktails too which always brightened up my day.

The Spa and gym area is huge at the front of the ship, and as inviting as it looked I didn’t use it – I took my gym kit with me though, but not enough hours in the day!

Up on sports Deck there were loads of sun loungers, but can I just clear something up. Many people saw photos from the preview tours of row upon row of loungers, all rammed in side by side, with hardly any room to breath. In my honest opinion there are way too many sun loungers on this ship. Our cruise was a very sunny and hot cruise with sun bathers out in force at every given opportunity. I walked up to the top deck areas on many an occasion and never saw these chairs filled with people sun bathing. Most of the time they were empty. Same goes for Sun deck, always plenty of seats along the rails. I always got a chair where I wanted when I wanted. Believe me I have spent two weeks on a Royal Caribbean cruise and I know what a nightmare a huge deck of sunbathers can be all side by side – it was nothing like that on Ventura in my experience! Sports Court and golf nets were up at the front of the ship and if I hear one more person say that is where the Crows Nest should have been I will probably scream!

The Metropolis Bar is at the aft of deck 18. Yes the aft! I liked it being at the aft! I don’t like to go onto new ships that are just the same as other ships in the fleet. You could still see the sea and it had fantastic views along the starboard and ports sides looking forwards to the bridge. The barstaff were superb. Avalon is the new celebrity barman in the fleet. Dave Holden was quick to rename this bar the Crows Arse and it quickly caught on. It had a great atmosphere both in the day and in the evening. Even the barstools were comfy (probably why we spent so much time there!)

Im not glossing over the teething problems that the ship had, I just don’t think them worth mentioning. They are teething problems, some that affected us more than others and some that didn’t affect us at all. Hopefully P&O will recognize these problems and do everything in their power to rectify them.

I never chose this cruise because of its itinerary I chose it because it was a Maiden cruise, but of all the ports our trip to Viterbo from Civitavecchia stands out as my highlight. I can thoroughly recommend a day in Viterbo as an alternative to the usual trips to Rome etc. the old town is very pretty and very interesting. But wherever we went and what ever we did we made sure we had fun.

All in all it was a fantastic cruise that we were all sad to leave. We went away to enjoy ourselves and that’s exactly what we did. We shared our cruise with some great friends and certain members of the ships company went out of their way to make our cruise the enjoyable experience that it was.

Lets hope there is a table 43 on the next cruise! Oh dear I think a precedence has been set, and the gauntlet has already been laid down for me to find some amazing table hosts again. Its funny really, when you think about it, out hosts have to be invited to host us lol!

692 photos!!! you might want to pop the kettle on before you start on these

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