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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby Gillzajoker » 02 Mar 2017 16:30

Gill's Jan. 2017 Caribbean No-Fly Cruise on P&O Ventura.

Hi All,

I actually managed to have flights to and from Almeria Airport for once, which was more user-friendly for Fred. Arrived there early after a pleasant journey but unfortunately almost immediately found that there was a 90 min. delay on the flight. The plane arrived eventually and we boarded and were told the delay was because there was a lot of turbulence on the way over and they had to divert to Malaga Airport for stress tests by engineers. So we sat there and waited for take-off and waited........ The Captain then
made another announcement that whilst refuelling, someone had dropped the fuel cap and broken it. So they had to contact Easyjet in London andhave them ask the CAA if we were OK to fly under these circumstances. Naturally this took some time so we were given a drink and a snack before they announced permission had been granted and
we could take off at last - 4 hours late!

This was a particular problem as friend Jean ws waiting at the other end. However, theyoung man in the next seat kindly contacted her for me (not too well, apparently, as shethought we were on the tarmac in Gatwick, not that we hadn't yet set off!). Eventuallywe arrived in Gatwick and everyone scrambled to get their carry-ons for disembarkation......To be faced with yet another announcement to say the airport steps were broken and we had to wait whilst they found another set. Two minutes later another announcementinformed us that we had actually landed at North Terminal instead of South, (which was clearly stated on our tickets) and we'd have to take the train onwards once we had collected our luggage. The new steps eventually arrived and at last we could get off. I was not looking forward to carting all my luggage from one terminal to another, so was surprised to find Jean was there waiting for me - a real bonus! Her friend was driving
us straight down to Southampton, where we stayed in a lovely Guest House before finally getting on P&O Ventura the next afternoon.

I was surprised to find that the layout of the ship was almost identical to Crown Princess(on which I ravelled last Nov.),so had no difficulty navigating my way around. The big difference being that all the public rooms were warm. Our cabin was a decent size, and our luggage had already arrived so we were soon unpacked and settled in. Our Cabin Steward, Ranjan, came and introduced himself, and attend to our immediate needs.

Our first sea day was spent trying to sort out quizzes - a vain attempt, as the scheduledvenue was very small, and the timings not user-friendly. The morning one clashed with the lectures, which I like to attend - (the first series being on historical murders), but with nothing of interest occurring for the next couple of hours. There was a late morning one whereby you were given a quiz sheet and half an hour later someone came to give the answers - no fun! The evening one was at 8.30 pm, - whilst we were at dinner, and the late night one was at 10.45, when it was Showtime. Very disappointing!

The first port of call was La Coruna in Galicia, (on previous cruises it had been Madeira), where we took a coach to visit Santiago de Compostelo. We enjoyed visiting the Cathedral there, which was beautiful, and a walk around the town, but as it was a very cold day, with temperatures of minus 1 degree, you couldn't hang around for long. Our guide, Saray, (NOT to be pronounced Sarah!) was very interesting and informative, and wore the traditional Galician costume of long red woollen skirt, with black patterning
along the hem, and a white high-necked blouse, with long cuffs - reminiscent of a Victorian garment - (plus a warm jacket!). Galicia (which they pronounce Gal-eesha, as opposed to the Castiliano pronunciation Gal-i-thee-a,) have their own language, which is more similar to the Basque language, rather than 'true' Spanish. That evening was an Impressionist Show.

Five sea days followed,when the weather was not conducive to sunbathing, so I developed a pattern of breakfast, lecture, learning and playing Canasta, lunch, playing progressive whist, then more Canasta, before getting ready for dinner. The various shows on these days were a Production Show (average), comedian (quite good), male singer (good),
another singer a la Matt Monroe (not a bad voice but didn't really sound like him), and lastly two girls playing electric violins who were very good. (I had seen them on a previous cruise, and had dinner with them and they were great fun).

The next sea day was warm enough to sunbathe and read (although the library was quite sparse and most of the books were huge and very heavy not good with my arthritic fingers!), so I just attended the lecture first thing, and played cards prior to dinner, enjoying the sun in between
.
Likewise the following day, but dinner was disappointing as we had to wait 47 minutes for our starter - we were on fixed second sitting dining at this point. One person on our table took it upon herself to speak for everyone and complained loudly and very rudely, which was embarrassing.. I left before the end of her tirade to catch the Show, which was excellent, 3 girls with differing voices singing in harmony. They were called Virtuosity.

Another sunbathing day, prior to which Jean arranged for us to move to Freedom Dining, as we did not want to share that table again. This worked out well as I had met a couple from Leeds, with whom I had cruised previously, so we shared a table with them now and then. I was also delighted to meet a friend of long-standing, Jo, from one of my
Cruise Forums, and also her husband, who regularly played whist.

During the afternoon the Captain alerted us to a passing yacht, which was unique in having green sails - I think it was called Green Lady, and was German, being an adventure cruise for the disadvantaged/disabled, but don't take my word for it. After dinner we watched a bit of Karaoke (with some surprisingly good singers) before going to the Show which featured an average male singer. The final sea day before reaching dry land had
the inclusion of a session in the laundrette (I know how to live!). But being limited to one
suitcase, as opposed to Jean's 4, (and some peopl e's half a dozen!) made it a necessity. One lady on CruiseCritic postedthat she was taking 28 day and 28 evening dresses! Was not impressed with the Production Show that evening, seen much better on other ships.

Our first port of call was Barbados, and having been there a few times and visited all the'best bits', like the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Sunbury Plantation House, Harrison's Caves, etc., we opted for a beach day at The Boat Yard. That evening we watched another good Impressionist.

St. Lucia came next, and although it has the reputation for being a luxury destination,expecially for honeymooners, it's a different story for the residents. We took an island tour with a small group, and our drive rexplained how schooling and health care was expensive compared with many other islands in the region. Throughout it's history, both France
and Great Britain fought back and forth for control, with many of the place names being French. It finally came under the auspices of Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris, before gaining independence in 1979. Tourism and Offshore Banking provide the main economy.

We travelled from Castries down to admire thespectacular Pitons, but lost 4 passengers along the way when a guy who had had a stroke became unwell, so he, his wife, daughter and son-in-law took a taxi straight back to the ship. We passed a small shack, designated a 'Beauty Salon', offering 'Natural Fake False Beauty'. Did think of stopping but decided nah - you can't improve on perfection! We enjoyed a comedian from Sunderland that evening, who joked that it was twinned with Las Vegas as they were
the only two cities where you can pay for sex with chips.

Then came Dominica, (pronounced Dom-i-nee-ka, and not to be confusted with the Dominican Republic), but the German cruise ship Aida had beaten us to the punch (no doubt by previously saving their place with towels!) by docking at the capital, and best port, of Roseau, So we docked at a not very prepossessing place some distance away. Again an island tour showed us the highlights, including the beautiful bay where most of the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, Botanical Gardens, Mount Bruce, Waterfalls,etc. There was nothing but a huge warehouse at dock, with lots of stalls, all trying to sell the same souvenirs. Jean was looking at a lovelywhite crocheted top and shorts, with a view to buying it for her tiny, very slim daughter-in-law. On asking the size, she was told, "it won't fit someone fat like you" - and this from a woman at least three stone
heavier than her! Needless to say, a sale was not made! We later watched a good comic/impressionist.

We have both been to St. Maartens many times and done tours, so we decided on a beach day, taking a short ferry ride to and from it, A girl singer was our choice for the show that night. We overnighted there, so next day just had a mooch around and found a cafe with wi-fi to contact family back home. An excellent ventriloquistprovided our evening entertainment.

My favourite island, Tortola, followed and yet again did the island tour with a very friendly driver. We ended up at a very old Rum distillery, where in the past I have sampled up to 6 varieties but, they must have known I was coming, so now charged $1 for a taste of 4! This was besides a lovely beach, so we stayed there for the afternoon. A comedian we had enjoyed before was not as good on his second outing.

We then arrived at St. Kitts but unfortunately Jean was not feeling too well, so I wentoff on a tour with other people. This island, along with the smaller Nevis, was one of the first to be colonised (invaded!) by Europeans. The economy is mainly tourism, but obviously used to be the export of sugar, many old sugar plantations now being taken over for development, and sugar mills now in decay. The island is separated into different parishes, most named after Saints. Education and health care are free on the island, and it is much more prosperous than St.Lucia. There are Medical and Veterinarian Universities, and lots of social housing - small bungalows costing $22kwhich can be purchased for only $20 a month. Religion is Catholic and Anglican, and it boasts the largest Anglican Church in the Caribbean. Something less to boast about is what is called Bloody River, the site of a massacre of 2,000 indigenous Indians by the British and French. Finally we saw the outlook point where a spit of land separates the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

Our last Caribbean port of call was Antigua, famous for it's 365 golden beaches. Again a prosperous island, and we did a tour incororating Shirley Heights, Nelson's Dockyard and the usual haunts. I was interested to learn that you can take your state pension between the ages of 55 and 60, at which time you also get free electricity, free water, plus a $200 grocery voucher every month. As long as you have paid into the system for the previous six months, foreigners have the same entitlement, so certainly sounds a great place to live! An unfunny comedian failed
to amuse us that evening.

Four sea days passed with sunbathng, reading, card playing and lectures. This set of lectures was on warfare and spies, which I wasn't sure I would like, but nevertheless found them all enjoyable. It was interesting to see the drawings of the secret 'hideaways' scattered around the countryside, where radio operators did their duty, whilst expecting a German invasion.. And to learn about a famous Anglo Indian double agent who's code name was Madeleine. I particularly enjoyed the one about Noriega, learning that the CIA thought they controlled him, whilst he was paying all sides against
the middle and doing very well for himself, as well as making a fortune by connections to his drug baron friend, Pablo Escobar. It is rumoured that at that time there was a shortage of large, thick elastic bands in Central America, as they had all been commandeered for wrapping his millions of banknotes! The evening shows were a good comedian, so-so Production Show, 4 great guys singing in harmony and a capella, and a comedy magician.

One night (well, 4 a.m. in the moring to be precise) I was not best pleased to be woken by a Tannoy announcement in the cabin requesting an emergency response team to go to a certain cabin. I can assure you I wasn't hiding them under my bed, so why this message had to go out to everyone instead of them just being paged, was beyond me. I queried this at reception and was told it was a 'legal requirement', which is a load of ...
as I've been on 27 ships, all with their fair share of medical emergencies, and never once have such messages been broadcast inside cabins. Probably someone pressed thewrong button - grrr!

We were all looking forward to our last port of call at Punta Delgado in the Azores, but it was a terrible day, freezing cold and torrential rain. We did get off, just to find wifi and send messages home, but didn't stay out too long. Very disappointing for all the shopkeepers and taxi drivers there, too.

Our final sea days were passed in the usual manner, with the evening shows comprising another Production Show, comedian, and soul singer. And then it was time to pack. Embarkation was chaos, with practically every passenger fighting to reclaim their luggage at the same time, whereas it was suposed to be done deck by deck. Still we made it in the end and Jean's friend was waiting for us and took us back to her house to stay before my flight back to Spain next morning.

This was my first time with P&O and I'd been told it was one of the best lines. Perhaps because of this my expectations were too high, but it didn't have the 'wow' factor for me. The ship itself was nice, staff excellent, cabins good, but I felt the entertainment could have been better, and as stated previously, quiz timings and venue were disappointing. Also I found the food to be only average, with meat consistently overdone and so called roast potatoes that had never seen the inside of an oven. Also whilst on
ships I look forward to freshly baked crusty rolls, with poppy seed and sesame seed toppings, etc. But they only provided plain white crusty rolls one day, and plain brown rolls the next. And they were tasteless, akin to the cheap rolls you get from budget supermarkets (although I'm sure they were fresh baked daily). But why they couldn't do a batch of white and a batch brown each day seems ridiculous. Another minor niggle was ice wasn't available on tables in the restaurants, and there wasn't an ice
machine in the buffet. Final 'moan' was that the sunloungers did not have mattresses, so were uncomfortable, and pool towels were not available 'on site' - you were rationed to just the one in your cabin - and I was used to having a couple extra to make a pillow, as I have neck problems.

But these points were not a 'deal breaker' - just telling it like it is - and I enjoyed myself as always. Although I wouldn't discount another P&O cruise, (but it would have to be to very special destinations and at a very cheap price) I wouldn't do a round trip from Southampton again, as there were too many sea days for me, and I prefer to fly straight to a destination where it's hot weather, despite all the inconveniences which that entails.

Love Gill
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Re: Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby Toongirl » 03 Mar 2017 00:03

I've enjoyed reading this, Gill. We only do European cruises so it's nice to hear about faraway places. We've been on P&O once and found it fine, but not fabulous. We were on Adonia. I'm glad you found the lectures interesting. I like them too.
At least you had a good time even though there were a few niggles.
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby judgegeoff » 03 Mar 2017 08:55

Thank you very much Gill for your most interesting report of your no-fly P&O "Ventura" cruise, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. :clap: :clap: :clap: Chris and I have not (yet) sailed with P&O but hope to one day. I too would find it very frustrating when the scheduling of quizzes and lectures is not well thought out.
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Re: Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby khkate » 03 Mar 2017 11:55

An Interesting read - shame you had to fly to UK to pick the ship up and couldn't join in La Coruna. That flight at the beginning sounds like a nightmare.
Future Cruises - Baltics, Canaries Canada, Med, Scandinavia
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby grannyM » 03 Mar 2017 13:10

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your cruise high and low-lights Gill.

I did enjoy reading it and, from what you've said, I think I would have been of much the same opinion as yourself on the negatives.

A cruise is a cruise and as usual you did enjoy yourself so that's the main thing. Here's to your next one which no doubt you are already planning. :)
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby Gillzajoker » 03 Mar 2017 16:57

Thanks, everyone - and yes, Marie - looking at a few possibilities! :D
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby grannyM » 03 Mar 2017 18:50

Gillzajoker wrote:Thanks, everyone - and yes, Marie - looking at a few possibilities! :D


:thumbup: :D
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Re: Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby jocap » 03 Mar 2017 22:06

Thanks Gill- that was a great read!
It was wonderful seeing you on the cruise- if only rarely- the funniest was when you ended up next to me at a lecture- out of 3006 passengers...
Like you, this cruise had its up and downs, not just sea-wise but entertainment and food wise. What made a difference to me was that we were with a large crown of people from last year's identical cruise, so there was always someone to chat to, or eat out with.
We didn't visit the MDR even once this year, but made full use of the Beach House and Glass House, so I cannot comment on the MDR food (other nights we chose something from the buffet, just one course), but a couple from last year were going to complain about their food in the MDR... even with the new menus!
I'm not sure we'll be doing such a long cruise again, and our next one will be just 9 days with Fred from Newcastle.
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby Gillzajoker » 04 Mar 2017 12:27

I agree, Jo, that the people you meet and spend time with on a cruise make a huge difference to your enjoyment of it. Still like long cruises, but preferably to fly at least one way. Hope you and Fred get on well! :lol:
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Gill's Ramblings on Jan. 2017 No Fly Cruise on Ventura

Postby Jeffo » 04 Mar 2017 12:31

Enjoyed your ramblings Gill. Your style of writing always holds my interest. :)
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