P&O Cruises are the pinnacle of British cruising and they pride themselves on offering a world-class, authentic British experience. One of the most popular lines in the UK, they cruise all over the world. Sally, from the Iglu Cruise Marketing team was lucky enough to experience life onboard Ventura. Read all about Sally's first British cruising experience below.

From chirping birds to splashing waves…

As the clocks went back and England started to glow with sprouting daffodils, spring temperatures and the sound of chirping birds waking us, I retired my coat to the rail and packed my bag for a European adventure.

Even at 4am, check-in was easy and the short flight from London was hassle-free. My nose pressed firmly against the plane window as striking views of ancient architecture swiftly passed me as I landed into Barcelona. You cannot fault the Spanish way of life with its quintessentially Latin flare and laid-back lifestyle of indulging on tapas in vibrant restaurants, however I did not have time for this today as I had someone waiting for me…Ventura.

Arriving at the port, she loomed before me with her sleek exterior eagerly waiting to welcome me onboard.

A warm welcome…

Boarding a ship can be daunting, especially for first time cruisers but after a friendly welcome from some of the ship’s crew and a convenient ship map in hand, the boarding process was extremely smooth. Miraculously my suitcase arrived at my cabin before me and my new home for the week was very inviting with a tempting king size bed, extensive wardrobe space and an impressive balcony that cantilevered from the aft of the ship.

On the first morning I reluctantly staggered out of what can only be described as the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. As I rubbed my lethargic eyes and opened my balcony doors I was hit with the fresh sea air against my face and an awe-inspiring view of the vast ocean swaying calmly around me. With a feeling of looking out at the whole world, it was the perfect way to awaken all of my senses and prepare for the day ahead.

It was the first and only sea day of my cruise. I am guilty of often complaining there are not enough hours in the day, but this clearly does not occur on a cruise. From sun-bathing (and gaining the famous 'British' red-tan!), cheering on Arsenal in the pub and having a manicure in the spa to taking part in fruit carving, having a galley tour and failing miserable at 'name that tune' – my day was packed with adventures. Not to mention the incredible food I indulged on, from the full English breakfast to the fresh pizza cooked at the poolside grill.

English Kings and Queens…

Formal night - a time that allows P&O to represent the traditional but modern style they are famous for. With everyone dressed in their formal attire, sipping champagne and having photographs with the Captain, it was a special evening that has left me with a joyous memory. The constant flow of smiles on everyone’s face was extremely infectious and there was a jubilant atmosphere all around.

P&O Cruises have one or two formal nights during a one week cruise and optional so those who do not want to dress up can dine in the buffet restaurant if desired. However for me, formal night is a great opportunity to dress up in an elegant cocktail dress, that rarely comes out of my wardrobe, and feel like a princess for a night.

After a formal dinner involving New England split lobster, Prosecco poached strawberries, fine wine and plenty of laughter, I experienced one of the line’s production shows. The main theatre spans over two decks and boasts gold décor, HD screens, innovative lighting and a large stage perfect for showcasing the talented singers and dancers.

Europe awaits…

Our first port was Toulon, I took the complimentary water taxi to the city centre where I enjoyed strolling around the quant shops that lined the charming yacht harbours. As we sailed away it was incredible to see how the clear blue sky allowed the sun to illuminate this picturesque city.

Arriving in Monte Carlo the next morning was an experience hard to put into words. The intense colours of the beaming sunset peered through soaring mountains that dwarfed the unique architecture and beautiful yacht harbours. Upon leaving the ship I explored the Grand Prix track before boarding the tour bus. After a scenic drive unveiling famous landmarks and celebrity homes I reached Nice. Moseying around the fresh fruit markets, stopping for a fresh macaroon and admiring the history-enriched buildings were my highlights here. It was then onto Cannes, a place that defines wealth and luxury, it was like being placed in the middle of a fairy-tale. Lavish boutiques, fresh pastry shops and water-front cafes lined the sun-drenched beaches and harbours bursting with extravagant yachts.

It was great to see the extensive range of excursions P&O Cruises had on offer. With adventurous, educational and relaxed options there is something for everyone at every port. The excursion staff were very helpful and had extensive knowledge of every city.

Fly-Med Success…

After canapés and cocktails in the Metropolis Bar, for my last meal onboard I went to The White Room, Marco Pierre White’s signature restaurant. Easily one of the best meals I have experienced on a ship, each dish set my taste buds alight and accompanied the chosen wines perfectly. After four truly exquisite dishes, I still couldn’t resist the Tiramisu and melt-in-your-mouth truffles.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Ventura and everything about the trip gave me insights into the fantastic opportunities guests will have on Ventura's Fly-Med season. Reaching exciting cities without having to spend two days at sea is a bonus and having the opportunity to spend a night (or 2) before or after your cruise is fantastic.

Although there were lots of things that stood out, these are the ones I want to point out:

• The price of drinks onboard were the lowest I have ever seen on a cruise.

• It was easy and convenient to fly and the transfer to the ship was very quick and efficient.

• The selection of afternoon teas and cakes (including shortbread, fruit cake and Victoria sponge) laid out every day were a delightful  'British' touch.

• Tea and coffee making facilities in my stateroom were very useful.

• The Great British Sail away on the top deck as we sailed away from Monte Carlo was very patriotic and fun.

• A Ventura chocolate placed on my pillow every night when I returned to my cabin was a special little touch that made me smile.

As my trip sadly came to an end and I sat in Genoa airport waiting to fly home, it gave me time to reflect on my Ventura experience. From the exceptional service, delicious cuisine and outstanding entertainment to the array of onboard activities, comfortable cabins and fascinating ports, it is clear to see why this iconic cruise line continue to be a number one choice for both first time and experienced cruisers.


By Sally Grimes