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Ventura's Onboard Activities

16th April 2014

Following on from my last blog post where I gave you a glimpse of my recent trip onboard P&O Cruises’ Ventura, I feel like there is still so much to tell you about this wonderful ship.

One of the main questions I have been asked about my trip is 'What did you do onboard?' This led me to think people, particularly first time cruisers have apprehensions about the type of activities available onboard.

P&O Cruises are home to a jam-packed schedule of intriguing activities. From learning something new, relaxed activities and thrilling adventures there is something for everyone. 

Aside from the obvious things like watching a show, taking part in a trivia or dining, I wanted to let you know about the more unusual activities that she has to offer.

With this in mind, here are my top 5 alternative activities on Ventura...

Fruit Carving

We all gasp with amazement when we walk into the buffet restaurant and see a face carved from watermelon or an animal made from bananas. I guarantee you either think to yourself or say to your travelling partner 'How do they do that?' P&O Cruises have made it possible for you to learn, so of course I had to try this during my trip.

After a short introduction from one of the professional fruit carvers (aka a chef!) he explained the techniques behind the carving before giving us our tools and talking us through our creation. Before I knew it, standing in front of me was a cute penguin made from fruit, amazing!

A really fun activity that I can share with friends and use to make table decorations for events and dinner parties.

Type of activity: Creative

Good for: Adults, Couples, Singles, Families

Cost: Complimentary

Wine Tasting

I am not a huge wine drinker, but maybe that is because I have never took an interest in learning about it. From working onboard I was always intrigued by how much there is to know about wine and its background, so Ventura was my opportunity to see if it is as fascinating as people make out.

Set in Olly Smith’s Glass House a group of us sat around a large table eagerly waiting for our wine tasting experience to begin. The wine master who conducted the event was fantastic, he was extremely patient, answered all of our questions and enlightened us on more than I even expected about wine. From how they are made, what pair them with, how to drink them and what to look for on a wine bottle – it truly inspired me about this exciting wine culture I knew nothing about.

I now know so many interesting wine facts that I may share the next time I have a dinner party or am trying to impress at a bar but more importantly I know exactly what to look for when I am choosing a wine and how to match it with food.

Type of activity: Informative

Good for: Adults, Groups, Couples, Singles

Cost: Complimentary

Dance Lesson

Have you always wanted to learn to dance but never had the time, funds or confidence? It's a yes from me. Every time I am on a ship I love to watch guests enjoying themselves on the dance floor, but it always fascinates me how they have such perfect coordination and know exactly how to move to each song.

A cruise is the perfect opportunity for a dance lesson, you are in holiday mood (we are always slightly more daring on holiday), no-body knows you, you do not have to sign up for a course of lessons, you are with other people that have never danced and you will be taught by a professional dancer chosen by P&O Cruises.

Type of activity: Learning something new

Good for: Singles, Couples

Cost: Complimentary

Adult-only Shuffle Board

Shuffle board is a popular American game that has slowly been introduced to the British crowd, especially cruisers. I have always watched guests play this game but not been able to understand the concept of the game. Apart from asking someone up front how to play, I felt like I was never going to learn…until I was on my recent cruise.

Ventura host friendly and competitive shuffleboard competitions and the opportunity to learn the game.

I was surprised with the patience of the crew member that showed me how to play and I certainly felt ready to enter myself into the competition.

Type of activity: Competitive

Good for: Adults, Couples, Singles, Groups

Cost: Complimentary

Behind the Scenes Tour

I do not believe anyone that goes on a cruise and doesn’t think about the behind the scenes operation at least once. From how the ship is maneuvered, where the crew live, the culinary operation or how the engines work, it is certainly an incredible operation.

As I used to work on cruise ships I am aware of the large operations behind a working ship but this would not stop me from signing up to a behind the scenes tour and every cruise line has different procedures that amaze me once again.

Hosted by a senior member of staff, they will take you around the galley, behind the theatre and around the engine room before ending on the bridge with champagne and small snacks.

Type of activity: Exclusive

Good for: Adults, Groups, Singles, Families

Cost: Approx £75 per person

By Sally Grimes

My First British Cruising Experience

9th April 2014

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

Simone's Guide To Ventura's Dining - Part 2

27th September 2010

Read part 1 of this blog.

The Speciality Dining Options

During my cruise as well as dining the main dining room, I sampled the superb specialty restaurants onboard. 


There are a choice of three specialty restaurants and of course I sampled all of them during my stay (purely to investigate what was on offer you understand!).

The White Room (cover charge of £20-£25)

This is the restaurant of Marco Pierre White, and it occupies a stunning location on top of the ship with the option to dine al fresco in fine weather. There are two rotating menus - each equally delicious.

It's a three course menu with a Bellini and amuse bouche thrown in as well as coffee & chocolates and the food is simply divine. The food is simple which emphasises the high quality ingredients and is beautifully presented. This is Michelin star quality at a bargain price.

Starters include: enormous grilled king prawns with herb garlic butter and béarnaise sauce, escalope of foie gras & fried egg on toasted brioche and gnocchi with porcini & artichoke. Flavours are delicate and fresh - in fact my mouth is watering as I write!

Main courses include Marco's signature Spaghetti of Lobster Americano - half the lobster in the spaghetti tomato sauce and the other alongside the pasta, grilled medallions of beef fillet with snails in garlic butter, rack of lamb and supreme of halibut with citrus fruits, olive oil, coriander and baby fennel.

Deserts always include a cheeseboard of British & Italian cheeses with home made biscuits, and Marco's signature tiramisu, which is as light as a feather as well as such delights as Hot raspberry soufflé & mascarpone crème brulee!

East (cover charge of £15-£20)

This Asian fusion restaurant wasn't very busy - which was a real shame as the service was superb and the food was delightful. The restaurant is located on the promenade deck and has a tranquil, soothing atmosphere. Again, the menu changes midweek, so you can enjoy a different menu on your second visit.

Starters include: the lightest tempura vegetables with Asian salad and dipping sauce - beautifully presented, as well as quite a few favourites such as chicken satay (my favourite), won tons, Thai fish cakes & Asian broths.

For main course, you can opt for a mixed tandoori platter or one of the delicious fusion dishes. I opted for the spicy Szechuan Beef Fillet medallions, with a peppercorn crust, served with taro and spinach - it was so tasty and delicious. My boyfriend adored the grilled sea bass and scallops marinated in coconut milk and served with Thai asparagus and clam risotto - light, fresh & delicious. Deserts were superb too.

Ramblas (cover charge £5 or tapas from £2.50)

Ramblas is a large Spanish themed bar, which is an oasis in the ship with no entertainment, just gentle music. No need to book, just turn up any time from 2pm onwards and either opt for three lots of tapas for £2.50 - or a bargain three course Spanish meal for £5 - the most popular choice was a tapas to start, paella for main and then a traditional Spanish desert. This bar also had a delicious choice of Spanish wines and also you could get a delicious coffee for around £1.20!

There you go - that's about all there is on the food on Ventura - great choice, great value and extremely tasty food but with light and healthy options and plenty of vegetarian choices- now i'm heading off for something to eat. All that writing has made me hungry again!

Simone's Guide To Ventura's Dining - Part 1

23rd September 2010

Dinign on board the P&O Ventura [More]

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