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Ventura has been the subject of much discussion and not a little argument on the boards recently.

First, the old saw about Ventura ‘attracting the chavs’ is being put about again. I don’t know what to say about this: we had an excellent cruise on her last autumn, so much so that we have booked again for next May, but there have been a number of reviews that specifically mention disputes between groups of passengers. They can’t all be made up so perhaps there are issues on some cruises. One thing does seem to be true – most of the issues are occurring on cruises during the school holidays, so maybe the passenger mix is indeed different at that time.

The second area of discussion is to do with the on-board policies regarding formality. P&O have aleady done away with the semi-formal dress code on Ventura (and Oceana) – this was usually interpreted to mean shirt & tie, probably with a jacket. In other words there were three dress codes – smart casual, semi-formal, and formal – but now there are just two, smart-casual and formal. It’s been suggested that the next step will be to take away the formal evenings, making Ventura purely smart-casual. The reason behind doing that, it’s suggested, is that Ventura (and Oceana) are being lined up as replacements for the shortly-to-be-defunct Ocean Village (OV) cruise line – the cruise line for people “who don’t do cruises”. The dress code on OV ships was always just casual/smart-casual. It seems that OV former passengers have received letters from OV management pointing them towards P&O and specifically Ventura and Oceana, and it’s suggested that the dress code (and other on-board policies) will be further relaxed on Ventura in order to make it more attractive to former OV customers.

Finally, some P&O passengers have reported receiving a questionnaire from P&O, mainly asking how attractive they would find a Mediterranean P&O fly-cruise, as compared with P&O’s current ex-Southampton itineraries. (Ocean Village predominantly ran fly-cruises in the Med.) If introduced, this would be a significant break with tradition – P&O’s summer season sailing have all been from Southampton for many years.

My reaction to the second point (the dress code) is that I would be very disappointed indeed if P&O did away with formal dining on a cruise on which I was a passenger. We both enjoy this dressing up aspect very much, it’s one of the things we look forward to on our cruises. I fully recognise that other people may not enjoy it – each to his (or her) own, and all that. I also recognise that part of my reason for doing so may be the fact that I work at home and don’t even have to wear a business suit Monday to Friday. For me,  a cruise is almost the only time I get to wear something smart!

Finally, on the fly-cruise point I’m ambivalent. We do in fact do fly-cruises – this September we’re going on our third Mediterranean fly-cruise with Celebrity, all of which have been from Civitavecchia, for which we fly to Rome. (You can read about the earlier ones by looking at the ‘Cruises in 2007’ and ‘Cruises in 2008’ pages on the r/h side of the screen.) But those cruises have been of a reasonable length – 10 nights both times on Galaxy, 11 nights this year on Solstice – and with a line that, like P&O, has formal dress-code policies. We also did a 7-night port-every-day cruise with MSC in 2005, and I don’t think we’d want to repeat that sort of experience. If P&O’s intention is to shift Ventura (and perhaps Oceana) to doing 7-night repeated port-intensive fly-cruises with a completely casual on-board dress-code, then I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be for us.

All of this is speculation, of course – I must stress P&O have made no announcements about relaxing the dress-code further, or implementing fly-cruises. But there do seem to be a lot of straws in the wind….

One Response to “Ventura: are informal fly-cruises the future?”

  1. Excellent site, keep up the good work

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