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Introduction:

We did this cruise in 2011 to the central Mediterranean, which is P&O-speak for the Adriatic – the Ionian (Greek) islands, Croatia, and Venice. So far (2013) this has been our best cruise: the ship was good, the company was excellent, and the ports of call in the Adriatic were stunning.

Links:

We did some eating out during this cruise. We ate in East several times: this post covered our first dinner there and this one covered both the Asian lunch and the second dinner. Between these visits we also enjoyed a meal in The White Room.

We always enjoy drinking wine on a cruise, and we ordered a wine package. Unfortunately as the cruise went on we discovered that there were some problems with wine availability – we first became aware of it here, and got the full story here.

Internet, too,wasn’t without its problems, described here, although later in the cruise it had been sorted out.

Finally, here are the the various odd posts:

Here are a couple of links to my Picasa albums. First, a general album for the cruise, and secondly a link to an album of pictures just from Venice.

Review:

Most of all, we picked this cruise for the itinerary. We’d never been into the Adriatic before, nor Venice, so those were the big attractions. Then the overnight stay in Venice pushed us towards that specific cruise. The fact that it was on Ventura was almost incidental, although we were perfectly happy at the thought of another cruise on her. But we’d have been equally happy on most of the other P&O ships, as long as we could have a balcony.

It didn’t disappoint at all. Except for a short while in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela (during the call at Vigo) there was nothing about the ports that we didn’t enjoy. That said, the calls at Dubrovnik, Venice (two days) and Korcula were always going to be the highlights of the cruise, and they lived up to their star billing. Venice was everything I hoped it would be, even the Piazza San Marco, which means that it did much than the Acropolis managed in 2009; and Dubrovnik, Korcula and the coast of Croatia exceeded my already-high expectations – I’d love to explore that region properly. In comparison Cephalonia and Corfu were inevitably less exciting, though they both had their attractions, and Malaga did its job as a brief “you’re reached the Mediterranean!” call – suddenly we were getting sunshine, heat & blue skies which told us that the good days were starting. So the itinerary gave us everything we’d hoped for.

In that situation, Ventura was very largely just the means by which we did the itinerary. This was our third cruise on her so we knew the ship well, and what we like about her. We mostly used the bars we like: – the Terrace, Ramblas and Metropolis, and the Red Bar and Breakers Bar once or twice. We didn’t drink in either The Exchange or Havana, and apart from that first drink at the Beachcomber Bar (because everywhere was still closed, we were on the ship so early) we didn’t use either it or the Laguna Bar. Nor did we go to the entertainment – it’s not what we do. Basically, we enjoy sitting on the balcony, reading, and just relaxing doing nothing.

We enjoyed the food on this cruise. Most days we breakfasted lightly in the Waterside, but we also had a couple of breakfasts in one of the main restaurants. We also had lunch in the Waterside on just over half the days (again, a pretty light lunch most), but we also had a couple of excellent lunches in the Saffron restaurant, the Asian lunch in East and at least a couple of tapas lunches in Ramblas. We found the food in the Waterside good enough, though as I say we were generally eating pretty lightly. We also enjoyed the company we met and the conversations we had in there – you almost always end up sharing a table. Dinners in the Bay Tree were also good; there were only a couple of dinners that weren’t terribly exciting, most were very good and one or two were excellent. Service, too, was good, after a rather chaotic first night. But by the end of the cruise our waiters’ personalities had come through and they did well for us. The three dinners we had in East (two) and The White Room were excellent – definitely a step up from the main restaurant (as they should be, of course).

As regards the cabin and housekeeping, everything was fine. We like the layout of the cabins in Ventura with the walk-in clothes hanging area, and of course being on C deck we had one of those double-depth balconies. There was no problem with the housekeeping: everything was done quickly and well. We told our stewardess that we liked to drink lots of tea, so from then on there were always plenty of tea bags and milk. And we also got a couple of excellent ‘folded towel’ animals.

I suppose the only real negatives were the internet problems towards the end of the first week (which were resolved at the end of that week) and the wine shortages. That was a disappointment, particularly as there were wines missing from the package we bought. On reflection, I can now see that it was significant that we had to ask about the package this time: maybe they knew that there might be problems and weren’t pushing them. In 2010 we were definitely encouraged to buy a package, not just by our wine waitress but also there were displays about them outside the restaurants. Coming back to this year, it was disconcerting to have to ask the waiters and waitresses “what wines are still available?” whenever we were ordering drinks.

So this cruise was all about the itinerary, which was what we expected. We also had excellent company, and ended up socialising with our table companions far more than on any other cruise we’ve been on; this was an unexpected but very enjoyable bonus. Ventura did its job of accommodating us, feeding us, taking us round the itinerary, and providing places for us to socialise, very well indeed.

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