Tuesday, 22 December 2015

P&O Ventura: A Christmas Cruise to Bruges & Amsterdam

P&O Ventura Christmas Atrium

If you're a seasoned cruiser you'll know that Christmas is a great time to getaway as the temptations and food offerings onboard are hard to resist on a summer diet. When I boarded the family-friendly Ventura in Southampton, the buffet was my first port of call before we even set sail for Amsterdam and Bruges.
Here's my overview of a four night festive cruise on P&O cruises Ventura.

Costa Coffee P&O, Ventura, Christmas

The grand three-floor atrium makes a striking first impression, it's laced with garlands, Christmas trees and twinkling lights with some classic Christmas music tunes playing. For those who'd like to splash the cash there's a range of jewellery, fashion and gift shops between F and Promenade Deck surrounding the atrium. 

Main Atrium Ventura, Costa Coffee
P&O Ventura Shops

P&O CRUISES VENTURA | CHRISTMAS MARKET
After the mandatory muster drill a Christmas Market took place on the lido deck, surrounding the heated indoor pool. The stalls sold anything from beauty gift sets to chocolate boxes that guests browsed over whilst enjoying hotdogs and mince pies with a mulled cider or wine. 

P&O Ventura Christmas Market, Wine
P&O Ventura Christmas Market, Cider, Hotdogs
P&O Ventura Christmas Market, Indoor Pool
Christmas Market Cruise ship, Ventura, Wine

P&O CRUISES VENTURA | INSIDE FOUR-BERTH CABIN
I stayed in an inside four-berth cabin and thought the layout was well designed and practical with a walk-in wardrobe that divides the sleeping area from the bathroom. 
The LCD television had over 100 films and documentaries available to watch on-demand, far more choice than on some other cruises I've been on.

Inside Cabin, P&O Ventura, four berth
P&O Ventura four berth inside cabin

The inside cabins also have a tea/coffee maker, mini bar and safe. The cabin steward prepares the room each evening and leaves a chocolate on your pillow.

P&O Ventura Inside Cabin Bathroom

Each evening the theatre hosted musical shows and guest performances, my highlight was The 4tunes, a talented group of West-End alumni's who delivered an inspired set list of popular show tunes including Phantom of the Opera, We Will Rock You and The Jersey Boys

P&O Ventura Theatre

P&O CRUISES VENTURA | BARS & RESTAURANTS
Ventura has twelve tempting restaurants to add up those extra Christmas calories, including select restaurants East and the Epicurean and three complimentary main dining rooms; Saffron, Cinnamon and The Bay Tree

P&O Ventura East Restaurant
Epicurean, P&O Ventura
Bay Tree, P&O Cruises Ventura

The service was very prompt throughout and the waiters were warm and friendly. Each evening had around eight starter and main course options including appetisers like; Atlantic Prawn Cocktail, Hot Smoked Rainbow Trout and Fresh Asparagus with Poached Egg.

P&O Ventura Bay Tree
P&O Cruises Food, Poached Egg, Asparagus

My favourite main courses were the Mint Crusted Cannon of Lamb (below) and their Festive Turkey Dinner with all the seasonal favourites; pork, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

P&O Cruise Food, Lamb Dinner
P&O Cruises Ventura, Pear Tart Tatin

There's plenty of venues to enjoy an after dinner tipple like The Tamarind Club, a great option to enjoy some live music. If you prefer a more relaxed and pub-friendly atmosphere The Exchange was ideal for quizzes or a game of roulette at the Casino.

P&O Cruises Ventura, The Tamarind Club
P&O Cruises Ventura The Tamarind Club

P&O CRUISES VENTURA | THE GYM & SPA
If you're someone who likes to sit back and relax on a cruise I found there's plenty of options available onboard Ventura too, such as The Retreat at the front of the ship. This is an exclusive adult-only area where you pay a supplement to enjoy some luxurious pampering on the cushioned outdoor loungers.

ThisIsTheLife, Sail Away, Ventura
The Retreat, P&O Ventura, Luxury Travel

On our second day at sea I used some of my free time to enjoy the onboard spa facilities. For £15 you're given a robe and locker and have access to the Thermal Suite with saunas, steam and relaxation rooms. 

P&O Cruise, Ventura, Spa, Massage
Outdoor pool, P&O Ventura
P&O Ventura Gym, Thermal Suite
P&O Ventura Shuffle Board, Library

Other options to unwind include a fully equipped gym, stocked library and deck games like shuffleboard and table tennisThe Glass House on the promenade deck is a wine bar and restaurant established by wine expert Olly Smith.

The Glass House, P&O Ventura
The Glass House, P&O Ventura, Olly Smith
Check out my Wine Tour experience near Barcelona with TripAshore by clicking here 

At the top of the ship is the Metropolis Bar with panoramic sea views and a wall of screens that reveal images from around the world. During one sail away I enjoyed a drink here while watching projected views of Sydney Harbour.   

P&O Ventura, Metropolis Bar
Metropolis Bar, P&O Ventura
The Red Bar, P&O Ventura, Christmas
The Red Bar, P&O Ventura 

P&O CRUISES VENTURA | AFTERNOON TEA
Each day at 4:00pm in the Saffron Restaurant you can enjoy a traditional Afternoon Tea with finger sandwiches, tea cakes, scones and other sweets.  

P&O Cruise Afternoon Tea
P&O Cruises Afternoon Tea, Cake Stand

Children and teenagers are also catered to on Ventura with clubs and exclusive areas just for them, click here for more information.

Outdoor pool area, P&O Cruises Ventura
P&O cruises Ventura Buffet, Cakes, Desserts

The Beach House and Waterside are two buffet restaurants serving food around the clock. I dined here each morning and once for dinner as the theme changes daily, i.e. Italian, Indian...

Waterside Buffet Restaurant, P&O Cruises Ventura
P&O Cruises Buffet
P&O Cruises Ventura, Amsterdam

If you're considering a short cruise or fancying a festive break at sea, you can pick up some great deals at your local travel agents or through P&O's Early Saver Fare. For around £269pp I thought this four night cruise was great value for money.
For more reasons to cruise at Christmas time, have a look at this post on the Cruise 1st blog.
Further reading: A Christmas Cruise on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth

This was a self-funded cruise trip and all opinions are my own. 
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© Explore With Ed | Wales based Food, Travel and Cruise Blog

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