MEET OUR REVIEWER:
Nicola Reynolds is a busy mum of 2 young boys.
WHAT THEY SAY:
Norwegian Fjord Cruises
Along with natural beauty, Norway cruises gives you the opportunity to explore a range of historic and beautiful towns and cities, such as Stavanger, Bergen and Flamm. Discovering, as you travel, how the sea and harsh conditions have shaped the lives of the people that call Norway and Iceland home.
Family-friendly, larger ship
Ventura is one of the largest cruise ships in the P&O Cruises fleet. Ventura is where you’ll find an incredible choice of facilities from bars, restaurants, a sports court, spa and theatre. Plus Ventura also has a number of exciting features that are exclusively hers.
Ventura’s signature restaurant is The White Room by none other than Marco Pierre White himself. But there are also 11 other restaurants to tempt you including a tapas bar and restaurant, a stunning Asian restaurant and a choice of Club Dining – the same table at the same time each evening, and Freedom Dining – no fixed seating or dining times.
Ventura is a highly entertaining cruise ship. A theatre with full production shows doubles as a cinema, she has two lounges for cabaret, tributes, comedy and dancing and even Metropolis, an amazing bar with a panoramic video wall brought to life by a different city skyline each evening. She also has great sports facilities, a well equipped gym and spa, a large sports court and 4 pools (one with a retractable roof).
In fact, a Ventura cruise is very family-friendly. In addition to fantastic children’s clubs and a play area for under 2s, Noddy and Mr. Bump from the Mr. Men Show are regular visitors. She even has a 24 hour buffet restaurant so the only routines you need to keep are your own
WHAT OUR REVIEWER SAYS:
“We cruised with P&O in May 2010 to the Norwegian Fjords on board Ventura. We chose the ship because it is a larger ship with lots of facilities and dining choices and because P&O have a good reputation when it comes to childcare. At the time of travel, James was 4 1/2 and William was almost 13 months.
Checking in was a really easy process, all our luggage was taken from us at Southampton before we parked the car and was then delivered to our cabin, perfect! A short wait in the departure lounge and then onto the ship. Departing from Southampton was a joy as there were no worries about how much luggage you could take, great when you are travelling with little ones. As we sailed off on our adventure, we were played off by a brass band on the quay – very British!
We chose a Superior Balcony Deluxe cabin, this was the most economical cabin for a family of four. There was a double bed, a double sofa bed plus room for a cot which was provided for us. Every morning whilst we were at breakfast the cabin steward would come and change the bed back to a sofa so that we had a seating area and then he would come and change it back to a bed whilst we were at dinner. There was also a bathroom with a bath and over the bath shower. The cabin was a good size overall and we certainly didn’t feel like we were cramped even with all the stuff we bought along with us! We also had a large balcony which, much to William’s delight, had a glass side so he could stand with his nose pressed up against it watching the world go by without being in any danger of falling off! There were two chairs, two footstools and a table. I would definitely suggest that families with young children choose a cabin with a balcony, there were occasions when William was having an afternoon nap in the cabin and it just gave us an extra space and the opportunity to see the amazing scenery without having to be up on deck.
The ship itself was fantastic! The cruise we chose had one sea day at either end and then every other day stopped at a different port. Whilst at sea, there was a packed programme of activities, quizzes, talks and films but as William wasn’t old enough to be left in the kids club, when we weren’t playing in the toddler room (more of that in in a minute)we spent a lot of time wandering around the shops and relaxing in the various bars and cafe’s – a particular favourite was the Metro bar which had floor to ceiling windows, perfect for admiring the scenery and they sold an amazing hot chocolate too! There is also a covered pool on Ventura in addition to several outdoor ones – we didn’t use them though as it was a bit chilly in Norway! Every morning a copy of Horizon magazine is delivered to your cabin so that you can see exactly what is going on during the day and read up about the destinations you can visit on port days.
The food on board was fabulous! We chose the Freedom Dining option, really easy with children as you are not tied to a specific dinner time and you can have a table just for your family rather than eating with others. We had breakfasts in the buffet restaurant which always had a wide selection of cereals, dried fruits, nuts fresh fruits, porridge, pancakes, cooked breakfast options, yoghurts, juices the list goes on! We had lunch out on the covered part of the deck – there was a great spot near the pool where you could easily reach both the buffet and Frankie’s Grill/Pizzeria so everyone could choose exactly what they wanted and we could still all sit together. At around 3pm ish should you happen to be in the vicinity of the buffet, you might well be tempted by the choice of yummy cakes and nibbles for afternoon tea! For dinner, our favourite restaurant was the Beach House, described by P&O as casual bistro service, it served great steaks, ceaser salads etc with waiter service and was perfect for the whole family, the waiters really spoiled the children too! There was also a children’s high tea at 5pm (burgers, pasta, sausages etc) which we went to a couple of times, the boys thought that was great fun because Noddy came along too! P&O cruises all have at least one formal night on board, we had hoped to go for a lovely five course meal in one of the main dining rooms minus the children but all did not go to plan! James happily went off to the kids club but William was less than impressed at being left in the night nursery so after a couple of hours of pushing him about in the buggy dressed in our finest, we gave up, so I can also report that room service on board Ventura is excellent too!
We chose a cruise with several ports of call. Although they have some great options for families, we found the P&O excursions quite expensive and with a bit of research beforehand found we were able to do some of them ourselves. We picked trips that had fun things for the boys to experience such as cable car or train up a mountain, a glass topped bus, or a boat trip, that way they were really looking forward to the trips rather then them being a chore and just something Mum and Dad wanted to do. One of the excursions that we did book with P&O was a trip to see a glacier which was amazing, we travelled up to the glacier in a train of little jeeps snuggled up in blankets which the boys loved and having seen the glacier we were treated to an amazing buffet of cakes and pancakes with sour cream and jam – delicious.
The children’s facilities on board were fabulous. At the start of the cruise, we were given a sheet with all the activities on it and there was also a welcome meeting if you wanted to attend. William was not old enough to be left during the day but there was a large “Tumblers” room especially for the under 2’s and their parents with plenty of fun age appropriate toys and some soft play equipment including a ball crawl which looked out to sea! We could take William in there as often as we wanted during the day, in the evening the room is transformed into a lovely night nursery for the under 5’s – the children are allocated the same bed/cot every evening so they can get used to it and you are given a pager so that the childcare staff can contact you if your little one wakes up. Your child has to be asleep or calm when you leave them which was difficult for us and unfortunately, William was having none of it! James was able to attend Splashers in the Toybox club for 2-4 year olds and I honestly think that if he hadn’t had to eat, sleep and come on the odd excursion with us, we would not have seen him all week! He had a fabulous time doing art and craft, singing, playing, going on treasure hunts, even a party in one of the theatre venues and was always very very keen to go back after lunch! The club also had a great outdoor area with Little Tikes cars, balls etc and even a children’s splash pool although it wasn’t used the week we were on board. The clubs were open all day and up to 10.30pm at night, in the evening there were videos and big bean bags to have a sleep on – we picked him up happily snuggled up sleeping after a fun filled day. I did have a sneaky peek at the older kids club too which was pirate themed and had a play frame with nets, ropes and ladders to climb on. The childcare team were all warm and friendly and we were really confident that we were leaving James in a safe and secure environment where he would have lots of fun!
We absolutely loved cruising, being able to wake up in a different place every day and experience something new was great. We also loved the ease of being on board a floating 5* hotel and the quality and choices of food and activities were just fantastic.
Would I cruise again with the family, yes definitely, I would go tomorrow if money was no issue!”
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