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DamianG

Live On-Board Ventura N921

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Posted (edited)

Wednesday 7th August

I was awake early today so headed to the gym at 7:45am. Whilst passing the central open-air pool on Lido deck I noted all the towels and personal belongings reserving loungers. Then it started pouring down. What a shame.

 

Yesterday morning we went to the open deck aft and easily found some sun beds. My son and I went in the pool and the water was absolutely freezing. It must have taken 2 minutes for me to catch my breath and we lasted about 10 minutes before bailing out. On the plus side this made the fresh air actually feel warm once I'd dried off. Our son was out for about 10 minutes then dragged mummy in just to see her reaction. They weren’t in for long and we then had a leisurely couple of hours reading while our son played games with his grandparents.

 

We were slightly later than usual for dinner, arriving at 7:10pm. We were quickly seated but it took a long time for the waiters to take our order. There were 4 waiters covering our section and every table was taken so they were very busy. My wife and I had beef medallions which were very well cooked and it was a good main course except for the chorizo mash which was a bit dry. Our son decided to go for chicken nuggets as a starter and the waiter offered him fries with it so he accepted. However, it was a huge portion and he had to accept defeat and leave some. Thankfully his main course pasta was smaller than usual.

 

We eventually got to order our desserts including my absolute favourite, rum and raisin ice cream. We then waited easily over half and hour for them to be delivered and at this point realised that some tables had arrived after us, been served all their courses and were now leaving. We can only presume that under pressure the waiters had somehow mixed up the running order. We eventually left the dining room at 9:20pm, 2 hours 10 minutes after we arrived. We don’t want to be rushed through dinner but that was far too long. I appreciate that we probably turned up at peak time and I would happily go back to fixed dining but these days we find 6:30pm to be too early and 8:30pm too late.

 

After dinner we went to Havana which was really busy but eventually we found some seats. Vocalist Leanne Jarvis (TV show “The Voice” finalist 2013 – no, I didn’t know either) was doing a show accompanied by the Ventura Orchestra. This wouldn’t really be to my taste but she was very good (albeit a bit loud at times) and I really enjoyed the performance. Our son kept himself busy playing with Grandad’s Nintendo DS. I should also say that there was a very noticeable large pack of teenagers taking up a whole corner of the lounge. They were having fun but were also exceptionally well behaved. Credit to them and their parents.

 

Whilst all this was happening the ship pulled into Vigo to drop off the poorly child and family. We didn’t go out ourselves but there were hundreds out on the promenade wanting to watch the proceedings. Anyway, we stayed for the full show so it ended up a very late night (especially for our son) and we eventually returned to the cabin for lights out at midnight.

Edited by DamianG

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I'm really enjoying these blogs, thank you! I hope the 12 year old makes a good recovery.

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46 minutes ago, Harry Peterson said:

Me too.  Far better than a soap. Thanks for the vicarious enjoyment!

Blimey Harry, "vicarious"? I had to look up the meaning (thank goodness for online search engines). Wait while you read what we've been up to today!

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Thanks for the excellent blog.  Just one thing, can you let us know whenever you book a cruise so we can avoid you.  Three medi-vacs and you have only just started the cruise 😮😁.  All good wishes to those poorly people though.

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15 hours ago, Britboys said:

Thanks for the excellent blog.  Just one thing, can you let us know whenever you book a cruise so we can avoid you.  Three medi-vacs and you have only just started the cruise 😮😁.  All good wishes to those poorly people though.

Hi Andrew

 

Fair warning, next year we are booked on Britannia B017 departing 18th July 2020!

 

The Captain gave an update yesterday though naturally he is somewhat restricted how much information he can disclose. He advised that the air vac passenger is now in hospital under observation whilst the 12-year old is recovering well.

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Posted (edited)

Thursday 8th August

 

Minor rescheduling so we are due in Funchal at 12 noon and back on-board has been extended to 7pm.

 

Early yesterday morning I went to the gym, arriving just after 8am when I mistakenly thought it would be quiet with just a few other insomniacs working out. Wrong! Every treadmill and exercise bike were in use apart from those where the technology didn’t work (which I only found out after trying them of course). Eventually I got the chance to use a treadmill and as the gym is at the front of the ship facing forwards you find yourself running uphill then level, uphill then level etc. I’m not the best runner anyway but I managed 18 minutes which is good enough for me first thing in the morning. Looking like an idiot running with my iPhone in my hand paid off too as I recorded 9,498 steps / 7.4km in total yesterday. Some of the more dedicated athletes were flying along with uphill gradient settings, if only they had a downhill setting for the likes of me. I moved round to a cable pulley machine and then did a double take at the chap next to me, ex-England international footballer Stuart Pearce. He never played for the team I support but was always a favourite and he is a huge rugby league fan as am I. I was desperately tempted to talk to him about the latter (on the basis that he would probably appreciate the change from football chat) but he was working out with such intensity and concentration that in the end I thought it best not to disturb him. A chance missed perhaps but maybe our paths will cross again.

 

After the gym I put some washing on with both machines in the launderette near our cabin being available. I know, I know, we shouldn’t be wasting time washing on holiday but traveling down to Southampton with 4 adults and 1 child in the car, and all the associated luggage, means some compromises on suitcase sizes for us. Anyway, it was very easy, and when we returned from breakfast the wash cycle had just finished and the dryers were empty so from start to finish it was no trouble at all.

 

At 12 noon we were booked on the “Wines around the world” wine tasting (or so I thought) so our son was left with the Grandparents for the 1st of 2 such arrangements on this cruise. When we got to the Glass House, they didn’t have our booking (typical) but added us to the list then brought out extra glasses for us for all the wines. Glass House manager Ralston was very entertaining and unlike previous wine tastings we have done the room was laid out with wine stations and no seats. This meant that we toured round the room, starting with a Rumanian Pinot Grigio, moving on to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, then an Australian Semillon, then the “mystery wine”. The tour finished off with an Australian Shiraz, Portuguese Douro and finally a Spanish Moscato. Each wine was accompanied by canapes aiming to match the wine flavour. There was a competition to guess the mystery wine with a prize of a free dinner for 2 in the Glass House. It was a red wine, quite leathery and dry and I didn’t like it which surprised me because it was a Malbec which I usually enjoy. However, it turned out that this was a Peruvian Intipalka Malbec so that probably explains it. Somehow a lady in the group correctly guessed “Malbec, Peru” so very well done to her. The canapes were a mixture of meats and cheeses and one couple in particular had seemingly come for more of a meal than the wine as they kept taking more when other passengers hadn’t even got to that station yet. Canape of the day was some beautifully cooked beef paired with the Shiraz and fortunately the kitchen kept replenishing the stocks so even we had a second helping of that. Overall it was a good group of passengers (canape snatchers aside) who were all courteous to each other and all seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, as did we. The cover charge was £20 each and well worth it (and before anyone even thinks about it, we didn’t get sloshed as each pouring was carefully measured and there was water available as well).

 

We spent the afternoon sleeping it off relaxing in the cabin and made sure we were out earlier than usual for dinner. We met my in-laws in the Red Bar where they informed us that someone had just been ejected for not being appropriately attired (t-shirt and shorts). Fortunately, this rule does not apply to 9-year olds so our son was okay.

 

We were quickly seated for dinner in the Cinnamon restaurant and were allocated a centrally positioned table whereas previously we have always been in a closed-in section and once near a window. The difference in noise level was really noticeable. I had cannon of lamb which perfectly matched a bottle of Beaujolais (wine tasting lesson paying off already). My wife and in-laws chose lasagne which looked fabulous but was reported to be stodgy and father-in-law completely gave up on it. Our son chose calamari from the main menu for a starter (very grown up) and fish fingers and chips from the kid’s menu. He is becoming a seasoned cruiser and is brilliant at dinner, ordering his own food, engaging the waiters with eye contact and speaking clearly when it is his turn. He even stayed behind with his Grandparents for a post-dinner cup of tea while we left to choose the next venue. We are very proud of him.

 

After dinner we were going to Havana to see party band Pulse but it was busy and the only seats we could find were in a corner which we decided would be too cold for father-in-law. We went back to The Tamarind Club instead and though it was filling up we found enough seats for all of us. The rest of our party arrived and father-in-law decided that it was too cold and headed back to the cabin for a jumper. Sometimes you just can’t win.

 

It was the Decades Party Night and Entertainments Manager (aka Cruise Director) Tom was soon on stage getting the audience to take part in a left-side versus right-side game with a promise of free drinks for the winner. He is quite camp and very funny with it so although it could have been a cringeworthy routine it wasn’t. A lot of the audience really got into it and the competition was fierce but friendly. At the end Tom declared it a draw then advised that the free drinks could be redeemed on Deck 15 in the Waterside Restaurant with water, tea and coffee freely available. There was a collective groan and I think some passengers honestly thought there would be alcoholic drinks as a prize at the end.

 

After Tom’s routine The Waves came on stage and played a series of upbeat numbers with “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 being the main one to stick in my mind. They were just as good as when we saw them before and I really enjoyed it until our son called time just after 10pm which was probably a good thing after the late night we all had on Tuesday. He had a bit of TV time when we got back to the cabin and it was lights out at 11pm.

 

One last thing, a quick mention for our excellent cabin stewardess Lea. Once she has made up the sofa bed for our son, she often sorts out his soft toys as well. She even put the dog to bed one night (though he looks a bit startled by the experience).

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Edited by DamianG

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Superb report, as always, and I particularly like your writing style. Not something you do for a living is it?

 

You’re right about the noise level. Can get very noisy in the MDR. I find the tables for 10 can be problematic for easy conversation across the table, and usually we ask for a 6 or an 8. 6 is perfect. Only the 2 of us so we rarely wait long. 

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Posted (edited)

Hard working quayside crew in Funchal, obrigado amigos. Wouldn't it be great if they double-up as a barber shop quartet in the evenings?

 

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Edited by DamianG

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8 minutes ago, Harry Peterson said:

Superb report, as always, and I particularly like your writing style. Not something you do for a living is it?

 

You’re right about the noise level. Can get very noisy in the MDR. I find the tables for 10 can be problematic for easy conversation across the table, and usually we ask for a 6 or an 8. 6 is perfect. Only the 2 of us so we rarely wait long. 

Thanks Harry, I'm strictly an amateur writer doing it for fun.

Having been laid off by my one and only employer after 34 years service last year I am now out of work and struggling to find another job believe it or not. Not worrying about that right now though, and will be stepping up my efforts to find employment once we're back home.

Cheers

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Brilliant reporting . This is how it should be helps everyone with upcoming cruises and information not available freely. Enjoy the Canaries......

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4 hours ago, awmartin said:

Brilliant reporting . This is how it should be helps everyone with upcoming cruises and information not available freely. Enjoy the Canaries......

 

Thanks for the kind comments (and same to everyone else who has posted too).

I don't often get jealous but looking at your future bookings has made me somewhat envious! Reminds me of our pre-parenting days when we would take 2 cruises a year for considerably less than it costs us now for a school holidays cruise (not that I would swap being a dad for anything).

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Next to psycho on a treadmill and you didn't speak to him!!! Shame on you Damian.😀

Thoroughly enjoying your updates, thank you for giving a real perspective without the usual whining.

I hope you continue to have a great time.

Andy.

ps.. I hope the captains wife enjoyed the meal for 2 in the glass house.... 😀 Nobody would get Peruvian Malbec!!!

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Posted (edited)

Friday 9th August

 

Bienvenida a La Palma

 

Yesterday morning we let our son have a much-needed lie-in. Unfortunately, the downside of this is that we missed breakfast in the MDR so had to take on the endurance test of the Waterside free-for-all (aka buffet self-serve breakfast). The food is great, it’s just the “tray-in-your-back queuing while stuck behind someone who wants something out of every receptacle” that we don’t enjoy. Anyway, we endured the queue, got what we wanted and easily found a table. Then I returned with my son to another queue to get us some hot drinks and that was a trial in itself. I guess that I am just too sensitive a soul for all this hustle and bustle, what a lightweight. Next year, thanks to the reduced child fares our budget has stretched to a suite on Britannia and I am already looking forward to enjoying breakfast in the gentile surroundings of the Epicurean.

 

On the same subject Father-in-law told us about the family they had the misfortune to see in action at breakfast. A young boy got a large plateful of beans, had 2 mouthfuls then pushed it to the side. He then went and got 2 Weetabix, added some milk, then smashed it up in the bowl. He had 1 spoonful then pushed it to the side. He then got himself another bowl of Weetabix, added some milk, then smashed it up in the bowl but this time didn’t even taste it. His sister saw what he did and copied him with shredded wheat. The parents never said a word to either child and the dad even decided to mix the Weetabix and shredded wheat together but didn’t eat it. Eventually the family just got up and left the table leaving all the mess behind. All that food just wasted, unbelievable.  The waiter who cleaned up after them looked suitably disgusted.

 

It was a smooth sail-in to Funchal and we left the ship around 12:30pm to catch the shuttle bus. That dropped us off at Avenida do Mar as usual and from there we got a taxi to Complexo Balnear do Lido, i.e. a swimming complex not too far from the dock. This was a departure from our usual adventures in that leaving the port we went left (West) whereas in the past we have always headed to the right (East) towards the cable car, old town etc. We always used to walk or try public transport but on this occasion a taxi looked to be the easiest option with our son in mind. It was approximately a 15-minute journey and once we were there admission cost €5.20 per adult including sun beds. Our son just made the cut-off for free entry (under 10’s). It is a fabulous complex with a large main pool (bit cold but okay once you’re in), smaller pool with slides for the tots and access to a sea based inflatable assault course for the brave amongst us. There were some small changing rooms, showers and a reasonably priced snack bar. I’d forgotten to bring our Portuguese phrasebook but most staff spoke excellent English and were really friendly. I still don’t have a clue how to ask for a frozen slushy in Portuguese but our son got what he wanted and enjoyed it. We spent a pleasant few hours there then got a taxi directly back to the ship bypassing the shuttle service. I think the driver took us for a ride in more ways than one as the fare was considerably more than the outbound journey. However, I wasn’t really up for a multi-lingual argument (especially as he had cut up a tuk-tuk at a roundabout and was still shouting at that vehicle’s driver when we pulled up alongside him) so I just coughed up. In any case we were quickly back on the ship so it served a purpose and I’m not going to start fretting about a few Euros.

 

Back in the cabin and we were all desperate for a shower but found that we had no cold water. The bathroom sink has one of those mixer taps which in our case could be turned one way for hot and the other way for scolding. Similarly, the bath tap was spurting out hot water even on the coldest setting, whilst the middle setting was unbearable. I made a call to reception and an engineer arrived shortly after. He was in and out of the cabin several times then said something before he left never to return. We all thought he said “I’m going to check the engine temperature” but I’ve no idea if we misheard him or if that genuinely has an effect on the cabin water temperature.

 

There was an open air deck barbecue in the evening but we went to the Cinnamon restaurant as usual. This time we were allocated table 8 next to a window so we got to enjoy the view sailing out of Madeira. Just after 7pm reception was still sending out announcements trying to locate missing passengers (all-aboard should have been 6:30pm) but presumably everyone was eventually accounted for and we set sail around 7:30pm. We had the same table waiters from a few nights earlier when dinner was really slow and they were pleased to see us again. In particular one of them made a fuss of our son which was a nice touch. The restaurant was fairly quiet and the service was good but bizarrely once again there was a delay in delivering desserts. Our son chose carrots and green beans for a starter (“Carrots and green beans? For a starter? You sure?” the waiter said about 3 times) then chicken and chips. He said that the chicken was okay but that he wouldn’t order it again. I tried venison but didn’t really like it and wouldn’t order that again either. My wife had a P&O mixed grill and enjoyed it.

 

After dinner we journeyed up to Metropolis on deck 18. We broke up the staircase sections by walking through the central pool area and were amazed by how many passengers, mostly kids, were still using the pools after 9pm. Once aft on deck 15 we decided to catch a lift and pressed the “up” button. A lift going up came immediately and a lady jumped in before us and pressed the button to go down to deck 7. She then asked what deck we wanted so we all said “18”. Her face was a picture. Obviously, the lift started going upwards and she then turned around to us and said “Looks like we’re going up first!”

 

Metropolis was a little chilly but the in-laws had come prepared with a jumper and cardigan. The Ventura Orchestra were set-up and played a nice series of instrumentals. I didn’t know all the tunes but identified “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellington and the in-laws knew some of the others. It was a good set and not too loud. After a break they returned to play some more but this time one of their members decided to announce each song. Unfortunately, he was a serial mumbler so none of us could make out a word he was saying but we still enjoyed the music before calling time around 10:30pm.

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Edited by DamianG

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Thank you for more enjoyable reports. I especially liked your Stuart Pearce story and your pride in your son who sounds a well brought up lad 😊

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16 hours ago, AndyMichelle said:

 

ps.. I hope the captains wife enjoyed the meal for 2 in the glass house.... 😀 Nobody would get Peruvian Malbec!!!

 

😆😆

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2 minutes ago, P&O SUE said:

Thank you for more enjoyable reports. I especially liked your Stuart Pearce story and your pride in your son who sounds a well brought up lad 😊

Thanks Sue, our son has his moments like all kids but does us proud most of the time.

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18 hours ago, DamianG said:

 

Thanks for the kind comments (and same to everyone else who has posted too).

I don't often get jealous but looking at your future bookings has made me somewhat envious! Reminds me of our pre-parenting days when we would take 2 cruises a year for considerably less than it costs us now for a school holidays cruise (not that I would swap being a dad for anything).

Better not look at my cruises to come. 🙂

Excellent reports BTW. Not sure about the getting up for 8.00 every day although if you have kids I suppose you don’t get much choice.

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Hi Damien superb blog.

can I ask do passengers no longer have to take life jackets to the drill

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Hi, I’m enjoying your posts! I’ll be sailing on Ventura from next Friday (Fjords cruise). It’s my first time cruising with P&O since 1995 when I was 11. I have sailed with RCI several times and NCL. I always dress up when cruising but people don’t really bother on NCL ships. Can you tell me if people make an effort on Ventura? My husband will be taking a suit for formal night, do most people dress up? 

Thank you 

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32 minutes ago, kelbob said:

Hi, I’m enjoying your posts! I’ll be sailing on Ventura from next Friday (Fjords cruise). It’s my first time cruising with P&O since 1995 when I was 11. I have sailed with RCI several times and NCL. I always dress up when cruising but people don’t really bother on NCL ships. Can you tell me if people make an effort on Ventura? My husband will be taking a suit for formal night, do most people dress up? 

Thank you 

Yes 90 to 95 % of men will wear a DJ. Depending on the cruise. Ladies are always better dressed.

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Thank you DamianG for a great write up , we will be on Ventura in just over 3 weeks time and we are just around the corner from your cabin in D736 and never had a aft cabin so something new for us , your son sounds very well brought up and knows his food I love his starters of carrots and green beans , I'm glad the 12 yr old is on the road to recovery and the other passengers that got lifted off and I hope you do not get any more unforseen circumstances . Enjoy the rest off your holiday

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23 hours ago, Kendo44 said:

Hi Damien superb blog.

can I ask do passengers no longer have to take life jackets to the drill

 

No they don't, not on this cruise anyway. Seemed to save a lot of time in my opinion.

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