Getting to Barbados and life on board
The Peninsular and Orient Steam Navigation Company started its transportation of people in the early 19th century, it is the oldest cruise line in the world – well, enough of the history lesson – this cruise was fabulous and I have nick named P&O Cruises as Pleasure and Organisation!
Our voyage started in Barbados, so flying from Manchester and checking our cases in was a treat, but much more of a treat was not having to see them again until we got to our cabin on board! We had a very good flight and did not pay extra for our seats – as many people do. We declined this and arrived at Manchester Airport to find all the double seats had gone, so I sat further down the plane from my husband but, we were going to be together for over three weeks so 8 hours wasn’t such a trial, but if you have a fear of flying and prefer to be together then I suggest you pay the extra to book your seats.
We arrived at Barbados to be greeted by a coach to take us to the cruise liner, no customs or baggage claim, all organised by P&O Cruises, and this made for a very relaxed and enjoyable start to our holiday, disabled travellers are also well taken care of the smaller coaches with wheel chair access are also waiting on the tarmac.
We had booked on a getaway deal and hadn’t been informed of our cabin details until two weeks prior to the cruise, which doesn’t always suit many people, but we were pleasantly surprised and had a mid-ship with a balcony cabin. I understand the getaways have now finished but check the P&O Cruises website for more information. Our cases arrived a little later: a tip – is to take a small case with a change of outfit then you can get out of your travel clothes and relax, also for the return journey when you have to have your case packed for 11pm the evening before you travel home, then the small case comes in handy again to pack your nightwear and toothbrush that you will need before you set off home again.
We flew to Barbados but didn’t have time to see much of the island before we sailed to St Lucia and Antigua in the Caribbean. St Lucia is a beautiful island. We organised our own trip and asked other ‘ship mates’ to join us, this keeps the cost lower if you share a small coach. We saw the Pitons, the iconic mountains that stand proudly on the horizon of this wonderful rain forest. We tasted the local rum and visited the banana plantations, it’s main town is Castries and is safe but as ever do be careful and hold on to your purse or wallet, this is a relatively poor island.
Antigua – well what can you say about Antigua, a beautiful island, beautiful beaches, Nelson’s Dock Yard a must to visit and Shirley Heights another trip with more ‘ship mates’ this time and a great guide who explained everything and spent about five hours with our group, at one point calling in to see his sister who was pleased to see him and us!!, this was a real taste of the island.
Then the relaxation started – six days at sea, relaxation, a chance to catch up with all that reading you had promised yourself – not a chance! There is so much to do on board the Ventura – but yes, if you really want to relax then this is the time to do it. As for the rest of us, there were stretch classes, in a very well equipped gym, line dancing, the Ventura Vocalists – a fabulous choir of over 70 people practiced every day and put on an amazing performance at the end of the sixth day. Art classes, Dance classes, Quizzes, Bridge and of course the Bingo! But whatever took your fancy it was there, with excellent teachers and enthusiastic crew members Children are not forgotten either, there were a few on our ship but you would hardly have known it, they have excellent child minders, their own buffet time and a family swimming pool.
The entertainment is very good on board with a theatre, a lounge bar and a night club also a lovely calm bar on the 18th Deck – yes 18th, there are in fact 19 decks, called the Metropolis, where you can relax before dinner with a lovely cocktail or after dinner and listen to the soothing sounds of the duet that sing nightly in this bar. There are also other restaurant that have a cover charge, the Glass House, The Marco Pierre White Room, the East, the Bay Tree, the Beach House and Waterside and many more bars and grills. Dining is on two sittings, but the anytime dining is proving very popular in the Cinnamon and Saffron restaurants.
Read Chapter 2: Ports of call: Madeira, Mallorca, Malaga and more!