Having travelled with P and O three years ago on the sister ship to the Ventura, the Azura, covering an almost identical itinerary, this time we noticed a few changes that may be of interest to Silver Travellers.
Firstly, a couple of the ports, like Dominica, were far less salubrious than ones we had visited before, like Antigua as if there was an effort to reduce docking costs.
The clientele was a younger demographic. At 50, three years ago I was one of the youngest; now at 53 I was in the mid range of passengers with many more in the 30-40 age group than previously.
We found the high deck cabin of a similar standard to our previous P and O cruise, but small things have changed. There was a harder sell for excursions, the spa, drinks packages and water, with a pack of six bottles in the cabin (and in the way) throughout the cruise. The quality of biscuits in our cabin was lower than before (although it is lovely to be able to make tea and coffee in the cabin) and the entertainment far more variable with less on offer throughout the day if passengers were remaining on board. The in house theatre troupe, Headliners, was excellent as were a couple of the independent performers, but others were awful and obviously cheap to employ.
However, we found the service of bar staff on deck improved on our last P and O cruise, with exceptional serviced from our wine waitress at second sitting dinner. Food was very good at every meal with an excellent range of choices.
The organisation of baggage is outstanding. Bags checked in in the UK are delivered to the cabin and on the return, although bags have to be out by 11PM the night before departure, it is great not to have to worry about them until collecting them at the UK airport.
If this had been our first cruise with P and O we would have been delighted as were the many first timers we spoke to, but as experienced cruisers noticing small detrimental changes just reduced our enjoyment slightly.