A Look at the P&O Ventura
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P&O Ventura

P&O is a distinctly British line and their ship, the Ventura entered service in April 2008. Dame Helen Mirren along with a team of Royal Marines christened the 1,550-cabin vessel with the traditional bottle of champagne crashing against the ship’s bow.

The ship’s designers decided to commission over 7,000 pieces of art for the Ventura from 43 artists, who were either British nationals or live and work in Britain exclusively.

According to P&O Cruises former Managing Director Nigel Esdale: “The art collection has always been at the heart of that personality, illustrating what the ship stands for, as well as creating a unique look and feel. It also provides an additional dimension to our passengers experience, giving them food for thought and enhancing their enjoyment of the public spaces.”

The Ventura continues to prove that statement. However, the ship has plenty more to offer. Now with several years of service under her belt, she still maintains her “contemporary and family-friendly” theme with success.

CABINS

The five categories of tastefully decorated staterooms consist of suites; deluxe balcony staterooms; balcony staterooms; outside staterooms and inside cabins. P&O boasts that out of these, 60% of the cabins contain a verandah. Balconies are large enough for dining and contain stylish teak furnishing.

Ventura Balcony Cabin

Past passengers have often remarked that the cabin décor and amenities are ‘better than a hotel”.

All cabins contain flat panel TV, radio, telephone, safe, hairdryer and refrigerator as well as tea & coffee making facilities. Egyptian linens, towels and robes are in all of the cabins as well. The beds are very comfortable and come with an 8-inch Slumberland Gold Seal posture spring mattress.

All suites include a butler and plenty of other premium services such as daily canapés and a selection of daily newspapers.

DINING

There are a number of choices and themes when dining onboard the Ventura. There are three main dining rooms (‘Bay Tree’, ‘Saffron’ and ‘Cinnamon’) with two sittings for dinner held at 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

The Baytree Restaurant

The very popular specialty dining venue, ‘White Room’ is overseen by restaurateur Marco Pierre White. This alternative restaurant is moderately priced and offers an intimate experience of fine dining. The chef has also created menus for the 24-hour buffet-style fining facilities called ‘The Beach House’. Other options for dining include the casual ‘Waterside Restaurant’ and ‘Frankie’s Grill and Pizzeria’ and ‘East’ serving Asian fusion and Pacific cuisine

For something a bit lighter, try the Barcelona-style tapas menu at Las Ramblas. A classical guitarist plays each evening whilst you taste traditional Spanish appetizers.

ENTERTAINMENT

The Arena Theatre is large with 788 comfortable seats and excellent sight lines no matter where you sit. The entertainment is traditional with a blend of guest musicians, comedians, singers and production shows by the on-board troupe ‘Headliners’ that perform many West End show tunes.

The Ventura Arena Theatre

There are other venues where the music is pumping out with styles to suit all tastes including blues, country & western, jazz, rock, pop and swing. The casino is smaller and shares its space with a public house called ‘The Exchange’. This makes it more reminiscent of a proper British Pub rather than a glimmering Vegas-style one.

ACTIVITIES

Ventura has no lack of things to do. One unique feature of the ship is Cirque Ventura where guests can learn to walk a tightrope, juggle or fly on the trapeze. In keeping up with its emphasis on art, there are enrichment programs provided by the Tate Modern on some voyages.

With enhanced activities such as a 4-player Scalextric, a computer school and 3D films, all members of the family will certainly be kept busy.

For the younger ones, the kids centre is divided in three (designated by age from tots to teens) with state of the art areas and entertaining activities such as Sony PS3s. Teens can also head to the Rock School and be inspired to learn the guitar or drums.

The Kids Club on Ventura

Her Oasis Spa, salon and fully-equipped gym are available for well being of the mind and body and staying fit. Passengers can indulge in a varied menu of treatments with the ship’s skilled therapists and fitness experts.

ITINERARIES

For the duration of 2015, the Ventura offers 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, 13 and 14-day cruises in the Mediterranean.

All sailings in 2015 leave from her home port of Southampton. A 28-day Transatlantic is scheduled for the 18th of January 2016 departing Southampton and heading towards the warmer waters of the Caribbean and back again.

To view the Ventura’s Itineraries click here

Images courtesy of P&O Cruises

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It’s Tea Time!
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Tea was discovered over five thousand years ago and is the second most consumed drink after water. Tea is a fantastic pick me up and one of the most refreshing drinks available. Of course, here at home, consuming a cup in the afternoons is not only a cherished tradition but part of many peoples lifestyle. Just because you are going on a cruise holiday doesn’t mean that the 4 PM calling for tea must be eliminated!

Each and every afternoon on many cruise ships, there’s the traditional British tea time. What varies is whether they have ‘Afternoon Tea’ consisting of tea, sandwiches, scones and cake and mainly a self serve or ‘High Tea’, a more formal event with white-gloved waiters serving on fine china with several trays of goodies.

Afternoon tea is something not to miss on a cruise holiday. Here is a brief description of what you can expect on some cruise lines that take tea time seriously.

CRYSTAL CRUISES

The Palm Court holds afternoon tea daily with a harpist or musical performances themed towards the composer of the day. The waiting staff are very attentive, whether alone or with a group of friends. The sandwiches and savory pastries are always a delectable indulgence as are the wide variety of fine teas.

afternoon tea

Image courtesy of Crystal Cruises

CELEBRITY CRUISES

Celebrity will be happy to include a bottle of bubbly (if requested) during their version of a proper high tea. One of their specialty restaurants is set up for a fully fledged High Tea with a violinist, premium Forte teas, Wedgwood china and Riedel crystal and finger sandwiches and pastries. The high tea experience takes place once or twice a sailing and is not gratis but afternoon tea is an everyday occurrence and free of charge.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE

Holland America’s fleet is vast with many fabulous dining venues but their themed afternoon tea events really do stand out. One to note is the once a week Royal Dutch High Tea. This features waiter service in the main dining room with music provided by a string quartet. The right tea is always on hand and compliments a menu that includes a stunning presentation of delicate tea sandwiches and an assortment of biscuits and pastries.

CUNARD LINE

There’s always a location for afternoon tea as a standard tradition onboard a Cunard ship. Afternoon tea is served at no extra cost in the Queens Room daily throughout the fleet. Also available is the enhanced Afternoon Tea experience which is chargeable but comes with many extras including a glass of Champagne, gourmet sandwiches and afternoon tea cakes. There will also be a Harpist playing during the event.

afternoon tea

Image courtesy of Cunard Cruises

PRINCESS CRUISES

Afternoon Tea takes place on a Princess ship every day and is complimentary. Indulge in picture perfect finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and petit fours. White gloved waiters serve a variety of teas, whilst passengers listen to the soothing tones offered by a string quartet or other musical entertainers. Discover the variety of teas available instead of the standard originals with exotic fruit and aromatic flavours and pamper the palate with the miniature sandwiches and pastries served.

P&O CRUISES

Afternoon tea is served in the one of the restaurants onboard all of the ships in P&O’s fleet. However, if you are booked on the new Britannia, then a real once in a lifetime treat is available. The owner of London’s Cake Boy boutique, celebrity chef and French patisserie, Eric Lanlard is overseeing Britannia’s new Champagne afternoon tea event in the Epicurean Restaurant.

afternoon tea Eric Lanlard

Image courtesy of P&O Cruises

FRED. OLSEN CRUISES

Fred Olsen offer a complimentary afternoon tea service which includes many sandwich and cake options. They also offer a traditional afternoon service which incurs a small charge but offers fantastic views from the Observatory Lounge plus music from the onboard pianist and a range of premium teas and sandwiches.

Afternoon tea is a real highlight for many even when on holiday and with the different options available these days don’t forget to ask your cruise specialist for details before you book.

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Will my Teenagers enjoy Cruising?
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Teens on Norwegian Epic

Cruising can be a wonderful experience no matter what your age is. This also applies to teenagers and the idea of a holiday on a ship can be enthralling to them.

On some ships, teens are eligible for getting single or double cabins of their own depending on their age. This may increase the price by a small amount but it is well worth it in order for them to have their own personal space.

Dining is easy for teenagers with both exotic and simple tastes onboard the ship. There are many international restaurants onboard that serve a wide variety of food, from Italian pasta to Japanese sushi. However, for those that want a more casual experience, the buffet also offers many different dishes in a more relaxing atmosphere. Stay by the poolside and enjoy the grill nearby that serves up hamburgers, hot dogs and other teen favourites.

I’M BORED!

Theoretically you should never hear the words “I’m bored” onboard as there is an endless amount of activities and entertainment. There are special Teen Clubs as well as vibrant nightclubs and arcades with the latest games. Keep in shape with the exercise room in the spa and the pool is always a popular hangout. Innovative and unique shows are put on at night that are sure to please any age.

Keeping in touch with the outside world is even easier today as the majority of cruise ships not only have internet cafes but have Wi-Fi in the cabin too where you can use laptops, tablets or Smartphone’s. Phone calls can make communication very easy although roaming charges can be quite high depending on the destination.

One of the main appeals for teenagers on a cruise holiday is the idea that they can socialise with others of the same age. Depending on the line and ship chosen, and the right time of year, there is bound to be other teenagers onboard. The holiday months are the best times for this.

The bigger, newer ships will have more teens, more teen facilities and more planned teen activities.

Take a look at what’s on offer for teens with these 3 major cruise lines:

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE

Norwegian Epic is one of Norwegians most innovative ships and packs a real punch for teens. Entertainment such as the Blue Man Group and the Second City comedy centre shows prove to be big hits with the teens. Teens need their own space and the Epic also has the ‘Entourage,’ a teens-only centre.

It has the appearance of a trendy club that they would be under aged for back home. However, it is a safe hangout filled with age appropriate gaming such as air hockey. Similar set-ups can be found on the Norwegian Breakaway and sister ship Norwegian Getaway.

PRINCESS CRUISES

Some teens have different ideas for enjoying themselves when onboard. For those with a quest to learn, even whilst on holiday, can take part in one or more of the 40 classes with the ScholarShip@Sea program. Found fleet-wide, these enrichment programmes are available to teenagers aswell. Some examples they may be interested in include pottery classes, designing their own website or exploring the night sky through a telescope.

And for those who prefer to do the normal teen stuff and are aged between 15 and 17, the Ruby Princess for example has an area called Remix. This is a well-appointed teen centre with the latest in Sony Play Station and Nintendo Wii games. There’s also a mini-golf course that will keep teens occupied called Princess Links.

P&O CRUISES

British cruise line P&O Cruises has always been great for families. The Aurora, Azura and Oceana are geared for all ages. However, the Ventura has introduced some great new features including a 3D cinema and a giant virtual “Scalextric at Sea”. These were designed with the teenager in mind and are just the start of what is made available for this age group.

Four bungee trampolines, a rock-music school and teen-only talent shows are some of the features to keep them busy. A first ever circus school is onboard. The Cirque circus school features workshops in which teens and those that are young at heart can learn to trapeze, be a clown, juggle and walk on a tightrope.

Cruises provide a sense of freedom to many teenagers as they can feel free to relax and explore areas on their own. As long as trouble is avoided and boundaries are set, this can be an excellent way to let them unwind, have some independence and explore the world.

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Powering up – A Look at Yesterday and Today
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cruise ship power banner

Your cruise holiday is not enjoyable if the power fails onboard. See how these floating hotels are powered and what is done in the event of an emergency.

History

Seafaring vessels in the early years were only used for the transportation of cargo. The evolution of the industry changed their power sources.

The first shipping company to offer scheduled passenger transatlantic crossings from New York to Liverpool in 1817 was America’s Black Ball Line. Britain dominated the globe with their cargo shipping market, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th Century that ships began to carry passengers, even if the traveler experienced only a small degree of comfort.

The leading British line, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) saw positives by carrying passengers and commanded the marketplace with the Cunard Steamship Company, running a close second. Impressive improvements in the quality of the cruise holiday experience emerged.

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Image courtesy of P&O Cruises

Over time, ships began to cater solely to passengers and resulted in such added luxuries as electric lighting, entertainment options, dining experiences and eventually to the modern ‘oohs and aahs’ found on today’s cruise ships..

Steam Engine

When the steam engine was unveiled in 1712, it created a stir and became a revolutionary way to harness power. This single development pushed the shipping industry to great heights. Sitmar’s FairSky was the last passenger ship built with a steam engine in 1984. Today, many of the existing older ships are still at sea.

They use reciprocating diesel engines to generate power for moving through the water, also known as propulsion engines. Transmission systems operate the actual propellers and manage the number of revolutions and thus the speed.

Diesel Electric or Gas Turbines

The more modern cruise ships use either gas turbine or diesel electric engines for propulsion. The mega-cruise ships use two or more systems for various needs throughout the ship.

Newer ships utilise diesel electric propulsion. Celebrity’s Solstice Class was one of the first to change over to this more efficient means of producing a ship’s energy.  Instead of being connected to the propeller shafts, the principal engines are directed to large generators to produce electricity.

This provides the ship with all of its electrical needs including turning the propellers for movement.

The first company to fit their cruise ships with gas turbines was Royal Caribbean International. The company determined this alternative to be more environmentally friendly and cost efficient than the other options. Ships can sail with fewer members of their maintenance crew as well as reducing the inventory of parts.

By driving its generators to provide power to the ship’s propeller motors, the gas turbine then accelerates its produced heat into the steam turbine. This in turn produces all electricity onboard the ship including the air conditioners and hot water for a bath or shower.

Cunard’s QM2 use azimuth thrusters. These housed propellers can rotate a full 360 degrees to allow maximum flexibility when manoeuvring the large ship in various ports and locations. These thrusters create better fuel efficiency when used in conjunction with the gas turbine or with diesel electric engines.

Cold Ironing

Another emerging trend regarding cruise ship power is the need for efficient power while in port and some ports are implementing shore-based power. This is also known as cold ironing and is an innovative and simple way to reduce CO2 emissions by allowing the ship to power down while in port and provide onboard guest services through shore-provided electricity.

Watch the Video: Port of San Diego Shore Power System

This option is clean and sufficient energy that keeps the lights on rather than remaining idle with engines running and burning fuel. More and more ships have decided to plug into these shore-power systems when available.

New Regulations and Improvements

In response to the recent mishaps passengers have experienced with the loss of electric power and drifting at sea, improvments are now being put into place. The Royal Princess and Norwegian Breakaway were the first and other ships are following suit and now being retrofitted.

It’s called ‘doubling up’ and everything pertaining to running a ship from cables to electrical systems and the engine room are doubled. If the unfortunate event of a fire occurs in the engine room, the second engine room can take over with ample power to remain operational.

Even essential services, including electricity will remain functional. A cruise ship can now navigate without the aid of tugboats, although at a much slower pace and no longer be stranded at sea. The ships are better equipped and safety measures are a priority.

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Learn to Cook with James Martin and his Crew
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James Martin with Olly Smith

Have you ever wanted to replicate the dishes that the celebrity TV chefs create?. Well, why not join James Martin and his selected five Food Heroes for a fun-filled cruise holiday which includes the latest innovation from P&O Cruises called ‘The Cookery Club’?

This will be the newest cookery school at sea with the ovens being lit next March on the largest ship of P&O’s fleet, the Britannia. Onboard, the ship’s agenda will include the most extensive schedule of cooking classes. Don’t worry if you have no experience or feel it is too late to learn a thing or two as classes will be open to anyone regardless of your age or ability in the kitchen.

The Cookery Club is managed under the guidance of James Martin, who plans to be available for various cruises. Participants will get the opportunity to work and create new menus right alongside this famous chef. During sailings when James is not onboard, his talented team will be running the club.

“I’m really excited about joining P&O Cruises in this brand new venture,” exclaimed James. “I’m absolutely delighted with the progress of The Cookery Club, the plans look amazing and I think it will be a world-class space,” he added.

The Cookery Club will have cooking stations for 24 participants

When the celebrity chefs including Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard and Olly Smith are onboard specific sailings, they will be instructing master classes and hosting interactive sessions during lunch and dinner at the chef’s table. The rumour is that there’s bound to be a few more surprise celebrity chefs on various itineraries.

They too will be letting the group benefit from their expertise with specific demonstrations and classes. Details are to be announced soon on the ongoing program.

po-cruises food heroes

Joining P&O Cruises, Rob Cottam, will serve as the resident chef and manager of the club. His goal is to ensure that all classes are reflective of the cooking trends and tastes.

Hailing from Leiths School of Food & Wine and Ashburton Cookery School, Rob is no stranger to foreign cuisine since he is an avid traveler and has worked abroad too. As an expert in Oriental cuisine, some of his specialties that he will share with the group will include fare that hails from Thailand, Vietnam and China.

What type of theme will be taught? According to Rob, it all depends on the ports of call. Whilst in the Mediterranean, the cuisine, will match the specialities of the region. Nothing but locally sourced and fresh ingredients, herbs and spices will be used. Besides whipping up a new dish, participants will learn how to purchase the best with trips to local markets and vineyards.

Once mixing, blending and even trying your hand at souffle, guests will discover how easy it is to recreate these dishes once they are back in their homes.

P&O has created the ideal kitchen space on deck 17 onboard the new 1837-cabin ship Britannia for The Cookery Club.

The ship’s maiden voyage commences on 14 March 2015 to the Mediterranean from Southampton. Cook up a storm with the best on this 14-night cruise which includes calls in Spain, Italy and France.

Whether you are an absolute novice who can’t boil an egg, accomplished at home or simply love to try new recipes, then The Cookery Club is an excellent way to combine a cruise holiday with learning a recipe or two from the professionals.

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