Venture on Ventura

Well, folks, here we go again – it’s Holiday Time!  Yes, we are off on another cruise, this time in the sunny Caribbean on board P & O’s M/V Ventura.

Left the house at 5.00am for the three-hour drive down to Birmingham International Airport.  It was the first time we’d flown from there.  The drive down was straightforward as there wasn’t any traffic at that time of day; also quite a lot of people were still on leave for the Christmas/New Year holidays.  So we arrived at the long-term car park in good time and took the shuttle bus to the airport.

After checking in, which didn’t take too long, we looked around the duty free shops.  Birmingham Airport is a lot bigger than we thought it would be.  We browsed around quite a few shops before heading for the executive lounge as we usually do.  We had a couple of hours before our 11.30am flight.

As usual, we partook of quite a few free drinkies and enjoyed some snacks.  It seemed no time at all before our Thomson flight was announced, and off we went to board the Boeing 767 aircraft for the 8-hour flight to Bridgetown, Barbados.

The flight passed fairly uneventfully.  I enjoyed a couple more drinks and my in-flight meal of beef casserole.  I also read my magazines and did some of the puzzles in The Puzzler magazine.  Soon the captain had switched on the seat belt sign for our final approach into Grantley Adams Airport.

We disembarked the aircraft into the Caribbean sunshine.  A welcome cool breeze blew across the tarmac as we made our way to the bus that would take us to the cruise terminal and M/V Ventura.  It was with a sense of déjà vu that we travelled to the port as we had been here only 10 months before, when we boarded the M/S Braemar for the start of our cruise down to the Amazon.

After about 40 minutes we arrived at the cruise terminal, where we could see the Ventura rising up like a behemoth, towering above all the other ships.  At 115,000 tons she is one of P & O’s largest ships (the other being Azura, the identical twin to Ventura). She carries 3,078 passengers and has 18 decks.  If the truth be told, Ventura looks quite ugly.  She does not have the streamlined, sleek appearance of the ships of yesteryear, but instead looks like a floating apartment block with a point at the front.  She looks big and ungainly and squared-off.

We alighted from the bus and took our place in the zig-zagging queue to go through security and be issued with our boarding passes.  Just before boarding the vessel the ship’s photographers accosted us to try to get us to pose in front of a fake backdrop for our ’embarkation’ photo.  We politely declined; it always makes me laugh the way they always try to take our photos no matter what; I mean who is really going to be looking that photogenic after being up since 4.00am and having an 8-hour flight?  No thanks!  🙂

Eventually we were on board Ventura and we took the lift up to Deck 11 where we had been allocated cabin B238, a spacious balcony cabin on the port side for’ard.  It would be a while yet before our luggage was delivered so we decided just to relax, as we were experiencing the usual mild disorientation/tiredness that follows a long-haul flight.

Trevor crashed out on the bed, but I decided to go for something to eat and maybe a drink. 🙂  I went up to the Waterside, a self-service buffet on the Lido deck (deck 15) and had some cold meats, cheese and salad.  Then I went down to the Ramblas bar and had a couple of glasses of Prosecco, the second of which I brought back to the cabin and drank before the tiredness caught up and I too crashed out on the bed.  🙂

Around 8.00pm a gentle knock on the cabin door announced the arrival of our suitcases.  We emptied everything out and hung up all our clothes before going back to bed for the night.  The Ventura was to stay in port overnight, allowing us to start our Caribbean adventure tomorrow, in the beautiful island of Barbados.

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