Driving up to Southampton docks, we were about to embark on our summer cruise, this time on board P&O’s Ventura. Built in 2008 the ship is one of the biggest in P&O’s fleet, with a capacity for 3200 passengers and weighing in at 116000 tonnes it certainly is one big ferry.
This cruise took us to the European cities of Porto, Vigo and Lisbon as well as the island of Guernsey. From the moment we left Southampton, the weather was pure sun. This meant sea days could be spent on the sun deck, relaxing by the pool and in the sports court playing basketball. Evenings were spent watching the live show, having dinner, topping up on after sun and listening to the tunes in the Jazz bar.
In porto we explored around the back streets, a maze of narrow stairwells, which will suddenly open out into the biggest view of the city and harbour. We somehow managed to keep our bearings and not get lost, making our way back onto the ship just in time for afternoon tea and the evening of more food and entertainment.
Vigo offered much the same, with us heading out to land in the early morning, exploring the city and then making it back onto the ship in the middle of the afternoon. We managed to find a viewing platform at the top of the city which gave us a view of the entire harbour and city. There was a local up on the viewing platform who could talk perfect English and he gave us a talk on the history of Vigo. We learnt it is one of the largest fishing ports in Spain and that the city contains a medieval chapel, Casa de Caridad, which was built to commemorate to defeat of the French in the peninsular war.
Lisbon was definitely the busiest city of the holiday, with a town centre which was packed. There were small cafes, buskers, trams, and street sellers everywhere. The highlight of this city was that as the ship entered and exited the harbour it had to pass under the 25 de Abril bridge, which looks similar to the golden gate bridge. You pass so close to this that from a distance it looks as though the ship is going to plough straight through it.
Due to the harbour in Guernsey being too small, the ship has to anchor up off shore and then use tender boats to ferry passengers onto the island. Unfortunately, tenders aren’t for me so instead I spent the day on the ship relaxing and enjoying the last of the holiday sun before returning to Southampton. A cruise is a really unique experience and if you have never tried one, you will not regret giving one a go.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide