Ventura vs Independence of the Seas: Does Bigger Mean Better?

This month, both P&O’s Ventura and Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas will set sail for the first time, sparking a great debate about which of these two immense ships is really the better. With the Ventura claiming to be the largest ship ever built for the UK and Independence of the Seas threatening to be the largest cruise ship in the entire world, let’s take a look at just how closely the two line up.

Independence of the Seas Size Comparison

When you look at the two juggernauts side by side, they don’t look too dissimilar. To give you an idea of just how big Ventura is, it’s over 20m longer than London Bridge. As you can imagine, that’s almost frighteningly big. Yet, if you were to take Independence of the Seas and stand it on its stern, it would be taller than the Chrysler Building in New York. Heck, it would even stand taller than Paris’ Eiffel Tower; it’s quite simply enormous.

Stats aren’t everything, especially when it comes to cruise ships, though it can help to have clout. Looking at how the two match in terms of size and weight, it’s clear that Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas has the slight edge.

Ventura Independence of the Seas
Length 290m 338m
Tonnage 115,000 160,000
Decks 15 15
Crew 1,200 1,360
Passengers 3,597 4,375
Cabins 1,546 1,817

At 160,000 tons, Independence of the Seas weighs more than around 80,000 cars. It makes you wonder how all that can possibly float! Ventura pulls in at a slightly less forceful 115,000 tons, but that’s still pretty impressive. Naturally, it’s not just size that matters, it’s what you do with it. The number of cabins and potential passengers reveal slightly more about the two ships. Ventura’s maximum capacity is around 3,600 passengers, which would end up at a space ratio of something like 35 tons per passenger, when you take the crew into account. This is roughly the same space ratio of tons per passenger as Independence of the Seas, which shows that despite their different sizes and weights, they both use the space similarly.

Ventura Size Comparison

Onboard each of the ships, things are closer still. There’s very little to choose between the two, besides Venture’s slight advantage on pool numbers and Independence of the Seas’ increase in Jacuzzis (Oh and the lack of a cinema). So what does all this mean? It means that it’s all going to come down to the quality of each room. The dining, the range of drinks, the quality of the cabins, the shows, the decks, the staff and the cleanliness… everything matters. If either of these brutes is going to win this battle, they’ll really need to impress on the inside.

Ventura Independence of the Seas
Restaurants 11 11
Bars 12 12
Pools 5 3
Jacuzzis 4 6
Show Lounges 2 2
Library Yes Yes
Casino Yes Yes
Cinema Yes No

Which Ship will Please the Foodies?

P&O hope that the Ventura’s fine dining holds the key to the ship. The ship’s signature restaurant, The White Room – crafted by Marco Pierre White, offers Italian cooking at its best. Inspired by the specialist restaurants in Venice and Florence, everything from the décor to the service is assured to be spot on. The rest of the variety of dining areas ranges from the family-orientated Beach House to the reservation-only Bay Tree.

Royal Caribbean aim their Independence of the Seas to be continue to look just as big on the inside as it does on the out. The main dining room is split into three sections named after three of Shakesphere’s plays: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Othello. With a decent range of other specialist dining, such as the Italian Portofino and the Asian cuisine of Jade, they’ll be plenty to choose from onboard.

P&O Ventura

Who has the Largest Wine Cellar?

Ventura again turns up the class when it comes to drinking, with the curious Metropolis bar. A 20m floor-to-ceiling plasma screen will effortlessly display your favourite city landscapes as you relax back with a cocktail. The ambitious project captures the skylines of London, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney, taking nearly a year to craft in the process. Elsewhere onboard Ventura, you can indulge with champagne and caviar in Red Bar or join the British bunch in the cosy Exchange, featuring model trains trundling around the bar.

Meanwhile Independence of the Seas offers the signature Schooner Bar with speciality drinks, cosy leather chairs and delightful teak-wood décor. More intimate experiences can be found in the ships vast array of lounges. Vintages wine bar and the Champagne bar are the places to find vintage tipples and Jazz with a cocktail can be found at the Viking Crown.

Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas

Leisure and Entertainment

The centrepiece for entertainment on Ventura is the monolithic Arena, located on Deck 7. Seating up to 785 people, the setting promises West End-style shows, cabarets and game shows. Not forgetting the ship’s intriguing ‘Cirque Ventura’, where you can learn all kinds of circus tricks from stilt walking to swinging the trapeze! For fitness and sports, the Ventura will provide five pools; the largest of which will be the Laguna Pool on Deck 15, a beauty salon, a spa, a sports court and gym, which also includes bookable exercise classes.

Independence of the Seas’ Alhambra Theatre will take Broadway as its focal point and provide live musicals, performances and comedy. Elsewhere, Studio B offers professional ice-skating shows and free use of the rink with available instruction for beginners. Along with cookery lessons and wine tasting, there’s a great range to the ship’s entertainment facilities. By way of leisure, you can expect a nine hole miniature golf course, a climbing wall, jogging track, spa and of course the famed FlowRider surf simulator.

Which Would you Cruise on?

Overall, both ships seem to be looking pretty complete. Independence of the Seas has the bigger size and the more options with, such as the climbing wall. Yet, Ventura seems to have gone to considerable effort to produce areas such as the Metropolis bar and The White Room restaurant. Ventura will arrive in Southampton on April 6th, where it will host a variety of launch parties until mid-April when the naming ceremony will be performed by Dame Helen Mirren. Independence of the Seas will arrive in Southampton slightly later on April 25th, their naming ceremony will be on April 30th. They’ve yet to announce the ship’s godmother, but British band Scouting for Girls are set to play onboard. All in all it will be interesting to see this play out and one things for sure – it’s the British cruisers that really win. Never have we had such a great choice of ships on offer. Let battle commence…

Update: Oasis of the Seas to become the world’s largest cruise ship.

20 thoughts on “Ventura vs Independence of the Seas: Does Bigger Mean Better?

  1. In your picture comparison you have the Chrysler Building listed….that is the Empire State Building in New York you have pictured. The Chrysler building has a much more of a rounded point.

  2. Hi Alex, thanks for your comment! I definitely used the original Chrysler Building, however you’re right it does look a little like the Empire State. I think maybe the Chrysler got a bit warped during the editing process.

    The image has been redone now, so hopefully it looks a bit more accurate. You might have refresh to see the change. Thanks again.

  3. I’m going on Independence in a few weeks and thoroughly looking forward to it. Surely you’ve used the wrong ships in your graphics. The ship standing on it’s stern is Ventura and the one set against the bridges is in fact Independence?

  4. Hi Simon, gosh you’re right. I’m not having much luck with these images am I? They are going to be fixed imminently! Thanks so much for spotting that.

    I haven’t sailed Independence myself yet, but I thought Ventura was great. I’m sure you’ll have a great time. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts after you return.

  5. I think it’s very clear that you haven’t sailed on the Independence yet… you’ve gotten a lot of your facts wrong! I came back off a 2 week cruise with it just yesterday and i can say that the dining room is split up into King Lear, MACBETH (not Othello), and Romeo and Juliet.
    There IS a cinema onboard… for some reason you said there wasn’t. It’s called The Screening Room, and it’s located on deck 2 near the conference rooms.
    You failed to mention the onboard waterpark H20 Zone, which actually also includes a fourth pool… albeit a small one. The ship actually has 8 jacuzzis: 2 cantilevered ones, 3 large ones by the main pool area, 1 near the adult pool in the solarium, and 2 small ones for kids in the H2O Zone.
    Also, you didn’t mention anything about shopping… not even the Royal Promenade that’s unique to Royal Caribbean.
    I’d appreciate it if you added these points in and after looking at them closely, I think we can see which ship is the real winner here! In both size and innovation!

  6. Hi
    I have just completed my first cruise on Independence and would just like to confirm that Independence does have a cinema also another large lounge not mentioned is Pyramids Lounge, also a sauna, also a large gym that also includes comprehensive free weights. also 9 hole crazy golf, also golf simulator, and the casino is pretty impressive…………the list is endless.


  7. Hi I have been lucky enough to go on both ships and to pretty much the same locations around the Med. Whilst I enjoyed both ships I would have to say that I did prefer the Ventura. The reason being that it just seemed to be better organised, in particular the ice shows onboard the Independence could only hold a small number of guests to which you had to queue for a ticket for ages and then only a small percentage of the passengers got to see the show.

    Plus I travelled with my mother in law who is disabled and the Independence didn’t put on buses that catered for disabled passengers so we had to find our own way in and out of ports. The Ventura did and seen as alot of passengers on both ships were disabled this was very important!

    That said both ships are beautiful and will really offer you an amazing holiday!

  8. I have travelled on both the Ventura and Independence of the Seas and I have to say Ventura is so superior. Everyones needs are catered for so much better on p&o and as a child aged 16 i think that that the independence did offer good attractions but the way they used them was awful. Ventura is also far better looking than Independence and the staff are far superior also. I agree with the comment about the ice rink and the surf simulator is really overrated and it wasnt just me who thought so. Cirque Ventura is FANTASTIC!!! so much to learn so little time. Ventura has a far better lay out on board and after going onboard Ventura y holiday on Independence was put to shame. Anyone of any age should book Ventura or Azura straight away. Royal Carribean’s times up.

  9. Ive also been on IOS (once) and Ventura (twice). IOS has more bells and whistles (Rock climbing, skating, promenade etc) however for sheer practicality Ventura beats it handsdown. Try finding a seat anywhere on IOS on a wet seaday-no chance. Ventura swallows passengers much better with larger and more bars. Also, Ventura bar prices are about 40% less than IOS and excursion costs are lower with free shuttles in most ports.

  10. I got married on Ventura about 18 monts ago. Fantastic experience which I would recommend to anyone. Also just had a short cruise to Cork in Ireland on Independence of The Sea. Both ships are fantastic and I don’t think anyone would be dissapointented with either. If push comes to shove I think Ventura has the slight edge. IOS has a little more to do, especially for youngsters, the promenade is stunning and the cabins are great. Ventura though gets the edge on service, the crew are brilliant, the food is stunning and price. IOS, being an American ship, every thing is in dollars and once you have done the conversion things are about 30% more expensive on IOS. That said if I get the chance to cruise on either again I will jump at it. They are both superb and cruising is the only way to holiday.

  11. I have recently been on both and most of you people have no idea what you are talking about, the ventura is a beautiful ship, and its elegance is intense. on the other hand IOS is amazing, the independence is more of a family based ship, with more activities with an amazing arcade.
    I suggest IOS but if you are interested in having a relaxing cruise without the kids(romantic holiday) then P&O is for you!

  12. Hi
    I might only be 14 but i have been cruising 5 times. All on diffrent ships, diffrent liners. I have been on the Independence of the seas and the ventura. And i can say that the independence of the seas is by far the best. Me and my family have been on luxary ships such as Holland and america, and celebraty cruises. But The Independence compleatly tops the lot. I can also so that their is definatly a cineam on ship showing films only been relised in the weeks pre to the cruise.

    However i cannot say the same for the P&o linnner. It was awful. The staff rude, rooms dirty, facillities out of order or none existant. I would not recomend it to anyone.

    if you are looking for the right cruise. Than go independance. And you can’t go far wrong.

  13. Hi
    Been on Independence and Ventura and both ships were delightful to cruise on. All amenities on board both ships were to a very high standard and accommodation and cabin crew excellent. It is not all about size and in my opinion out of all the cruises I have done the Ventura was for me for a higher grading regarding food, cabin layout, attention to detail, and entertainment second to none. HAppy cruising all

  14. Hi, yes you can get married on Ventura. They have a room called The Ivory Suite
    which is a purpose-built function room with seating for up to 40 guests. Very sophisticated and elegant setting on the Sun Deck. If you would like to arrange a wedding you can go through a cruise agency like or call P&O Cruises directly.

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