My wife & I have just been on the Queen Victoria to Portugal, Spain Madeira & the Canaries. If we didn't know better we might never go on a cruise again due to our experience. But we do know better having previously cruised on the Celebrity Constellation.
Here's why we'll not go Cunard again;
Much of the food was of works canteen quality.
Bananas so bruised & over ripe they were inedible.
Fruit was only available at breakfast time whereas on the Baltic cruise we did on the Celebrity Constellation four years ago it was available all day.
The ice cream from the Victoria machine was of watery budget quality.
In the Golden Lion pub the definition of cappuccino was ordinary budget coffee with a squirt of cream from an aerosol can.
I'm not kidding when I say you can get a better cup on the Red Funnel Isle of Wight ferry than the so called 'White Star Service' Queen Victoria. Laughable!
Every variety of tea was available in tea bags but it made no difference once milk was poured in it just tasted of UHT milk. Someone said the semi skimmed was fresh milk & so it was, in which case why not the whole milk too!
The brown bread toast wasn't much better than cheap white bread died brown.
The buffet food in the Lido was in containers that often weren't labelled so it wasn't clear what the food was!
The desserts left out in the afternoons in the Lido were of budget quality.
If you wanted a cream tea with clotted cream in the afternoon then forget it. The cream again was out of the dreaded aerosol can with the same consistency as shaving foam.
Though there was someone trying to convince us to go for the Veuve clicquot afternoon tea for which one had to pay extra, by saying the normal tea was nowhere near as good!
No doubt he was right, but it was a surprise to see Cunard staff running down Cunard.
On the Constellation there were experimental culinary journeys for free. Stir fries every day. Much more variety of pasta dishes & salads than on the Victoria.
In the Victoria Britannia restaurant my wife's steak was rare when she asked for medium. Duck was so over cooked it tough & inedible on two occasions. The average pub can do better.
There was water dripping for a week from ceiling above the hot water station in the Lido. So they placed 'do not slip' signs around the area & numerous towels as a trip hazard over the floor to catch the water over flowing from the ice cream container they'd put there to try & catch the water rather than mend the leak.
The hot water station at rear of ship was closed during the day time so anyone at the rear that wanted a hot drink had to walk half way along the boat to the hot station in the mid ships. I can only assume this is due to the 10% staffing cuts I'd heard Cunard have made to save money.
The hot water stations were badly laid out. One would expect them to be laid out in the order of cups, tea bags, hot water, sugar, spoons & finally a container to put the used tea bag in. However the order was different to this so people were bumping into one another back & forth.
The whole of the upper deck of the Queen Victoria seems to be designed to be nothing more than a sun deck. There are two outdoor pools. Not much good in the bay of Biscay in March!
There was a charge for use of the tiny indoor spa. I only saw someone in there once perhaps because of this.
Whereas deck layout on Celebrity Constellation & Eclipse is far better designed. Each has an indoor pool at the mid ship called a 'Solarium' with glass roofs so not weather dependant.
We always think one of the nicest places to enjoy the view when leaving port is to sit on the rear deck of a ship where one can look back & take in the view as the port slowly recedes into the distance. Perhaps to be dining there alfresco at the same time.
This is possible on the Constellation & Eclipse which have dining tables round the rear of the ship with unobstructed views. Whereas the Victoria was just a mass of sunbeds like Blackpool beach, yet another pool & the view if sat down was spoiled by tinted glass panels presumably there to stop draughts hitting the people on sun beds!
In fact the panels were all round the ship & spoiled the feel of it.
All a bit tacky.
The peace was disturbed each time we left port by a loud mediocre club band playing almost nothing but reggae. What's wrong with peace & quite!
How many typical adults would want to start dancing at 5pm?
The only people dancing at these so called 'sail away parties' were two male & one female Cunard dance partners trying to sell overpriced 'champagne'. Yet more tackiness!
Cunard seem to have created a surreal combination of being stuck in the past with English class system with snobby names like Veuve Clicquot whilst at the same time serving food in the Lido of works canteen quality!
Why would I go Cunard 2nd class again.
There was no 1st or 2nd class on the Celebrity Constellation. Everything seemed like 1st class where it really mattered. Yet the Constellation cruise was a similar price per night so far better value.
The Victoria upstairs restaurant & some of the highest deck areas were exclusively for the'Queens Grill' passengers which is an acronym for 1st class. So whilst this might have the effect of making that minority of passengers feel better, it must make the rest of the passengers including us feel somewhat 2nd class. Actually I'd say at times more like 3rd class taking into account what I say about standards.
Prices weren't marked in the Jewellery shop. I asked the sales assistant why. He said they never price jewellery in exclusive jewellers. Funny how Parkhouse & Wyatt in Southampton have 'Â£28,000 watches in their window with the price marked. Yet Cunard are so snobby they don't mark the prices! The 1st thing I want to know is what does something cost.
Then there's a sign saying 25% of prices. But off what price if the price isn't marked in the first place!
The sales assistant said he could judge what people could afford.
In other words they'll sting you if they think you have a few bob to spare!
My wife asked if they had T shirts for children as a memento. The East European sales assistant with characteristic East European Brusqueness simply replied 'no'!
We noticed on our balcony & in other places the Victoria is showing signs of rusting as the photo shows. I hope Cunard got a corrosion warranty as she's only four & a half years old!
For several days an area to the corner of the mid ship pool was covered with tarpaulins & welding was taking place!
On the upside our state room was kept immaculate by our steward. All areas on board were very clean.
One of the catering staff was very helpful with gluten free food for my wife.
The 'made to order' pizzas were as good as on the Constellation.
The entertainment was very good. I especially enjoyed the harpist, the string quartet the classical pianist. The Celtic Heartbeat show & the amazing Nicola Loud on violinist.
Also talks by an ex Concord pilot about Concorde & an ex BA pilot talking about navigation.
Most staff were pleasant & polite.
Overall I feel Cunard need to up their game or they are going to lose their market share to the superior Celebrity line.