My wife & I have just been on Cunard's 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. Fortunately we do know better having previously cruised on the Celebrity Constellation.
Here's why we'll not cruise with Cunard again;
Much of the food was of works canteen quality.
Bananas so bruised & over ripe they were inedible. We were told this was because we'd been at sea for 3 days!
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.
There were tough fleshy orange coloured budget Spanish tomatoes.
How much more would nice sweet red Italian ones cost?
Such penny pinching is pathetic. What does this say about Cunard management?
More about marketing BS than substance I'm afraid.
In the Golden Lion pub the definition of cappuccino was ordinary budget coffee with a squirt of cream from an aerosol can. The coffee on the Red Funnel Isle of Wight car ferry is better than on the so called 'White Star Service' Queen Victoria. Laughable!
The ice cream from the machine was watery budget quality.
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 dyed brown.
The buffet food in the Lido was in containers that were often unlabelled so it wasn't clear what the food was!
The desserts left out in the afternoons in the Lido were of budget quality. The sandwiches were 'find the filling'. On one day there were nice rolls with tuna & corn. But one day only!
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 you wouldn't expect Cunard staff to be slating something Cunard were offering.
On the Constellation there were experimental culinary journeys for free & stir fries every day & a much greater variety of pasta dishes & salads than in the Victoria Lido. Salads in the Lido were very basic.
In the Victoria Britannia restaurant my wife's steak was rare when she asked for medium. Duck was overcooked & tough so inedible on two occasions.
There was water dripping for a week from the 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 wanting 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 is designed as a giant 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 hydrotherapy pool. I only saw someone in there once perhaps because of this.
Whereas the deck layout on Celebrity Constellation & Eclipse is of a much better design. Each has an indoor pool at the mid ship called a 'Solarium' with glass roofs so not weather dependant.
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 in the sunset bar with unobstructed views. Whereas the Victoria was just a mass of sunbeds like Blackpool beach with yet another pool & the view if sat down was spoiled by tinted glass panels presumably to stop draughts hitting the people on sun beds, some of whom looked like they'd be prone to hypothermia!
In fact the glass 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!
The Victoria upstairs restaurant & some of the highest deck areas were exclusively for the 'Queens grill' passengers which is Cunard's synonym for 1st class. So whilst this might have the effect of making that minority of passengers feel 'special' it made us feel somewhat 2nd class & probably the rest of the Britannia class passengers too. Actually I'd say at times more like 3rd class taking into account the standards. I do not think this is the correct business model for the 21st century.
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 something costs.
Then there's a sign saying 25% off prices. But off what price if it 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. I hope Cunard got a corrosion warranty as she's only four & a half years old!
For several days the bar area of the mid ships pool was covered with tarpaulins & welding was taking place!
Our friends found they couldn't touch the handrail in their balcony cabin for several days because on the first day someone varnished it & presumably had put it on too thick so it remained tacky!
On the upside our state room was kept immaculate by our steward Braddi who was very pleasant & polite.
All areas on board were very clean. One of the catering staff called Ootam was very helpful with gluten free food for my wife & he was always cheerful.
The 'made to order' pizzas were as good as on the Constellation.
One of our waiters called Paul was very pleasant, but the other one seemed like he's rather not be there. Fine but he ought to try & hide that fact!
Very good. I especially enjoyed the harpist, the string quartet & the classical pianist, though they got his programme details wrong. The Celtic Heartbeat show was superb as was the amazing Young Musician of the year Nicola Loud. You'll not hear a better violinist anywhere & she was charming too. Talks by an ex Concord pilot about Concorde & an ex BA pilot talking about navigation were very interesting.
Cunard seem to have created a surreal combination being stuck in past with the snobby English class system with names like 'Veuve Clicquot' & pretending to be treating you with their White Star service as if you're a film star, whilst at the same time in the Lido serving food of works canteen quality!
Why would one want to go Cunard Britannia class, in other words 2nd class.
There's no 1st or 2nd class on Celebrity ships. Instead everything was 1st class where it really matters yet the price per night is no dearer.
Consequently in future we'll cruise on Celebrity ships.