Everyone has their favorite cruise ship. Some extoll the modern convenience of Queen Elizabeth. Others swear by the majesty of Queen Mary 2.
For me, Queen Victoria is Cunard's best-kept prize: a ship large enough to offer the usual cruise ship fare yet small enough to be intimate. For this voyage, I traveled for the first time in the Queen's Grill. There has been a lot written on Cruise Critics' boards about Queen vs. Princess Grill Suites. Many wonder if the different experiences are worth the difference in price.
I had a wonderful journey in the Queen Victoria's Princess Grill Suite last summer so I can understand the questions. However, having gone up a level I can tell you that the queen's grill experience is superior. Our butler was quietly efficient and our housekeeper was prompt and cheery. The stall shower in the bathroom itself was a true luxury. The room layout, with a curtain able to separate the sleeping area from the couch in front of it was airy and roomy. Our favorite spirits were always well stocked and small treats, like hors d'oeuvres before meals were appreciated.
The real highlight of Victoria is her food. In the Queen's Grill, service was unmatched. The highlight is ordering off the menu and our team was all too happy to make suggestions. A special birthday cake was made (without our request) and saved for the next night. Favorite muffins were saved at breakfast. Drinks were remembered and served without prompting. Dining in the Grill Suite alone was worth the price and made for a memorable voyage. The food was out of this world- many starred land based restaurants would be envious!
No cruise is perfect, though QV comes close. I have two main critiques. The ship was ridiculously crowded. It seemed to be operating over capacity, which may be due to the sudden fare drop before we sailed. The staff told us they never saw such crowds before. There were long queues for everything- elevators, tour departures, performances etc. All the seating at the pool and public areas was continually occupied. This made us grateful for haven that the grills deck provided.
Finally, the cruise tour office was dreadful. Port presenter Gavin gave lackluster presentations (why oh why did Cunard remove their informative travel guides on tv for this man's presentations) that were often filled with misinformation (a tour in Estonia was described as a shopping tour- but there was no shopping of any kind) or just plain missing (the night tours in Russia were not discussed!) Several of the tours stated that they were rigorous with lots of walking and yet elderly patrons with canes were allowed to go. This meant the rest of the group lagged behind (this was particularly egregious in the Hermitage where we had to wait up for several passengers who couldn't handle stairs). There were huge queues to disembark at each tour stop. This voyage pretty much destroyed any interest I might have in future Cunard shore excursions.
Thankfully, those were the only sour notes in an incredible voyage. I look forward to returning to Cunard and the world of the Grills again!