Queen Victoria Cruise Review by EastSideGuy: Panama Canal Cruise - 16 Days/NYC to SF
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Panama Canal Cruise - 16 Days/NYC to SF
Great cruise on the QV from New York to San Francisco.
- Fast embarkation in New York, since times were staggered and many had boarded in Southampton
- Very comfortable, quiet, well furnished cabin with king bed, love seat and 3 closets on Deck 4. Had outside obstructed view cabin. View was only partially blocked by a lifeboat, and was definitely worth the small extra amount of money over inside. Was cozy and perfect for one, but would recommend either a larger cabin on Deck 1 or a balcony cabin for two.
- Overall excellent crew. The tone was set by the very professional captain - the first female captain in Cunard history. Pleasant steward (though somewhat shy), good waiters (especially Nitin), some great bartenders (especially Bojan, Quentin and Roger), and good photographer (Lucas). Would give special commendation to Dan, the guest artist who taught the water color classes, Carlo, the brilliant pianist and singer in the Commodore Club, More Graham, the DJ in Hemispheres, and Libby, the Entertainment Director for many of the trivia contests.
- Beautiful decor overall, with thankfully little glitz. The emphasis on the history of the line is very nice.
- Large, well staffed and stocked library and bookstore, and good variety of lectures. As usual, Cunard places more of an emphasis on intellectual pursuits than standard cruise lines.
- Excellent gym and spa, with prices in line with luxury hotels, especially with the myriad on board specials. The royal bathhouse with the hydrotherapy pool and various steam rooms was especially good on the five chiller days at sea. Nicola did a great job leading classes, Silvio was a great massage therapist, and Francesca did great a facial - all had a wonderful attitude as well.
- Ship is very well laid out, with good passenger flow. Despite being full, the ship never seemed crowded.
- Emphasis on thoughtful activities, such as fencing and ballroom dancing, and the obligatory trivia contests.
- Pool areas rather quiet, with soft music. Only poolside live music was mid-day by one pool, so it was easy to relax, read and sleep, rather than having to listen to dreadful Jimmy Buffett and reggae music.
- Food is average to good in the dining room. The spa choices and simpler dishes were the best bets. Portions are small, so helped with trying to lose weight during voyage. Breakfast was good, as they did a good kippers with runny poached eggs. The dining room is beautiful, as well. Lido was good for a buffet restaurant, especially good for Sunday English roast lunch and Asian buffet, though pastries were rather sad, and a larger variety of ice creams would be welcome. Todd English was good, though not well marketed and never crowded. Golden Lion is good for pub lunches, though packed at peak hours, and they do run out of popular items later.
- Not as much of a constant hard sell or nickel and diming as on other lines, especially Celebrity.
- Enforcement of dress codes in the dining room - formal night means just that, and casual night is a jacket with no tie. Nice seeing people properly dressed for a change. Those on Cunard usually understand this going into a voyage, and are happy to adhere to the code. Those who want to wear flip flops and cut offs have other lines to sail.
- Intelligent, well mannered, interesting passengers for the most part.
CONS (very few):
- Stewards seemed to have a lot of cabins to service, so it was hard for them to do extras such as fold clothes left on the sofa.
- Several employees with a bit of an attitude - one of the Indian waiters in the Golden Lion became a bit of a joke as the worst employee on the ship. One of the male staff at the pursers desk and one of the female staff at the photography shop could have done with some lessons in customer service. But the vast majority of crew had a good attitude.
- Minor caveat here, but they need to tone down the florescent lighting the hallways.
Cunard ran a shuttle in Fort Lauderdale to and from the Galleria, which was well used and very welcome. General consensus was that one day in Jamaica was enough for a lifetime. Montego Bay was quite charmless, and there was a constant feeling of being hustled. The Doctors Cave Bathing Club was a nice respite with a good beach, but unfortunately was overrun with a lot of loud, overweight Carnival passengers. Cartagena was charming as usual, and almost everyone wanted more time there. Huatulco was a happy surprise - small and safe with beautiful beaches and a pleasant center (La Crucecita) - the safety aspect was especially good for the number of elderly passengers on board.
The transit of the Panama Canal was the highlight of the trip. Fascinating nine hour trip from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean - well worth doing at least once.
Would sail on the QV again in a second. Surprisingly, preferred it to the QM2. As spectacular as the QM2 is, the QV is better laid out and on a more intimate scale. The ship had the right balance - big but not too big, plenty of activities, but plenty of quiet spaces. Well done Cunard. Less
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