Having just returned from the Fjords and Waterfalls voyage with the Queen Victoria and I thought I would share my thoughts.
This was our first trip on the Victoria and our first visit to the Fjords and I had high expectations ….. did it meet them?
We live in Brighton so decided to drive to Southampton which takes around an hour and a half, Cunard offer free car parking so we didn't have to worry about the car when we got there. We arrived in Southampton just before midday and as we drove over the Itchen Bridge I got my first view of the Queen Victoria and started to get excited, our voyage was about to begin. Much has been said about the looks of the Victoria and her Vista twin but in my opinion they are both good looking ships, I think the Victoria has a slight edge due to her tiered stern. Of course they don't have the look of the QE2 or other classic ships but compared to most modern monstrosities they are miles ahead. ( need i mention the Oasis of the Seas or the Norwegian Breakaway …. YUCK!! ).
Anyway I digress ………. Arriving at the Ocean Terminal or cases were quickly taken by the awaiting porters and our car collected by the CPS staff and we proceeded to the terminal. We were travelling Queens Grill so get priority boarding which makes life so much easier. Check in was quick and easy and we proceeded to security where a queue had already formed, we proceeded through security and were on board the ship around fifteen minutes after arriving at the terminal. ( that wouldn't happen at an airport!! )
Once on board the ship we were met by our butler Sanu who greeted us warmly took our carry on luggage and escorted us to our suite which was a Q1, 7142 the Aquitania suite located at the stern of the ship.
What can I say about the Suite …… its large and well laid out, the sitting room is in the middle with the dining area to the left and the bedroom to the right. The sitting room had a large sofa, two opera style chairs and a large coffee table, there is a flat screen TV and separate DVD player, in a cupboard under the TV is a selection of board games including: Monopoly, Chess, Scrabble, backgammon, packs of cards. The bedroom has a large walk in closet with more than enough storage space, the bed is the usual kingsize Seely bed which of course is very comfortable. The bathroom has a huge ….. really huge whirlpool bath! and a good size shower, it contains the usual bath products and there is plenty of storage, it contains three wash basins! The dining room has a table which can seat up to six.
There are three doors which lead out on to the balcony, one in the dining room, the sitting room and the bedroom. The balcony itself is massive ….. We have stayed in a Q1 on the Queen Elizabeth and I would say that the balcony on the QV is over double the depth! The balcony is half the rear of the ship and offers great views, there is a table that can seat six, three sun loungers, and two chairs with foot rests.
Sounds perfect doesn't it? well it is …… nearly. The furniture on the balcony is metal rather than the lovely teak found on the QM2 and the paint on the furniture itself has started to peal and the cushions are a little stained. Half the balcony is visible to anyone looking down from the above cabins or from the pool area on deck 9, this was particularly bad during sail away parties and at times I felt as if I was in a goldfish bowl with everyone looking upon us. Im sure they weren't but I still found myself retreating at times to the rear half of the balcony. That being said the suite itself was very comfortable and well furnished and kept immaculate by the butler and his assistant.
Our butler Sanu was very friendly and helpful and offered us lots of advice about the different ports we were visiting, he wasn't quite as efficient as Adreas from the QM2 but wasn't far from it. Sanu quickly worked out which drinks we were drinking and kept our fridge stocked accordingly, he also brought snacks each day including crisps and nuts.
We had a lovely table by the window in the Queens Grill restaurant, the waiter, assistant waiter and sommelier were attentive and worked very hard to make sure we were happy however ……… for the first time I noticed that there seems to be less staff than usual and they all seemed to be a little rushed. The food was good, very good but not perfect. I wish I could explain why it wasn't quite perfect but I can't …… have I become too spoilt by Cunard? are my expectations too high? Anyway caviar and foie gras are no longer on the menu but the maitre d can arrange these items for you. I know I shouldn't eat foie gras but its so yummy and the chefs did a really good job of preparing it.
The ship …. Queen Victoria is beautiful, all her rooms are well appointed and tastefully decorated, she doesn't have the grand feel of the QM2 but she has an elegance all of her own. I loved this ship, she had an atmosphere on board that made me feel very comfortable and at home. She is very easy to navigate around and has plenty of outside space, she never once felt overcrowded …. even on the two sea days. The spa is a little disappointing and no where near as nice as the Canyon Ranch Spa on the QM2.
Other passengers, well I'm 32 years old and I have never felt so young, but that said everyone on the whole was fun and friendly which is what I have come to expect from the Cunard Clientele. The new dress code is now in place and on the whole was adhered too, I did however see two men in the dining room without a jacket which suggests the dress code is not being enforced.
We visited four ports in Normay: Stavanger, Olden, Geiranger & Bergen.
What a beautiful place Norway is ……. stunning. I could talk in length about each port but Im trying to keep this short. ( which is proving a little difficult )
We didn't do any of the Cunard excursions as we wanted to do our own thing, Olden and Geiranger were my favourites. We hired bicycles in Olden and spent the day sightseeing, we saw the two churches, cycled around a nearby lake and around part of the Fjord itself. In Geiranger we walked up to a viewing area which offered amazing views down towards the ship which was anchored in the fjord nestled between the beautiful snow capped mountains and the waterfalls. It was truly a sight to behold. The sail away from Geiranger was amazing one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen! Infact I loved every sailaway, sitting on the balcony watching the beautiful world pass us by whilst sipping on a cold glass of wine…….. total bliss!
Be warned that Norway is very expensive, And don't bother going to the aquarium in Bergen. It cost £20 each and was so disappointing, any local sea life centre would provide a better day out.
Anyway I only wanted to do a short review and I have waffled on far to much!
Just to sum up I loved this trip, Norway is beautiful and well worth the visit. Queen Victoria herself is a wonderful ship, I loved her ….. and she has become my new favourite ship! I never thought anything could beet the QM2 but the QV has done it. I really recommend her, she has an atmosphere about her that is just very welcoming, warm and comfortable ….. well done Cunard!