My recent cruise on the Queen Victoria helped me understand what the term "quintessentially British" means in a Cunard context. It means a floating retirement village inhabited overwhelmingly by 1200 former Coronation Street characters. While I understand that the cruise was pitched at retirees and I fall into that category, it also pushes the line of elegance afloat and a cruise meant as a reward for people who have had some success in life (I know that sounds pompous but its only what Cunard peddles). Flannelette track suit pants, zimmer frames, bingo, stodgy food and a constant whingeing about the cost of things certainly took the elegance out of the cruise very quickly. Non-British passengers had to put up with constant jingoism which in a perverse way probably confirmed all the terrible British stereo types.
My wife had previously been on a long QM2 "voyage" and recently on a Princess Cruise. Our expectations were high, overly high as it turned out.
The entertainment served up was best characterized as suitable for Butlin's holiday camp. Mediocre and safe, inoffensive and brief. Well the dears might go to sleep and they did. Professional karaoke at best.
The ports of call, however, were wonderful and a highlight of the cruise.
The crew were all very helpful. Tour advice was sound, sommeliers had the knack of making you feel as if you too knew something about wine, the wait staff were friendly and tried hard but probably knew little about the food they were serving. An exception was the Verandah Restaurant. We had a fabulous night there and I can highly recommend it.
I don't mean to carp but the Cunard part of the cruise was a disappointment. Obviously there is a profit imperative for Cunard and getting bodies on board is what its all about. But, Cunard markets itself as being above the pack, of being something desirable and that certainly was not my experience.
I went back to back onto the QM2 and I had a much better experience, one much more in line with our expectations.
If the Queen Victoria is a second category of Cunard experience, it should be marketed that way.