This was a short three night cruise visiting Belgium and France and was booked for our wedding anniversary. My Wife is disabled and a wheel chair user so I have commented on each part on any good and bad experiences in each of the sections.
We stayed at the IBIS budget in Southampton, which is as basic as it gets but it was clean and well located, on 10 minutes from the dock gates.
The price of hotel room was very competitive, you do have to pay to park (£6), although it is free for those with a blue badge. There is a TGI and McDonalds on the site and restaurants in the other two hotels (Novotel and IBIS) that you can use.
The hotel was great for accessibility and we were immediately allocated an accessible room which made life easier for us. The service from the front desk was very good indeed.
We sailed from Dock Gate four, which we have done before and used the on site parking which as normal was first class and highly recommended.
The check in was quick and easy, although we were allocated to a special section for wheel chair users, I think everyone else probably checked in quicker than we did.
The welcome to the ship was very good, professional and even had a red carpet laid out. We got on the ship just after 12 and asked when the rooms would be available and were told that they have been available since 10 a.m. which is very impressive.
The Queen Victoria
She is a beautiful ship, not as big as some of the competitors but stylish in most ways and spotlessly clean everywhere. Although a smaller ship, she is longer than I expected as it still seemed to take some time to walk from one end to the other.
It did get a little crowed at times as she is narrower than other boats, with only one corridor running from front to back on some decks.
The staff were very polite and attentive to all needs and we found the service in all bars and restaurants to be very good with not feeling of being ignored or rushed though meals which was nice. The wine waiter was very knowledgeable about the wine and automatically adjusted his comments and suggestions to our budget after we had ordered the first bottle of wine, which saved any awkward conversations.
The food was outstanding in the main dinning room, which a good choice each night and staff that knew about the food which is helpful. Any requests for adjustments to the food, leaving out one ingredient etc. was never an issue and did not slow up the service.
The buffet was of good quality and with a reasonable selection, but like all boats it is what it is and we did not struggle to find something to eat when we had lunch there.
Being only three days we did not take part in many activities, which the exception of having the afternoon tea which is served in the spectacular Queens Ballroom. It is the perfect setting to have your tea in fine bone china, eat tiny sandwiches and cakes and enjoy quiet music from a quartet or piano. Civilisation at its best and would highly recommend.
We did take in a couple of shows which were not the best that I have seen to tell the truth, one of which we left after about half an hour.
One disappointing factor is that the boat has twelve disabled cabins but only 8 disabled spaces in the theatre, so we have to get there earlier to ensure we see the show. When we asked at the reception desk they suggested that we pay the $57 per person to sit in one of the boxes if we wanted to guarantee that we got a seat.
The matter was not helped with the number of non disabled people that were sitting in the companion sits and in the second show that we went to we saw a number of other guests in wheel chairs come and go as they was no where available for their carer to sit. Again the staff seemed uninterested in helping the situation.
We had ordered a taxi to pick us up at the boat and were disappointed that it did not arrive, however there are plentiful taxis available at the port to take you where you want to go. An advantage of using these official cabs is that the fares are fixed (50 euros to Bruges).
The lady that drove the taxi was fantastic, helping my wife in and out of the car and delivering us to the very centre of Bruges and picking us up from the same spot exactly when we asked her to later in the day.
Bruges itself is a beautiful city with lots of little shops to look at, although with all the cobble stones it is not the best place for wheel chairs, but the shops and restaurants were very obliging to helping us get my Wife to tables and around the tiny shops.
We had a lunch in the main square at 'De Beurze' and found the food to be exceptional with very reasonable prices.
Cherbourg is a pretty little port, that is undergoing a significant amount of work and we enjoyed the morning walking around the towns streets and stopping for coffee on the front.
Getting on and off the boat in both locations was very well organised and we received assistance with the wheel chair in both ports. No real waiting was evident in either port, although we always waited about an hour after docking to avoid the main rush.
In summary we really enjoyed out short stay on board and would be happy to take another cruise with Cunard. The only caveat to this would be that I would not take my children, as although there is a kids club, the few children on the trip did look bored most of the time.
The trip represented good value for money and was relaxed and enjoyable at all times. I have reviewed the cabin separately.