Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011.
This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen because of Cunard's brochure hype about dancing. I therefore applied high standards to the dance environment on the ship. I was able to obtain information from passengers who had been on the previous Hawaii cruise, and also from experienced Cunarders, to verify my observations.
Music and Dancing.
The Queens Room is a large, two-deck high area supposedly based on one of Queen Victoria's residences The extra height, opening into the next deck, seems to help air circulation when full. The dance floor is about 25' x 50'. It is the most attractive ballroom I have seen on a ship.
Hemispheres is located on Deck 10, behind the Commodore Club. Although much small than the Queens Room, is is also an attractive dance venue. The dance floor is large enough for Latin but unfortunately, the floor while wooden, includes a metal inlay. As one might expect, the metal and wood are shrinking at different rates, resulting is some rather uncomfortable raised edges.
The following is the text of a letter sent to Cunard regarding the music.
I was recently on Queen Victoria V105, Ensenada. I chose this trip over Cunard's competitors (notably, Cunard's sister line Costa) based on the promise of good music and dancing.
I am pleased to report the recorded music played between band sets was excellent. While the DJ was not a dancer and did not always get the mix quite right, it was among the best I have ever heard on a ship. Whoever is responsible deserves a good bonus.
However, I am being generous to say the Queens Room Orchestra was a disappointment. What music was within British Dance Council tempo ranges, was often by accident, something else having been announced. The noise emanating from the wind section was inexplicable. Several bars into the music, one of the horns would start inane tootling, totally out of sync with the tempo. Almost all of the complaints I heard about off-tempo music actually originated there. Even experienced dancers found it difficult to follow, the drummer not being very strong either. The Orchestra also had the usual problem of playing on and on; one passenger timed an already too-fast cha-cha at 7 minutes.
As a Carnival shareholder, I question what cost/benefit calculation is being done, to justify such mediocre music. I was told that voyage V104, passengers walked out in disgust, leaving the band to play to an empty room. I understand some easy-listening, non-dance music is required, but what is the demand for "bossas" and "shuffles", whatever they are?
The band Changez was capable of decent Latin rhythms, even some nice ballroom, when they tried, although they often slipped into Caribbean-y mishmash for 20 or 30 minutes at a time.
I like many things about the Queen Victoria, but with such unreliable music, I cannot recommend it to any of the dance groups I travel with.
The Commodore Club is not a dance venue, although it is one of the most attractive lounges at sea.
The menu and portion sizes are geared to British tastes. I was very satisfied with the food, but there were just a few too many not-quite-right issues to warrant an unqualified 5.
Pub lunch is available in the Golden Lion, and is very popular.
Cunard operates a three-class system. Each class has its own restaurant. Queens Grill and Princess Grill are open seating, Britannia is fixed dining. The Grills also have a (small) reserved lounge and deck area. Otherwise, the ship is open to all.
I was traveling in Britannia class. I found my cabin to be nearly identical to most others I have traveled in, one notable item being a shortage of shelves in the bathroom.
Dress Code- When Cunard says formal, they mean it: tuxedo, or a dark suit. Jackets required every night in the restaurant (not the buffet). For a short, US West Coast sailing, the dress code was well respected, I saw only one t-shirt/blue jeans. This is apparently better than a UK Bank Holiday cruise.
Activities- As this was a very short cruise, only a few activities were scheduled. There were no Captain's receptions.
Value For Money- Average, with the proviso that the live music did not live up to the brochure hype. For me, that meant the cruise was not worthwhile.