"Queen Victoria" looked an imposing ship awaiting us in Southampton Water, but we had much to learn about the much trumpeted White Star Service.
Our cabin was spacious and comfortable as was the bed. The restaurant lived up to expectations, a pleasant view from a window table for 6 and interesting company with a comprehensive menu. Afternoon tea in the Queens Room was an experience to rival most good hotels and the ship was roomy and one did not feel crowded.
However, the service had a lot to be desired. On the first breakfast most people got someone else's order and there was much sending back and plate changing. The staff for the first few days seemed tense and ill at ease, and it is the only bar ever on a ship where we have had to get up and ask the waiter to serve us, in an almost empty bar.
We did not once see our room steward, although the cabin was cleaned daily and the linen changed. Is that good or bad, I wonder? Apart from meal times the only "free" drinks were on deck 11. There was a 15% service charge added to all drinks and an extra space on the bill for "gratuities" to be added! $11 a day was deducted for tips - a reasonable amount on the face of it, but it did not stop envelopes being given out and waiters expecting an extra tip. The lovely theatre was spoilt for us by the boxes being charged at $56 a couple (albeit you got some sparkling wine and chocs for that money) but it all left one feeling "ripped off." The internet charges were the highest I had experienced on a cruise and I did not like the mobile 'phone being hooked in to Cunard's charges at £1.99 a minute.
All in all we came away feeling disappointed and uncomfortable and do not feel like cruising with Cunard again - there are some awfully good rivals around.