Certainly no cruise experience is perfect. But traveling in a princess grill suite on board the Queen Victoria comes pretty close!
EMBARKATION: Grill members receive priority allowing for speedy access. Having cruised before (on the QM2), I was pretty confident on where to go but I could see getting a bit confused. Organized chaos. A steward directed us to the proper elevator banks and up we went!
THE ROOM: Cunard's website is pretty accurate in showing the different rooms. Grill rooms are beautifully appointed, with individual climate controls and balconies. Lots of storage. Very comfortable beds. Our mini bar was constantly re supplied and housekeeping did a marvelous job at keeping the stateroom clean whilst being unobtrusive. My two quibbles: the t.v. was pretty awful and internet access very expensive and sluggish.
THE FOOD: In the grills experience, you have your own table and can eat whenever you want within the hours in a special lounge accessible by key card. The food was scrumptious and our wait staff went out of our way to provide our favorites, even those that were off menu (lobster thermidor, crepes suzette). The sommelier was knowledgeable and introduced us to some reasonably priced wines. Dining in the grills was an absolute pleasure...we really had no desire to go anywhere else. The Lido buffet seemed very well stocked and clean. The commodore club served lovely drinks (and the view is to dye for) and we loved having a coffee at the Cafe. The bar did two excellent tastings: Veuve cliquot champagne and wine, which we attended. The golden lion pub was a bit of a let down: the food was bland and there wasn't a great cider selection. Room service seemed a bit chaotic in port call days but any issue was handled swiftly.
SERVICE: A key aspect to the grills experience is the concierge, located in the grills lounge on deck 11. We had personalized stationary made, free of charge, which was a lot of fun. Our steward made sure we had our days menus early in the morning and the next day's schedule by early evening. Our grill staff was extraordinary in the dining room.
ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were mostly variety version. Generally, cruise entertainment is pretty amateurish and this was no exception. I wish there had been more stage type shows but there was so much else to do, the entertainment seemed unimportant.
GUEST ACTIVITIES: Very reflective of the population (see below) i.e. geared towards the elderly. Very repetitive- every day was the same computer lesson. Luckily, the best time was to take out a book and find a lovely spot to relax.
SHOPPING: Lovely shops in the royal arcade and excellent, very helpful staff. We did have a problem with a ring awe bought on board and it was handled immediately and at no extra cost.
COMMON SPACES: The library is quite extraordinary as is the queen's room. We also enjoyed the casino.
PORT CALLS: Tours were very smooth, we did not wait long to embark/disembark at all. In Rome, we arrived next to a huge ship and they seemed incredibly disorganized on dock. Each port came with a lovely introductory guide and a television lecture.
POPULATION: An earlier review referred to voyage of the 'geriatric' and made me laugh. I would say 90% of the ship is elderly (walkers, wheelchairs, the works). This can make for a rather unpleasant experience in terms of waiting, passenger politeness...hence the reason for the importance of the grills where service is smooth and passenger interaction minimal. However, the various activities reflected the population.
ODDITY: Everywhere we went, a crew member held out a bottle of hand sanitizer. There were signs all over the ship and any wait times came about because you had to wait to sanitize your hands. This was another reason we were reluctant to eat anywhere else.
DISEMBARKATION: A bit more chaotic than embarkation, due to the fact that they seemed let everyone off at once rather than honoring their original by category plan.
SUMMARY: Highly recommended, though families with young children would likely pass. Imperative to splurge..it appeared regular (Britannia) passengers had quite a different experience from those in the grills, most of whom were repeat customers.