We did the Panama Explorer voyage on Queen Victoria.The past few trips we've done the Grills. Our T/A booked us a "wheelchair room. It was larger than a Princess suite. We were offered a P-2 suite. It was not a free upgrade. On checking the P-suite..It was more luxurious(as it should be)but smaller in size. The fact that the shower head was on a cord(in the wheelchair room) was a nice feature as well. I didn't expect the same service or quality, but still got a very good vacation. First off this ship is what I call the 65% ship. I mean that in comparing it to the QM2, which is what we've travelled on in the past.
This ship is a "Vista" class cruise ship. It definitely tosses about in even rather minor seas.The interior is tastefully done in "Edwardian" style. There is much tasteful use of wood(veneers,& trim, mostly)and a nice amount of nice quality granite. It was more of a luxurious feel than most of the QM2. The carpets, however were a bit of a letdown, as they didn't have that rich feel of QM2.Overall, the ship is very easy to get around. No real crowding, even though it was full.
Now for the food...The Lido had pretty good quality, better than Kings Court. Only real issue, is that folks enter from both sides & it can really jam up. This is an easy fix.At night the Lido(on one side)converts to Bamboo(Asian)Coriander(Indian)& Prime(American/Fusion)It goes for 3 nights as each mentioned restaurant. There is a $10 fee. The food here was easily better than Britannia.The night in Bamboo was, in my opinion our best meal aboard.
Britannia(first seating)Food was generally good to at times bordering on excellent. The Salmon was outstanding.There were 2 nights that weren't as good..one was when the pork loin was rather tough(still good flavor)The other was the celebrated "Top dinner night", when the chefs do their(I think corny)parade. I had the Lobster Thermidor. They used the inferior "Rock Lobster" from the Caribbean. In the Grills you get American/Canadian(the good stuff)The portion was minuscule, to say the least.I should have asked for 2 servings.
Entertainment..The orchestra was much smaller & less quality than QM2. Shows were OK, but not a strong point. The singers & comedians we had seen on QM2, so they were fine. It's obvious the budgets here are less than QM2(and it shows)Lots of great dancing in the Queens Room. If you like ballroom dancing, Cunard is the way to go!
Panama Canal: It was excellent to see this engineering marvel.We went through 3 locks. They raise you up about 90 feet to Lake Galut. We didn't stop, but cruised about the large lake. It was full of vessels going in & out.You could see off to the side the new set of locks being built for ships the size of the QM2. It should be complete in a few more years.
My only real negatives were the embarkation. They need to tell Priority members(Grill/Platinum/Diamond)that they do not have to wait in the terminal. We knew this from the last time we were here,but there's much confusion. The other issue, is the amount of Floridians(retired New Yorkers,actually)These were for the most part, a real group of totally classless people. They dressed well, but were amazingly rude.They'd cut you in line & give you the dirty look etc.Just totally rude to much of the staff. I did admonish several on their behavior.Some who know me, know I won't take this type of behavior lying down. I don't know how many times I had to apologise to staff for these ignoramuses. Our friend, Liz, who travelled with us noticed this as well & commented it was nowhere near this bad last year on QM2. It seems the "round trip" voyages from Ft. Lauderdale bring these types aboard. Money certainly can't buy class.A real shame!