Queen Victoria is elegance personified. In typically understated British style, the ship doesn't do glitzy or loud, so ambience overall is modest rather than striking. Do not expect even the slightest hint of neon or glitz nor -- perish the thought -- rock climbing walls or bumper cars. Luxurious furnishings and eye-catching features lend an air of extravagance to the onboard atmosphere with muted colors and lots of dark wood. Architecture is in keeping with the ambiance of Cunard ocean liners of times past while the interior design offers the contemporary elegance of a modern luxury hotel.
Cunard cashes in on its impressive heritage, sense of occasion and somewhat old-fashioned pursuits including ballroom dancing and bridge. An outdoor Games Deck harkens back to the days of the '20s and '30s with croquet, shuffleboard, hoopla, deck quoits and paddle tennis. No hint of brashness here. Loyal followers also totally approve of the fact that the cruise line employs a stricter dress code than that followed on other mainstream lines.
Queen Victoria is almost a replica of her bigger sister Queen Elizabeth, at least as far as layout, cabins and enrichment programmes go. One difference is that the decor throughout the ship is darker Victoriana rather than Queen Elizabeth's lighter Art Deco-inspired interiors, but the public areas of the ship are every bit as splendid with an earth tone colour palette of creamy beige, chestnut brown and gold, with mahogany walls, circular hand-woven area rugs and intricately designed marble floors.
Everywhere you turn there is a treat for the eyes, from the glittering chandeliers and white gloved waiters serving scones at afternoon tea to elegant restaurants and deep, rich carpets. One of the ship's signature features is the stunning three-tier Grand Lobby with its unique artwork, sweeping staircase and sculpted balconies. With a dramatic triple-height ceiling, the -lobby serves as a majestic focal point and is the centre of onboard activity. It forms the core from which the ship's other public rooms flow. A bronzed-effect sculptural representation of the cruise ship emerging from a sun motif coordinated with a marquetry relief depicting a map of the world graces the staircase landing and is visible from nearly every part of the Grand Lobby.
The 4,000 square foot Royal Arcade on Deck 3, inspired by the Royal and Burlington Arcades in London, features a grand staircase at the forward end. Light wood panelling contrasts with green marble and gold and white stone textures. The centrepiece of this area is a custom-built, chiming pillar clock by English clockmaker Dent & Co., clockmaker to Queen Victoria and whose most famous work is Big Ben in London. The clock housing is black with gold-leaf lettering and backlit dials are opal acrylic with black Roman numerals.
However, while all of this may sound very posh, this ship is not just the preserve of the wealthy. During the day you can relax and unwind in the Royal Spa while at night there are live theatre shows, music and dancing in the bars and lounges. The ship has enough classy, small to midsize public rooms and various nooks and crannies for guests to relax, read or enjoy a drink and a chat.
A refurbishment in January 2015 saw the addition of nine single cabins while carpets, mattresses and paint work were replaced or refreshed. Eight new Internet stations were added to the upper floor of the library and awnings were installed at the back of the Lido and Upper Grill Terrace.
Like the other Cunarders, Queen Victoria operates a class system in which the cabin grade you choose dictates where you eat. This means for those who want to splash the cash, the Queens Grill and Princess Grill provide top notch accommodations and more upmarket dining options. Having said that, around 80 percent of passengers are happily ensconced in Britannia-grade cabins and dine in the stylish Britannia Restaurant.
Passengers' peace is not disturbed by multiple announcements either -- there is just one announcement a day -- at noon, by the captain, telling of the ship's progress.
As far as service goes, in the main, the overall quality is satisfactory. Most staff members are friendly though some are unresponsive while others are rather inexperienced. The majority either speak excellent English or have a good grasp of the language.
To sum up, Queen Victoria is a comfortable, graceful cruise ship best suited to couples, single travellers and mature cruisers.
For first-timer cruisers, Queen Victoria is a good choice. It isn't one of the huge cruise ships so has a more intimate, friendly feel. Also a plus point for those new-to-cruising is that they won't get lost trying to find their way around. Cruisers -- especially those who enjoy dressing up for dinner -- can expect an elegant experience on this well laid out ship.