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Queen Victoria

Itinerary

Located on the south coast of England, Southampton served as the historic ocean liner gateway for the British Empire and the intense North Atlantic passenger trade to the U.S. and Canada. Today it is the U.K.'s - and indeed Europe's -- leading cruise port.

Best known as the homeport of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Southampton now hosts a wide variety of cruise ships in the booming European cruise market with the principal lines being Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Saga Cruises.

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In the early 1400's, Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal sent his best sailors and cartographers to examine the coast of Africa. The party got blown off course and ended up 310 miles to the west, stranded on the beach of what is now Porto Santos, one of the Madeiran islands. When they returned to Lisbon and told the prince what had happened, he immediately sent them back to colonize the island, which led to the discovery of Madeira, just 25 or so miles away to the southwest.

Much richer in natural resources and natural beauty, the island of Madeira was colonized first, primarily by agrarians from the Algarve district in Portugal; the drier, smaller, sparser Porto Santos wasn't exactly ignored, but did play second fiddle to Madeira. There are two other (uninhabited) islands in the Madeiran archipelago: Ilhas Desertas and Selvagen. But it's Madeira, and the capital city of Funchal, that have flourished in the six centuries since its discovery.

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Gran Canaria is a prime choice for the sun worshippers and water babies who flock to its abundant soft-sand beaches. Its port, Las Palmas, is the biggest city in the Canary Islands chain, and it's often visited by cruise ships. The island enjoys a spring-like climate year-round. Expect sunny days, warm water and an average annual temperature of a mild 69 degrees. Gran Canaria gets just about 10 days of rain each year.

Like most Canarian cities, Las Palmas owns a distinctly Spanish feel and a rich history (the Canary Islands are an autonomous region of Spain). Conquistadors -- attracted by palm groves and a broad bay -- founded the city in 1478, and Christopher Columbus called there during his famous voyage of 1492.

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Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is also one of the most scenically stunning islands in the world. Tenerife is about 300 kilometres from the African continent and about 1,300 kilometers from Mainland Spain. It enjoys a steady year-round, spring-like temperature with a yearly average of 23 degrees centigrade. Dominated by the gigantic outline of 12,198 ft.-high Mount Teide, this amazing volcanic island offers a wide variety of landscapes and tourist experiences.

On a visit there, you might find yourself strolling through a sleepy hillside village, breathing in a lush laurisilva forest consisting of laurel trees and ferns or making your way through the dense foliage of a banana plantation. You can crash on a sunny and golden/black sandy beach or scale a snow-capped mountain, enjoy a gentle round of golf or a fiercely fought game of tennis, shop for local handicrafts or international designer wear, go on a whale and dolphin watching trip all year round, dine the traditional tapas and famous "wrinkled potatoes" with mojo sauce or in a Michelin-starred restaurant – on this most varied of islands, the choice is yours.

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Lanzarote is the northernmost of the Canary Islands, situated just 70 miles off the coast of Africa. The island is 37 miles (60km) long and 12 miles (20 km) wide, making it the fourth largest island in the Canaries. Because it is just four degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer, it enjoys a sub-tropical climate that remains fairly stable year-round with average daytime temperatures ranging from about 21°C in January to 29°C in August. Annual rainfall is just 5.5 inches.

Lanzarote is volcanic in origin. Due to eruptions during the 18th and 19th centuries, many parts of the island appear to be from another world, often described as "lunar" or "Martian," so much so that parts of the 1970's science fiction series Planet of the Apes was shot on the island. The dry climate and lack of erosion means that the volcanic landscape appears much as it did just after the eruptions; the local tourist industry capitalizes on this fact.

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The gateway to Galicia, situated on the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, is known locally by its Galician name: A Coruna. Built on an ancient Celtic hill fort, much of this compact Spanish city is manageable on foot. Brimming with history, tradition and splendid architecture, it features a wealth of open spaces, parks and pristine beaches. Residents take pride in their Celtic heritage, and cherish the survival of Galego, their language.

The miradores (glass-fronted balconies) of the tall apartment buildings overlooking the harbor in the Avenida de la Marina are distinctive features of this handsome yet gritty place. Residents can admire the views while helping to protect against the strong winds that sweep in from the Atlantic Ocean. This led to the town being called the Crystal City.

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Located on the south coast of England, Southampton served as the historic ocean liner gateway for the British Empire and the intense North Atlantic passenger trade to the U.S. and Canada. Today it is the U.K.'s - and indeed Europe's -- leading cruise port.

Best known as the homeport of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Southampton now hosts a wide variety of cruise ships in the booming European cruise market with the principal lines being Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Saga Cruises.

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Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.0
460 reviews
Why Choose Queen Victoria?

Pro

Stylish and sophisticated, offering world-wide itineraries

Con

Passengers who don't like to dress up will feel out of place

Bottom line

Queen Victoria is more traditional and formal than most ships, with an elegant atmosphere

Queen Victoria Overview

Queen Victoria enjoyed a $40 million refurbishment in 2017, which involved slicing off the back of the ship to add 43 new cabins, and, in the process, increasing the size of the aft pool deck. The month-long refurb also saw the addition of a new dining room, a new specialist café and significant refurbishments to five Penthouse Suites and four Grand Suites. As a result, passenger numbers have increased to 2,081 (from 1,988). It re-entered service on June 4, 2017.

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 programs 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 color 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 center 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 paneling contrasts with green marble and gold and white stone textures. The centerpiece 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 travelers 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.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: December 2017
We have cruised with P & O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Fred Olson and Thomson and this was our 8th cruise and as Cunard are regarded as the number one in the cruise ship ratings we were looking forward to our 5 night New Years Cruise ... Read More
We have cruised with P & O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Fred Olson and Thomson and this was our 8th cruise and as Cunard are regarded as the number one in the cruise ship ratings we were looking forward to our 5 night New Years Cruise to Bruge, Amsterdam and Cherbourg. We had just checked into our cabin when a tannoy announcement from the Commodore of the ship informed us we wouldn't be visiting Bruge after all and we would head straight to Amsterdam to ensure we were in Amsterdam for New Years eve instead of cruising out of Amsterdam at 1.00am on New Years day we didn't actually cruise out of port until 9.00am which meant we lost some of the New Year spirit. No compensation was offered for the change in itinerary and with the currency charges the cancelled trips ended up costing us extra money as the extra commission transaction charges were not taken into account to transfer back from dollars to sterling. On a positive note the fireworks in Amsterdam port were fantastic and worth the trip up to the outside desks to get the best panoramic view. Our cabin was off a good standard (7059) and was cleaned and serviced to a high standard. We had a small problem with the noise of the air conditioning unit but our room attendant reported this and it was fixed on day 2 of our cruise. Food and service for dinner in the main restaurant was poor, menus were not particularly adventurous and certainly were not matched to the countries we were visiting as per the suggestions in the Cunard brochure and off a much lower standard that other cruise ships we have travelled on before. Service was rushed at dinner and staff whilst not unpleasant did not seem to want to be there serving us. There appeared to be a lack of supervision in the restaurant at dinner, not once were we asked if food etc was ok and a few people at our table left their main courses due to poor quality of meat etc. Service and food at breakfast and lunch was so much better. The service and food in the Lido was of a very good standard and room service was also good. We had afternoon tea on 2 afternoons in the Queens Room which was very nice and well organised. The general bar areas on the ship are small for the number of people on board and we were unable to get seating for a pre-dinner cocktail etc during our 5 night stay, we visited the pub on a couple of occasions but service at the bar was very curt and slow, again no supervision of staff was apparent. There is only 1 theatre on board the ship, evening entertainment was good, however the general daytime activities schedule was the same each day and a bit boring and was more suited to the over 70's rather than the majority of passengers who were in the 40 to 60 age range. We were disappointed to find that the wine tasting was also cancelled with no reason given. We didn't get to see the Commodore or Captain during our cruise and they didn't appear at the New Year countdown which was also disappointing, they kept a very low profile throughout the cruise apart from hearing them on the tannoy announcements. We spoke with many people who advised us to give Cunard another try but perhaps opt for the Queen Mary next time, they were also disappointed with this cruise and the standard of service and said it wasn't the normal standard provided by Cunard. On our arrival back into Southampton we were unable to dock back at the original berth but coaches were provided to take us back to where we should have been docked to enable us to pick up our car. A disappointing cruise overall and not as enjoyable as the cruise we did previously with P & O at New Year in 2015. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This was the first time for us to take a New Year cruise. We had high expectations and have cruised Cunard more than 10 times. The ship had been remodelled since our last cruise (Oct 16) and was looking swell. We knew that it would be cold ... Read More
This was the first time for us to take a New Year cruise. We had high expectations and have cruised Cunard more than 10 times. The ship had been remodelled since our last cruise (Oct 16) and was looking swell. We knew that it would be cold and the weather would be changeable but we caught the storm Eileen in full flow. I thought that the portions in the Britannia dining room were definitely smaller than before. The waiting staff were under pressure and told us that the galleys were in chaos and that there would be a longer wait for our main courses on each evening. We had booked 2 inside cabins deck 7 and they were in good condition. Normally book balcony cabins but thought that the weather wouldn't be fair so saved the money for next time. This cruise was twice the price of the same cruise that left earlier in December. Good party atmosphere, ship decorated for Christmas. The drink prices are extortionate probably 3 times higher than a local up market bar. With prices for a large one with mixer around $13. White wine around $8 for a small glass. Overpriced wine and fizz because Cunard know that they have a captive audience. Free toast fizz at 12 midnight on the 31st. Missed out on a port so that the ship could get to Amsterdam on time. Storm Eileen meant force 10 winds and high seas but the ship coped well with this and we arrived back to Southampton on time. ( Wrong terminal but Cunard had shuttle buses back so that we could collect our car. Will probably book again soon for next year but a summer cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This was our 6th cruise on the QV and the 2nd New Year trip to Amsterdam. We travelled down to Southampton on the 28th Dec and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express just off the motorway and Ideally suited to get to the West Quay shopping ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise on the QV and the 2nd New Year trip to Amsterdam. We travelled down to Southampton on the 28th Dec and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express just off the motorway and Ideally suited to get to the West Quay shopping centre for a bit of retail therapy before embarking the ship. We were pleased to see the ship berthed at Ocean Terminal. We arrived at noon and were processed fairly rapidly but had to wait again to go through security as the ship wasn’t ready to take on passengers. The wait wasn’t too long though - our cabin, Deck 1 outside midships was ready and waiting for us. We dumped our stuff and went to the lido for lunch before it got busy - the ship was full and the Lido the only place to eat if you are not in Grills. The ship was still decked out in its Christmas Finery and looked fantastic. This was our first time back on the QV since her refit. The new wall mounted flat screen TVs are a great improvement. And at last Cunard have put in tea and coffee making facilities in the cabins. Hemispheres is now the Yatch Club and Britannia Club dining is now available for those who want to pay the extra. She does look a little drab in parts though - but not in the main passenger areas. Before we left S’ton, and just after muster stations, Commodore Rynd announced that due to the high winds and sea state we would not be going to Bruge but heading straight to Amsterdam to up our chances of getting into Ijmuiden and the North Sea Canal. This turned out to be a good call. There was a force 8 blowing for most of the journey over to Amsterdam. The QV proved to be very steady given the weather conditions. This gave us an extra sea day to relax. Very welcome after a busy Christmas. We were disappointed not to visit Bruge but I have visited Bruge on a number of occasions inc a long weekend (which I would recommend to give it justice). We took the opportunity to lunch in the Verandah Restaurant. It costs $20 but we think it’s worth it. It was already fully booked up for Dinner throughout the trip. I attended one of the guest speaker presentations - it was OK. It was interesting to hear a barrister talk and how Programmes such as Judge John Deeds give such a false impression of how the law works. We arrived in Holland about 9pm ships time (the QV stays at GMT throughout the trip). It takes about 3 hrs to get through the lock and North Sea Canal into Amsterdam - but lovely calm waters. On New Years Eve We breakfasted in the Britannia Restaurant where we took most of our meals. We then set out for the railway station that is a short walk away from where the ship berthed. We decided to visit Delft as it was a miserable day weather wise and we have “done” Amsterdam on numerous occasions before. There are regular trains to Delft, a lovely little city famous for its pottery and the home of one of the Dutch masters Vermeer. It takes about an hour to get to Delft and cost €26 return each. The journey takes you to the Hook of Holland. You really get a sense of how low lying Holland is and how vulnerable to the North Sea. The Vermeer exhibition is worth a visit if you are interested in how Vermeer worked with light and texture. We arrived back on the ship at 5 ish. Grabbed a scone or two from the Lido and relaxed with a drink before getting ready for New Year’s Eve Celebrations. The QV is much more a party ship on the 5 day trips. The average passenger age must drop by a half. I think there were more people from Japan, Germany and the USA than I remembered from the trip we did 2 yrs before. Everyone I saw was glammed up and the ship and it’s occupants looked fantastic. There was lots going on all over the ship. We watched the Dutch New Year fireworks at 11pm ships time. The Dutch had been letting off fireworks throughout the day and it really goes ballistic at midnight with displays taking place everywhere you look. This time there was literally our own display just off the bow of the ship - amazing. Luckily it had stopped raining too so there was many of us out on deck watching the show with lots of oohs and wows. We then celebrated GMT New Year with the Commodore and ships company in the Atrium and a Champagne Waterfall followed by a boogie in the Yacht Club. We left Amsterdam at 9am on New Year’s Day. This was the first time we had traversed the North Sea Canal in day light and was quite interesting. We ate in the Verandah restaurant again and had a fantastic view of the scenery and lock. We were heading for Cherbourg so effectively another sea day and another very relaxing day - busy doing nothing. We went to the show Hollywood Rocks that we enjoyed. The standard of singers and musicians throughout the ship is fantastic. It’s what sets Cunard apart for us though on a completely different level Thomson/Marella’s Entertainment teams are also second to none. The weather in Cherbourg was dismally wet and windy - but this is winter in the North Sea and Channel so our expectations were not high. We wandered the town, bought wine in Carrefour and returned to the ship. We were told by the Commodore that the weather would be very poor - storm force 10 with 9m waves. He would hug the French coast till 10.30 pm then make “a run for it” my words not his, The winds would be hitting us broadside so to expect some sudden movement and keep fingers away from doors! And so it proved. The QV handled the storm very well. We had chosen midships and deck 1 as it’s the most stable part of the ship and apart from the odd bump it was not an uncomfortable night although the noise of the waves hitting the ship was quite loud - the downside of being so low. However we did suddenly list to the left and kept listing for quite a long time before gradually righting. It certainly sent things flying off shelves - a reminder that we are not in a state hotel. We learnt next day we had a 7 degree list. The high winds in Southampton also meant we were unable to dock at the Ocean terminal where our car was - coaches therefore would ferry us back to ocean terminal. Disembarkation was reasonably straight forward though having to wait for coaches delayed our journey home by an hour but at least we were all safe and sound. A very enjoyable trip. In general. The cabin was well looked after by our steward, the food and choices were excellent, we only saw one show and that was very good. It was reasonable value for money. I would recommend the Verandah lunch if you are Britannia Class Cunard’s drink prices are getting very steep and worse for us sterling using Brits - the service charge on drinks is an American habit that is not necessary. A free glass of bubbly at midnight would have been graciously accepted especially as Cunard changed its World Club criteria from 5 + night’s to 6+ night’s just before the 5 day cruises took place - so World Club members didn’t get a cocktail party and us platinum members didn’t get a wine tasting or priority embarkation. We didn’t take any excursions as happy to do it ourselves. Would we do it again - there are other places to celebrate New Year we’ve yet to try. Read Less