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5 Cunard Europe - Black Sea Cruise Reviews

Queen Victoria. Venice to Istanbul Sept/October 2015 Specifications Launched: 2007 Dec Refurbished: 2011, 2015 GRT: 90,000 Length: 964 ft. Draft: 26 ft. Speed: 24 Knots Passengers: 1,990 Berlitz Cruising and ... Read More
Queen Victoria. Venice to Istanbul Sept/October 2015 Specifications Launched: 2007 Dec Refurbished: 2011, 2015 GRT: 90,000 Length: 964 ft. Draft: 26 ft. Speed: 24 Knots Passengers: 1,990 Berlitz Cruising and Cruise ship Guide 2015, rates Queen Victoria No 5 Harvey World Travel-Bruce Blacklock, Wellington helped/arranged much of the travel plan. Hi. I am a regular cruiser, principally on Princess and Celebrity Lines, but on this occasion tried Cunard, Queen Victoria, Venice to Istanbul, 14 nights. We flew Emirates economy to Dubai via Sydney (19 hours and a 2 night stopover IBIS Mall of the Emirates -pleasant), Dubai to Venice (5 hours). Water Taxi to the lovely Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel, Venice (Highly recommended 3 nights) and then the cruise, flying home to Auckland from Istanbul via Dubai again. We are “short dosage cruisers”, primarily go for the ship and enjoy sea days, and ports of call, the odd bus tour etc., and also walks around the port/town e.g. Rhodes, Mykonos SUMMARY Queen Victoria a superb ship, overall the best we have experienced, Celebrity Solstice goes close but different styles. The formal approach adopted re dress standards after 6pm every evening, is not us, but it appears to have assisted maintaining elegance and standards. The Britannia dining room was elegant with superb service, the 12 Royal Cunard and dancers and 4 singers produced Cabaret style shows with a difference, and entertainment from evening. Piano or String quartets, to formal dance lessons were all done with a touch of class. Quality experience and while the ship was full, queues were never an issue; the ship appeared to have so much space, the library and many lounges all conducive to relaxed elegance, dining facilities and options always available with virtually no wait. A highlight was observing from 500 meters offshore-Gallipoli, the three large monuments and the cliff scale was awesome.   JOINING THE QUEEN VICTORIA We took a water taxi from our Hotel to the docks. There was a 500 metre walk or shuttle bus option to the Queen Victoria. Our ticket said board at 3pm, but we got there at 12.30 and no problem getting on. Queue was light. Straightforward entry. One enters straight into the Grand Lobby. This is a spectacular central area, extending over 3 decks, and reminiscent of a film set of the impressive staircases of the old Ocean Liners. Our room was on Floor 1, Cabin 1088 a deluxe standard interior, loved the location. Queen Victoria is simple to find ones way around, she has just three sets of lifts and stairs, labelled A, B and C. The rooms are numbered as if in a traditional hotel, with cabins on Decks 1, 4,5,6,7, and 8. Deck A, with the medical centre, is below Deck 1, and then the decks continue upwards until the highest cabins on Deck 8 and the public areas on Decks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11. Main Dining room Floor 2/3, Buffet Level 9, Gym etc. on 9 also CABIN STATEROOM Our Cabin 1088 was one of the cheaper cabin options, but we loved the location and the roominess. Being a Deluxe inside cabin, a settee is included, a great addition to the normal 156 sq. feet of a standard interior cabin., and comprises twin beds which are convertible to a king size, two bedside drawers, desk and chair with fridge and drawer, small table and the settee. There is a nice fridge, safe and we fund ample wardroom space and place to put our luggage. Flat screen TV. The bathroom was small but functional and the shower pressure excellent. We found the quality of air conditioning excellent, but you could not turn it off, only adjust temperature. Normally we find the air conditioning is marginal, but not on the Queen Victoria RESTAURANTS BRITANNIA RESTAURANT: We were allocated Table 700, a table for 2 on the second level, the first time in over 20 cruises that our pre cruise request was accepted, and we did not have to hassle the Maître a de, re table allocation. We prefer dining alone in the evening, and those tables for 2 are hard to obtain. I understand Cunard adopts the practice of allocating table requests based on booking date, and that seems fair. Many of course like sharing a table with 4/6/10 persons, but we prefer evening dining on our own. The main Dining Room, the Britannia Restaurant, seating 878 guests is one of the most remarkable rooms at sea, spanning two desks at the stern on Decks 2 and 3 at Stairway C. It evokes memories of classic ocean liner restaurants with sweeping staircases and art deco pillars and arches. The design was inspired by the dining car of the Golden Arrow train that linked London to Paris. The restaurant's Art Deco design is captured in its original artwork, wall scenes, and a combination of authentic finishes including polished wood, bronze, mirror and gold leaf. The room's focal point, an illuminated world globe 10 feet tall, is a sizeable yet elegant reference to Cunard's rich history plying the world's oceans. The service was impeccable and the quality of food excellent. I took a top NZ Pinot to try; this approach copped a US$20 corkage charge-standard across most cruise lines. The wine list available was excellent. VERANDAH FRENCH RESTAURANT: This alternative Restaurant has a French flair, and looked enticing. Surcharge was $15USApp at lunch and $25 pp at night. We did not utilise on this trip, but comments from other passengers were favorable. THE LIDO is an airy self-service buffet restaurant which extends between Staircases B and C across Deck 9. It is open 24 hours, serving breakfast from 0400, followed by lunch from 1130, then afternoon snacks, dinner from 1800 until 2300 and finally evening snacks until breakfast begins. At breakfast there is the usual cereals, fruit including an endless supply of strawberries and fresh pineapple, cold meats and cheese and traditional cooked breakfast with omelettes cooked to order. Overall the Lido is very good and we often choose to eat lunch there; the variety is good and being self-service it is quick on the days in port. It was always possible to find a seat. THE GOLDEN LION PUB on Deck 2 also does food. It is styled as a typical British pub with classic pub grub: fish and chips, chicken korma, steak and ale pie etc. Also shows live sport. Thoroughly enjoyed the fish and chips ROYAL COURT THEATRE The theatre is where all the lectures, films and many of the demonstrations take place as well as the shows in the evening. It is very large, with capacity for over 800 people. The gallery and the two rows of private boxes on each side, 16 in all, give the impression of a nice traditional theatre on shore. Most of the private boxes are for two although there are some for four. Imposing THE PRODUCTION SHOWS AND THE PRIVATE THEATRE BOXES The Royal Cunard Singers (4) and Dancers (12) were by a clear margin the best we have ever experienced. The shows were different to the standard Dance and Cabaret style of other cruises, and Queen Victoria has moved production shows to a new level. I went to everyone offered, both early and late a total of 8 shows. Great!!!! Along with this a range of performers highlighted the evening entertainment, all of excellent standard. A male quartet (Troubadours) a solo flute player of European repute, and the usual array of singer/dancers/comedians were each of the highest quality COOKERY DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE ROYAL COURT THEATRE Cookery demonstrations, lectures by reputable academics have always been a popular feature of Cunard cruises and Queen Victoria was no exception, the lobby area on ground floor also utilised for this. THE QUEEN'S ROOM Afternoon tea is served in the Queen's Room, and this is the typical Cunard White Star and white gloved service. During the day the room is used for a variety of activities. On our cruise there were fencing classes, lunchtime concerts, dancing classes and Bingo. In the evening there is an orchestra for dancing, and it is lively and busy on the special themed evenings. THE WINTER GARDEN AND LIDO AREA The Winter Garden is between the Lido restaurant and the Deck 9 pool area and has a roof which can be opened in good weather and has a lot of very comfortable seats and tinted picture windows the whole length on both sides. This is an impressive area, a very interesting feature of the Queen Victoria POOLS/SPA There are two outdoor pools and the other is aft of the Lido restaurant, also on 9 Deck. Ample deck space for sunbathing and sitting. CLASSICAL CONCERTS AND RECITALS There are a number of locations round the Queen Victoria where there is classical and light entertainment, often in the background. Queen Victoria has at least 3 grand pianos and lots of musicians. Grab a book and listen to music is very relaxing. LIBRARY I always read a couple of books on a voyage. On Queen Victoria the library is complemented by a bookshop. The library is a pretty two storey copy of a private library from Victorian days, with a spiral internal staircase both the bookshop and the library are organised by Ocean Books, who also set up the QE2. INTERNET AND WIFI Internet access is very good on the Queen Victoria, simple to set up, fast and reliable in the areas of the world we reached on this trip. There are twenty computers available in the Internet Centre and there is also Wi-Fi available over most of the ship. Personally we go on vacation to get away from the routines of home, and avoid e-mail and phone communications unless an emergency but observation would suggest we are a dwindling minority. Package costs for internet use are available and reduce costs GYM We are Gym users on a regular daily basis. The Queen Victoria Gym was well equipped, functional and pleasant to use. The incessant volume of noise we experienced on a recent Celebrity Solstice voyage did not occur. What a relief, music was principally background and a wide range It is right at the front of the ship and there is a special magic in watch dolphins playing, the sun rising or a port approach as you are working on the cross trainer or treadmills before breakfast of fresh fruit in the Lido. LAUNDRY From the sublime to the essential. There are five self-service passenger laundry rooms, near cabins 4068, 5070, 6068, 7042 and 8060. Between them there are 14 standard Maytag machines and tumble driers, and each has one iron and ironing board. The laundries are open from 0730 to 2100. Laundries can be noisy, so it is best not to have a cabin opposite. Much to our surprise and pleasure use is free, and detergent powder is provided. ITINERARY • Sat 26 Sep, Board Queen Victoria • Sun 27 Sep, Zadar, Croatia • Mon 28 Sep, Dubrovnik, Croatia • Tue 29 Sep, At Sea • Wed 30 Sep, Mykonos, Greece • Thu 01 Oct, Rhodes, Greece • Fri 02 Oct, Izmir, Turkey • Sat 03 Oct, Istanbul, Turkey (Overnight) • Sun 04 Oct, Istanbul, Turkey • Mon 05 Oct, At Sea • Tues 06 Oct, Marmaris, Turkey • Wed 07 Oct, Heraklion, Greece • Thu 08 Oct, Athens (Piraeus), Greece • Friday 09 Oct, Cruise the Dardanelle’s-see Gallipoli • Saturday 10 Oct, Istanbul Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I must first say that we enjoyed the Cruise. The Queen Victoria is a fine, comfortable ship, and our cabin was excellent. However there were so many irritations, some of them avoidable, that we will think twice before going with Cunard ... Read More
I must first say that we enjoyed the Cruise. The Queen Victoria is a fine, comfortable ship, and our cabin was excellent. However there were so many irritations, some of them avoidable, that we will think twice before going with Cunard again. The primary complaint was the price of everything on board. The cheapest wine at dinner was $30 + 15% service charge (all drinks attract a service charge of 15%) . Photographs taken by the ever hopeful ship photographers were $24.95 each. A tour of the ship was on offer at $120. To join a wine tasting was about $50. I don't know why Cunard charge these silly prices, it just puts people off, and there were a lot of unclaimed photographs at the end of the cruise. We probably spent less than we would have if the prices had been reasonable. Entertainment was we thought of a high quality, but often spoiled by being over-amplified. The theatre is excellent. However the timing of some of the daily events was strange - there were often 3 talks in the morning and none in the afternoon. Cinema shows started about 1230 when people were having lunch. One of the problems of the ship is that it has only one theatre. Other functions have to take place in the Queen's Room, which is not an enclosed space. It was not therefore a good place for the Piano Recitals given there, as there were stewards and passengers moving along the passageways, and the noise of the air conditioning almost drowned out the performers. Also the seats are badly arranged for that type of event, and for the cinema which was held there. The penny pinching extended even to the Passenger Choir for which no music was provided - even the pianist had to play by ear. The food we found was mostly pretty good, not though as good as we had with Fred Olsen on Braemar a few years ago. Service was sometimes a bit slow. We enjoyed our trips though they are expensive. We were disappointed at the lack of shuttles - particularly in Istanbul where there was quite a walk to the centre. The ambience of the ship is supposed to be traditionally British. If that is so then it seems odd to have everything priced in dollars. Nor were the entertainments staff particularly British in attitude - everything was hyped to the maximum degree, and a bit of British restraint would have been refreshing. Incidentally the Captain (Commodore) was a perfect gentleman! Despite the above we did enjoy the holiday, but much preferred the Aurora on which we travelled round the world a few years ago. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Stayed in the Meon Valley Marriott the night before good quality hotel and a good deal including parking for the duration of the cruise and efficient inclusive transfers to terminal. I called this review very English because the vast ... Read More
Stayed in the Meon Valley Marriott the night before good quality hotel and a good deal including parking for the duration of the cruise and efficient inclusive transfers to terminal. I called this review very English because the vast majority of the passengers were English predominantly in the age range 60 plus. The atmosphere and the ethos of the ship was very English although all prices were in dollars on board. Ship The overall ship was clean and well maintained although there was the odd bucket collecting leaks from I assume the air conditioning system. Furnishings and decor although reserved in a English way was high quality and comfortable. It was great that films were shown in the ballroom or the theatre so there were no shortage of seats. Food Food was excellent and the waiting staff friendly and accomodating. My wife has an onion allergy relating to migraines and food was especially prepared for her with her making menu choices the day before. The Lido being the self service was a bit of a scrum to find tables at busy times but you always had the restaurant as an alternative. The Verandah as one of the alternative eating options was excellent and well worth the supplement although was often quite empty. Unsure if is Carnivals influence but they were charging a $10 dollar supplement to eat outside at the back of the boat for bistro food and $14 to eat in the Lido waiter service on themed nights. Neither gave additionality against the restraurant and was counter to the spirit of the ship. Its in the same spirit as charging a $55 supplement to sit in one of the boxes when the singers and dances were performing you get champagne and nibbles and a photo just seemed counter to the culture of the ship. Room service was good and breakfast came in the time span requested. Entertainment If you like ballroom dancing the Victoria is the ship for you. The ballroom was a good size and the band and vocalist a very high standard. The band Synergy for more pop type music should be re booked they were great. The concert pianists were superb. The quartet and harpist gave lovely background presentations around the ship. The theatre massive and the singers and dancers put their all into it but sometimes they were not polished in final performance and some the shows could have better written. In some of the shows there was to much "Land of Hope and Glory" and its a pity they have not moved on from this. The speakers were good but they all seemed to be on the cruise ship merry go round with little really fresh speakers coming through. The ships choir were very good every congratulation to the entertainment team. I was unclear why they had instrumentalists in the theatre programme the ships musicians could have matched anyone. Also there was great jazz. Ports trips. We went on about five organised trips and they were all value for money and the guides were good. The organised trips were good if it was your first time in the port. What annoyed me immensely was the lack of complimentary shuttle buses into the nearest town. There were three ports that needed such a service. In Lisbon due to passenger pressure one was laid on for which a charge was imposed. In Istanbul we were there for two days it was a forty minute walk into the centre and I had to pick up one passenger when they fell and saw another fall. It was a rough surface. There is a large group who do not want to pay for a trip and do not trust or fear local transport. This is a stupid cost cutting exercise and Cunard/Carnival should be ashamed. I wrote two written complaints and received no explanation. This was not in accord with the quality service received in other aspects of the trip. The Commodore made some good decisions about coming into port early re weather etc and gave overall a relaxed atmosphere on the ship wandering around talking to passengers. Disembarkation A complete shambles the manager controller let of to many groups at the same time. The approach was jammed with passengers coming from different directions therefore you were feeling that passegers were pushing in. As I said a shambles pity because its the last imprint you have of the ship. Summary A wonderful high quality holiday Cunard you will lose this overall imprint if Carnival or others make budget reductions on service or try and introduce additional fees for what should be standard service.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Background: Traveled on a non-stop British Airways flight from San Diego. Used "Smiths for Airports" car service for transportation to/from Heathrow airport to Southampton. They were excellent and a great value. Spent one night ... Read More
Background: Traveled on a non-stop British Airways flight from San Diego. Used "Smiths for Airports" car service for transportation to/from Heathrow airport to Southampton. They were excellent and a great value. Spent one night at the West Quay Premier Inn. Nice room next to fun mall. Took taxi to port. Cabin #8132: Wonderful! Peaceful decor, comfy beds, very clean and plenty of storage space. Nice balcony too. Dining: I liked being able to get tea, orange and cranberry juice at all times in the lido. The bread/rolls were also good. Room service breakfasts were excellent and timely. The Golden Lion pub lunch menu was tasty. The dining room service was slow and the menu items just okay. I much preferred the dinner menus, selection and taste on the Holland America line. Soups, sauces and salad dressings were very bland. Shore Excursions: Took many ship sponsored tours and they were all fantastic. Well organized with knowledgeable guides. Entertainment: Music around the ship was beautiful. Night time shows were just so-so. Comedian was funny, but wish humor was cleaner. Quiz staff was polite, but lacked a bit of warmth. Enjoyed the Christmas carol singing and gingerbread houses. Disembarkation: Handled smoothly. Summary: Queen Elizabeth is a lovely and elegant ship. Very pleased overall with my Cunard experience.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just back from 12 nights on the Adriatic and Black sea. Firstly the ship is beautiful very elegant in an art décor style. . The staff excellent always smiling and helpful, nothing too much trouble. We were on deck 4 outside partly blocked ... Read More
Just back from 12 nights on the Adriatic and Black sea. Firstly the ship is beautiful very elegant in an art décor style. . The staff excellent always smiling and helpful, nothing too much trouble. We were on deck 4 outside partly blocked as we were between lifeboats so could see a little. Our fellow travellers were in cabins totally blocked by the life boats and found them very dark, and not happy with them. ( but I am not sure if I would book another cabin with view blocked). Though cabin steward was wonderful and the cabin very comfortable. We found the whole ship spacious and it never felt overcrowded even on sea days on deck there was always spaces to sit in either the sun or shade, the best ship for comfortable sunbeds and chairs, always places and again deck crew excellent. Dining areas very good plenty of space between tables at formal dining room, and the Lido buffet very chilled and comfortable., Food a little disappointing not quite as good as I expected, choices a bit limited but we still enjoyed our meals and some evening were better than others. The Lido buffet was quite good especially for lunch and I gather the Lion pub was good for a typical English pub lunch. Our biggest complaint was the price of drinks, the cheapest wine 37 dollars with tax and other drinks expensive especially when 15% tax is added. We did have a bottle of champagne in our cabin when we arrived which was very nice, and we were allowed to bring on two bottles of champagne or wine when we first embarked. We also found that we could bring back drink when visiting a duty free port and this had to be consumed in the cabin. The entertainment was very good, special acts like the comedian and singers who were all first class, and the theatre was a good size and always seats. the casino was disappointing, as you couldn't automatically get any cash out of machine if you won, unless you put your room card in the machine and registered it with a pin number. I didn't bother to go back there after I couldn't just get my cash back after winning twenty dollars, very confusing. Formal nights are lovely and everyone is expected to wear the full works, even informal nights if using the dining room, men were expected to wear a jacket with shirt (tie optional). Woman mainly wore smart elegent, ie trousers or skirt with smart blouse or top. The Lido was a lot less formal though men had to wear long trousers etc. We left Venice and stopped at Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, a shuttle bus was provided so nice too wander but ( too crowded ), next was Izmir Turkey, easy to walk from ship and town was quite nice with plenty of shops and restuarants. Corfu town was also nice to wander around and good for shopping and visiting the fort. ( We don't usually go on organised trips so either use the shuttle bus or if there is one go on a hop on hop off bus, a very good way to see the town. Our next port of call was Yalta very nice a pretty seaside town but not a lot there, gather tours disappointing and weather was a little cooler, Odessa very cold but again quite interesting lovely churches etc to visit. We were unable to stop at Nessebar Bulgaria as the weather was quite choppy for tender boats so made our way to Instanbal but it rained all the time, we managed to see a little of the town on a bus, but again very crowded and busy. Overall a great cruise interesting stop offs, shame the weather changed. We thought the ship was really fabulous, though expensive, if you want to buy from the shops on board wait till the last evening, most things a lot cheaper. We would go on a cunard ship again as it was really lovely, but might have to save up to pay for the drinks !!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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