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96 Cunard Senior Cruise Reviews

SUMMARY: We loved everything about Cunard and the Queen Victoria. The Cunard people were amazingly organized and efficient. The ship has an understated elegance with a very comfortable feel. It was easy to find our way around the ship. ... Read More
SUMMARY: We loved everything about Cunard and the Queen Victoria. The Cunard people were amazingly organized and efficient. The ship has an understated elegance with a very comfortable feel. It was easy to find our way around the ship. The elevators were never very busy or crowded. In short, everything worked. The itinerary did not disappoint. Venice and Istanbul are two indescribably interesting and beautiful cities. We could have easily spent an additional week in each city. The other ports each had their own charms but were only worth a one-day stopover. Split, Corfu, Piraeus-Athens, Kusadasi-Ephesus and Santorini were as expected. Rhodes was a pleasant surprise. BACKGROUND: My wife and I are in our mid 60s. We are physically active with no mobility problems. This was our 20Th cruise but the first with Cunard. We had been to Venice and Rome prior to this cruise but all the other ports were new to us. We like to explore on our own so we do not book ship excursions unless it is something that we can't do on our own or it is something that would take us far from the ship. On this cruise we did not book any ship excursions. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and booked it through the cruisecompete.com web site. PRE-CRUISE: As is our normal practice, we flew into Venice the day before the cruise. Since we spent the first night of the cruise on board the ship, we had two full days in Venice. Upon our arrival at Marco Polo Airport we took the Express Bus (5 Euro PP) to Piazzale Roma. From there we dragged our bags about ten minutes to Ca' San Rocco, the small hotel where we stayed for the first night. It was well located in a very quaint neighborhood. We had a high-ceiling room with a large king-size bed. The included breakfast was served on a tree shaded terrace. It was a great place for a pre-cruise stay in Venice. We spent the evening and morning before the cruise walking and riding around Venice. EMBARKATION: We dragged our bags back to Piazzale Roma where we took the "People Mover" to the cruise dock. It was about a two hundred yard walk from the station to the ship. Getting on the ship was a breeze. We were at the registration building at 11:30 AM and within an hour we were in our stateroom. By the time we came back from lunch all our bags had arrived. THE CABIN: We booked an obstructed view outside cabin on deck four. It was roomier than similar cabins we have had on other cruises. There was more than enough room for our clothes. It was well located and very quiet. We especially liked its proximity to the free laundry. The bathroom , as usual, was small and tight. Our steward was polite and unobtrusive, and kept the cabin clean and tidy. THE SHIP: The Queen Victoria has an understated elegance. It is not as tacky as a lot of the cruise ships today. We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional British ambiance. The ship is well laid out and it was easy to find our way around. There was never a long wait for an elevator, nor were they ever overcrowded. The Captain was young and brought some humor to his job. He was around the ship a lot and was always making interesting announcements. Our only complaint was that the Promenade Deck does not go all the way around the ship. THE PASSENGERS: The average age of the passengers was said to be 57 years old. I would have guessed a bit higher. Needless to say, we felt very comfortable in that demographic. Half of the passengers were British and about one fourth were from the USA. We loved interacting with the various non-USA passengers. THE FOOD: On port days we ate breakfast in the Lido Buffet, usually having either a custom-made omelet or a custom-made waffle. They were always delicious. The choices for meat, breads, fruit and beverages were excellent. On the two at-sea days we ate breakfast in the Britannia Dining Room where we had classic Eggs Benedict. The Lido Buffet was never too crowded and the service in the Britannia Dining Room was prompt and attentive. Because this was a port-intensive cruise, we almost never ate lunch on the ship. At most, we grabbed something quick from the Lido as we came back to the ship. At night we always ate in the Britannia Dining Room at the early seating. We chose to eat at a larger table with other couples. We enjoyed our dinner conversations and looked forward each night to catching up with our table mates about their activities on shore. We were always one of the last to leave the dining room. The food was as good as any we have had on a cruise ship. The service was excellent and the food was well prepared. The menu was different every night and offered more than enough choice. THE ENTERTAINMENT; We never missed any of the shows. The Royal Court Theatre is a good venue with no blocked sight-lines, comfortable stadium seating, and no drink tables. Every seat was a good seat. We usually arrived about 15 minutes before showtime, which gave us our choice of seats. The entertainment was the usual mix of song and dance productions, singers, and comedians. All the shows were worthwhile, but none were spectacular. Even though we are regular ballroom dancers, we only danced a few times in the Queens Room. The dance floor and the music were fine. We were usually too tired by the end of the evening, and we were usually back in our cabin by 10 PM. I can't comment on the gym and the spa since we didn't use it. THE WEATHER: Late September is a great time of the year to visit the Eastern Mediterranean area. The weather in each of the ports was wonderful. Not too hot and not too cold. We were comfortable walking around in just a short-sleeve shirt. We saw no rain whatsoever in any of the ports. At the Acropolis in Athens it was sunny and warm and there was a gentle breeze. Ephesus was the same way. Those were the two places where we were worried about the heat. In Istanbul and Santorini it was much cooler than we expected. In both places there were strong winds which almost required a light jacket. THE PORTS: Venice: We spent the better part of two days walking and riding around Venice. Even though we had been to Venice three years before, there was still much to see. A map, a vaparetto pass, and a good pair of walking shoes is all you need to enjoy the wonders of Venice. In fact, just meandering aimlessly around the city is all you really need to do. We enjoyed the sail away from Venice with drinks on the Promenade Deck. Split: To our surprise, we tendered in Split, but the tendering was hassle free. Once on shore, we took the "Spirit of Split" combo tour that included a 45 minute guided open top bus tour of the Split area and a 45 minute guided walking tour of Diocletian's Palace. We finished the day by walking around the medieval town next to the palace and walking along the harbor front promenade called "The Riva." Corfu: It was a short day in Corfu- 9AM - 2PM. We took a free bus from the ship to the terminal and then a free Cunard bus to the edge of Corfu's "Old Town." We spent a little time walking around the "Old Town", but spent quite a bit of time at the Old Fortress. The fortress had great views of the city, the harbors, and the beaches. It also had a quaint Romanesque church on site. Piraeus and Athens: After getting off the ship, we walked through the terminal and got on the Piraeus hop on/hop off bus. It included an English language audio guide. We toured Piraeus and got off the bus at the Acropolis. It took about a half hour to get to the Acropolis. The Acropolis provided several surprises. Since it was Sunday, there was no admission charge and the top of the Acropolis was not nearly as warm as we were expecting. There was a cooling breeze and quite a bit of shade. We spend l l/2 hours following Rick Steves' self-guided tour. What's more, the climb to the top was not as arduous as we were led to believe. We just had to be careful when walking on the slippery rocks. We did see a woman take a fall. We got back on the bus and did the full Athens tour without getting off again until we returned to the Acropolis. There really wasn't much to see. Athens is not a very attractive city. Before heading back to Piraeus we walked around the neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis where we had lunch at an authentic Greek restaurant. Kusadasi and Ephesus: A month before the cruise we booked a private tour with "Ephesus Shuttle." We chose "Ephesus Shuttle" because it was rated the #1 thing to do on Trip Advisor. Our private tour included a visit to the House of the Virgin Mary and a guided tour of the Ephesus ruins, including the Terrace Houses. A similar tour through the ship would have cost about the same but would not have included the Terrace Houses. We finished the tour with the required stop at a rug store. The sales pitch was not too aggressive and the rug making demonstration was actually quite interesting. The tour was excellent though a bit rushed. Before returning to the ship we walked around Kusadasi and had a small glass of raki. Istanbul: We watched our arrival in Istanbul in two comfy seats in the Commodore Lounge, high up in front of the ship. Like Venice, Istanbul is a great city for just walking around. There is an inexpensive tram that runs from the cruise docks right through the tourist area, but it is all very walkable. Because the ship's dock space was not available when we arrived, we were tendered off the ship. Cunard supplied a free bus to the Grand Bazaar. On the first day in Istanbul we toured the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia and spent time at the Grand Bazaar. We had a light Turkish-style dinner at an outside restaurant that was next to the tram line. Among other things, we had a blown-up pita pocket that was the size of a football. On the second day in Istanbul we visited the Topkapi Palace, the spice market, and the Underground Cistern. Rather than take the tram, we walked across the Galata Bridge back to the ship. Two days in Istanbul were enough to take in all the major sites, but we could go back and easily fill up another couple of days in Istanbul. Rhodes: Rhodes was a surprise. The town is very picturesque. The ship was docked right next to the town's fortifications. The town is a walled city filled with medieval architecture, small touristy shops, and interesting restaurants. As we walked around the town we visited the "Master's Palace" and stood at the head of the Old Harbor where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. Santorini: We were on the very first tender off the ship. There was no wait to get on the cable car to the town of Fira. We immediately headed for the bus station to take the half-hour bus ride to the town of Oia where the picture-postcard scenery is. Once in Oia we walked along the streets that follow the edge of the caldera, taking photos the entire way. The views were spectacular. The town was filled with music as there were strolling groups of musicians everywhere. Just as the town was getting crowded we headed back to Fira where we walked around a bit and had a drink overlooking the caldera with the Queen Victoria sitting in the middle. There was a short wait for the cable car back to the cruise dock. Since we were the only large cruise ship in Santorini that day the crowds were not as bad as they can be. It was an easy day in Santorini. DISEMBARKATION: We chose the Cunard provided bus transfer from the port of Civitavecchia to the Rome airport. Three years ago we ended a cruise in Civitavecchia and, on our own, took two different trains to Fiumicino Airport. The trains worked fine, but it was a little tight making our flight due to the chaos that is the Rome Airport. We left the ship at 8:30 A.M. and we were at Fiumicino Airport about an hour later. Since our flight was at 1 P.M. we had over 3 hours to spare. As was the case three years ago, we easily ate up that time checking our bags and getting through security. By the time we got to the gate, they were just starting to board the plane. We didn't have time to so much as buy a newspaper. My advice to everyone is that you have to allow a lot of time because of the inefficiency and disorganization at Fiumicino Airport. Getting there is not the problem. Being there is the problem. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My spouse and I have more than 30 cruises behind us on various lines. He had sailed Cunard before and I was really excited about my first time with Cunard. We will sail with Cunard again but perhaps with our more realistic expectations. ... Read More
My spouse and I have more than 30 cruises behind us on various lines. He had sailed Cunard before and I was really excited about my first time with Cunard. We will sail with Cunard again but perhaps with our more realistic expectations. We had just completed 20 days in the Mediterranean on another cruise line and I will be honest the cost of a QM transatlantic sail home was not much more than a flight from Rome so we flew to London and decided this was a good way to test the waters so to speak and give the QM a go. We took the train from Waterloo Station and grabbed a taxi for 8 pound to the Cunard Pier. We sat on comfy blue couches until they called our number. Staff then guide you to the next available wicket. This was probably one of the best embarkations we have had. The ship is beautiful, immaculate and elegant. The passengers were very polite and all the teens and little ones that we met were all well behaved. We had ordered an obstructed balcony (lifeboat) but it was bright and cheery and we could still get a breath of fresh air and see snippets of the sea. A complimentary bottle of champagne was waiting for us. Our steward was very, very good. I never tired of walking the main halls with the wonderful art and murals. The venues for dancing, the Queen's ball room, the theatre, the 3D cinema with the planetarium are all brilliant. The library is wonderful and the Winter garden room is charming. The entertainment was great. The dance troop was fabulous, excellent choreography and variety of numbers. In all our cruising we have never seen dancers like these, especially the men. The night when all the musicians (20+) performed together was very good. I enjoyed Hamlet as put on by RADA. The female guest singer was wonderful so I caught part of her second show too. There was the usual a juggler, sigh. The lecturers were so good if we missed them we watched them later, on our room TV. The games room for bridge at the front of the ship on level 11 is terible for bridge lessons. It is less than ten feet wide, long and narrow. Everyone was jammed in like sardines and it was noisy. In the Gym/Spa, the area for the machines is cramped, crowded and dingy. No ocean views here. The area for the stretch, yoga and Pilates classes is on level one in the bowels of the ship. The room is alright but one must sign up for classes the day before. So the first day 30 of us arrived for the free stretch class and we were told that only the first 20 could attend. We then had to scramble as fast as we could to get up to the spa on level 7 at the other end of the ship and get our name on the list for the next day. Those of us who got into the class at 8:00 a.m. then had to run up the stairs or get on an elevator first, run to the spa and join the line up. The signup papers are then supposed to be put out at 8:45. By 9:00 there are 50 people in the line up hoping to get into the next day's classes. I was always on the waiting list and some people didn't show up so I got into the classes but it did not seem right that those who could run faster through the ship always could grab a spot and slower folks were left behind. I asked one of the staff about this and suggested having a second stretch class and I was told "no don't worry by the fourth day there is lots of room". That's true the numbers dropped to 20 because many people just gave up. And the classes were quite good. We dined in the Britannia first seating. We had very nice table companions, We had a rectangular table for six on the top level and it was very noisy. You really could not talk easily. This is a ship which requires a jacket for the men for every evening meal and tux or black suit for the formal nights. Fancy attire every night is not our favourite thing but I understand it. However on the last night when many men had already packed their clothes, they had to keep out their suits jackets out. Country club casual that one night would have been appreciated. On the whole the food was fine, but not exceptional. We felt the food did not match the attire requested. The dinner menu is more limited than most of the ships on which we have sailed. Food quality was on par with most Holland America and a few Princess ships but not as good as Azamara or Celebrity. Our table waiter and his assistant were very accommodating and did their absolute best. For example everyone at our table requested extra green vegetables and a variety arrived automatically every night from then on. The King's Court which is the buffet area, really feels like a college school cafeteria and is not very pleasant but it is functional and one can of course go to the buffet dressed smart casual. We found the lunch buffet did not have as much variety but the quality was much, much better than many ship's lido decks. I will take quality over variety anytime. The Kings Court has special dinners at night. A cooking demonstration meal (we attended Indian night which was fun and different), a carvery and Asian and Italian. One pays an extra $10 for these. I have a special diet. I have a gluten intolerance and it is my responsibility to communicate my needs. As with all other lines I pre registered. Perhaps because this is a seven day transatlantic run, there really isn't the time do develop a rapport with staff but there is a lack of communication between several staff even within departments. Suffice it to say that I got my gluten free items only after daily requests and finally after four days I received a few cookies and some cereal. I was then told that there were waffles, muffins, pancakes available and there were at least ten other passengers needing gluten free . On day five I attended the high tea and there were even gluten free scones with clotted cream..yum. My husband and I decided to book a future cruise but as we did not want to pick a specific cruise we wanted to put down the $300 deposit each on a future cruise and we would then fit one into our travel schedule. Like everyone else, I left it to the second last day and I queued up when the office opened at 10:00. At 10:30 the line had not moved and I had another commitment so I chose to come back in the afternoon. Once again I queued up but I was quite surprised when the young woman was very resistant to my request. She wanted me to pick a cruise anytime up to 2013. When I explained that we wanted to cruise again but wanted to put the cruise into our travels like a segment of a world cruise, she again insisted I pick a cruise. She then said that I could just keep cancelling with my travel agent until I got the cruise I really wanted. I replied that I did not think that was fair to my agent because of the extra work. So I asked if Cunard does allow a non specific cruise credit. She said yes but if I lose the piece of paper then I lose the credit. I was flabbergasted and there was a queue behind me so I asked if she had a form that I could fill out and she said I could call her line later if I was really interested. I found this off-putting so I did not try to call her later. Disembarkation could not have been easier. We arrived to Red Hook Pier in Brooklyn at 7:00 a.m. on Labour Day. We chose to take our luggage with us and disembarked around 8:30 and we caught a cab right away to La Guardia Airport. With a tip it was less than $35. I have since contacted Cunard customer relations to have them clarify the future cruise credit policy and they were straightforward enough to tell me that I had been given the wrong information and non specific cruise credits are accepted and they are automatically connected to our world cruise numbers. Do we want to try the Queen Mary again? Absolutely, the ship is gorgeous, the entertainment great fun and the food was fine. The positives far out weighed the negatives. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise on QM2. The whole experience was amazing from start to finish. She is a wonderful liner full of exuberance and elegance. Enhanced by the elegant dress code which is fitting to her ... Read More
We have recently returned from Norwegian Fjords Cruise on QM2. The whole experience was amazing from start to finish. She is a wonderful liner full of exuberance and elegance. Enhanced by the elegant dress code which is fitting to her style. Accommodation was a balcony room with restricted views, which was clean, comfortable and spacious. The White Star service was second to none with friendly courteous staff who go that extra mile to please. Dining in the Brittania Restaurant was a pleasure, great food and great service. There are two sittings, 6pm and 8:30, we chose the latter to make the most of the tours and sail-away's. The sail-away parties are great fun but Hamburg was unforgettable with hundreds and thousands of people lining the River Elbe to wave us off. Favourite ports of call were Flam, a quaint little village with stunning views and scenery. Well worth a trip on the railway to the top of the mountain and cycle ride back down. Hamburg, a vibrant city with lots to see and do. Christiansands,a charming port with marina, castle and wonderful lakes to explore.  A trip of a lifetime which exceeded our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
In August 2011, my wife and I took our second 14 day transatlantic roundtrip with the QMary2 and as a result of our satisfaction with the cruise (and its price) reserved for a third transatlantic roundtrip, this third time not limited to ... Read More
In August 2011, my wife and I took our second 14 day transatlantic roundtrip with the QMary2 and as a result of our satisfaction with the cruise (and its price) reserved for a third transatlantic roundtrip, this third time not limited to repeating the 14 day crossing (which would have been in June, 2012), rather expanding it to the 25 day extended roundtrip in August, 2012 (which includes Germany and Scandinavian countries). Our first crossing in June 2010 was on a A1 cabin, realizing it was no better than a A2 cabin, just more expensive, so took our second crossing in August 2011 on the latter and saved about 50% on a room just a few doors away. We therefore recommend anyone contemplating an A1 cabin to closely compare with A2 cabins before committing. The Atlantic ocean behaved even better this time, several times forcing us to look out the balcony to make sure we indeed were on a ship crossing the Atlantic, not a mere lake large enough to not let us see the coast. As in our first crossing, the food, the service and the entertainment were more than just acceptable. Actually better, especially the entertainment, with classical piano and guitar shows, 3D movies, a wonderful harpist and an even more wonderful violin quartet. Of particular interest and appreciation was seeing the opera Carmen on 3D. The eatery on deck 7, called Kings Court, was no better or worse. Just crowded with the same food. However, the Britannia restaurant was much better, both food and service. The wine, however, was equally expensive and equally of low quality, unless one is willing to spend over $60 for a bottle costing $20 or less in a local store back home. We recommend having lunch and dinner at the Britannia, leaving the Kings Court buffet for breakfast, although the Britannia also offers breakfast a la carte. The only really negative comment we have has to do with the violations of the dress code for men by many many guests and the ship staff's unwillingness to do anything about it, as we experienced when we consulted with staff on three different occasions. This is not a major issue, but it does upset those who follow the rules even to their dislike, which suggests that Cunard should rethink its dress code policy for men. Either maintain the present dress code policy and require its compliance from violators, or change it by making it strictly voluntary and requiring only the informality of coats and ties, or doing away with coats and ties entirely, as have done other cruise lines. We are, of course, referring to the eight (8) formal nights "requiring" tuxedos or dark suits for men, and two (2) informal nights "requiring" coats and ties for men. The worst is to pretend the codes are obligatory and then refuse to have violators comply. As usual, main street on the QMary2, where all the stores are, was a constant sidewalk market with people spending their money as if they had received it as a Christmas present or as an unearned work bonus. The only thing missing was a sidewalk cafe, where men would be able to sit and sip a cup of tea or coffee while watching the women shop. A real treat to see so many people enthusiastically buying just because the tickets said the items were on sale, often buying regardless of the resulting net price. My wife was one of those, in her case buying for our grandchildren, primarily, although she did end up buying a couple of things for herself, because of the "terrific" prices. The greatest satisfaction about this second cruise, to me at least, was that we spent 14 days without having to disembark for tours a single time. Next year it will be different if we indeed take the reserved 25 day crossing, disembarking for tours in several northern cities to enjoy rides and walks surrounded by the cool weather of Scandinavia. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Days at sea - so full of things to do - there just aren't enough hours in the day. Don't misunderstand me it's all VERY relaxing, but between bouts of eating splendid food, the activities available on board are so varied, ... Read More
Days at sea - so full of things to do - there just aren't enough hours in the day. Don't misunderstand me it's all VERY relaxing, but between bouts of eating splendid food, the activities available on board are so varied, there's always something for you to engage with that suits your tastes. From talks on wartime events, thru classical concerts, modern music, line dancing, superb theatre entertainment; the list is extensive. All hosted by professionals, well versed in their own discipline. Then there's the hotel staff who look after one's well being - beautifully serviced staterooms, restaurants, bars - in fact every on- board facility. What goes on 'behind the scenes' - which you never see - for you to receive such excellent care must be a powerhouse of activity. A toast to the kitchen staff, the laundry, and of course the ship's crew, who steer you away from a possible rainstorm - just for your comfort. How good is that ? Only one real complaint - due to security considerations - the really interesting parts of the vessel are out of bounds. i.e. the bridge and the engine room - I'd love to have seen them both 'in action'. I've seen both on many vessels during refit, but never at sea. A small disappointment. Then there's the port visits. Whether you take a well organised excursion, or just idle your way through the port itself, taking in the local flavour - they are the highlights of the cruise. And to end up in Venice - arriving by sea - is something everyone should experience. All in all, I'll remember it for a very long time. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first holiday cruise - we'd been pampered on business-related cruises twice before - so we had some trepidation and I would say only average expectations. Delighted to say the Queen Elizabeth and staff excelled despite ... Read More
This was our first holiday cruise - we'd been pampered on business-related cruises twice before - so we had some trepidation and I would say only average expectations. Delighted to say the Queen Elizabeth and staff excelled despite the efforts of Baltic weather which, disappointingly, meant we couldn't get into Stockholm which was going to be one of the highlights. We had booked probably too many excursions. Kristiansand and Oslo would have been better done at one's own speed and interests and you can go on your own to an ice bar (which had been the draw in Oslo). Copenhegan is a massive roadworks at the moment and, therefore, again self touring would have been preferable to being ensconced in coaches. We had tried six months in advance to book into Noma voted the best restaurant in the world (!) at 1401 Kobenhaun, tel +45 3296 3297, but only succeeded in making the waiting list. Despite regular texts with the owners, who were extremely courteous, we failed and were advised better luck next time (which we will certainly pursue). We did Helsinki ourselves and that was well worthwhile although retail prices are on the high side. We would thoroughly recommend the Kamp Cafe (part of the only 5-star restaurant in Helsinki) at Pohjoisesplanadi 29, reservations +358 09 5840 9539. We had decided to push the boat out(sic)in St Petersburg and subscribe separately ($455 a time) for two x 4-hour private car tours with driver and English-speaking guide to The Catherine Palace and The Peter Palace. The guides were good if a little guarded - the shadow of Communism still lurks - and each palace was over an hour's drive which, therefore, reduced the time on site to less than two hours. Despite this it was well worth the extra money and enabled you to leapfrog the queues which were of epic proportions (as was the gold leaf). The highlight, however, was a Cunard-organised evening tour and concert at the Hermitage which was simply magical. The Hermitage is closed on Mondays but was opened especially in the evening for I would estimate around 200 people (all from the Queen Elizabeth) split into groups of 25 which were given exclusive tours of many of the Hermitage exhibits - we didn't see all four million ! After that there was a glass of champagne and a 50-minute concert by the Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Igor Ponomarenko in the Great Skylight Italian Hall. Truly memorable. A MUST (even at $396 for two). The next stop was Talinn where, again, we would recommend missing the organised tours ! Sadly, Talinn is completely swamped by cruise ships and is becoming something of a second-rate Disneyesque "attraction". The final stop was Zeebrugge where I elected to go on the Flanders' Fields tour which includes an excellent museum where you can browse on your own. Driving rain at the first military cemetery added to the poignancy. I was glad I went but the sadness and waste of life was palpable. More cheerfully and back on Board I only have praise for the lecturers (which included Lord Geoffrey Archer on our cruise, plus lectures on The Battle of Jutland (1915), the Heroes of Telemark (WWII), the Falklands Wars and the Faberge Eggs. I also "took in" lectures on the i-Pad and using mobile phone cameras, both of which were pedestrian, and my wife tells me the abridged version of Twelth Night (Sixth Night ?) was well worth missing. Alas, poor Shakespeare! We chose to go Brittania Club which meant open dining and you could elect for tables of two which we did and this worked very well. Service was impeccable and the sommelier added substantially to our enjoyment. The food was good and occasionally excellent. The 22-hour buffet restaurant was also first class and exceeded expectations for a midnight feast post the Hermitage St Petersburg evening. Room service for breakfast was also excellent. Finally, if you like a pub, they have one and I can vouch for the Draft Guinness and the pub fare. The cabin was also spacious (the shower was a little cramped) with plenty of hanging space and under-bed storage. All in all, an excellent holiday. We are hooked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first time cruising with Cunard and like many others on board we had been tempted by the significant reduction in the price of this cruise. With the cost of a balcony cabin being about half that ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with Cunard and like many others on board we had been tempted by the significant reduction in the price of this cruise. With the cost of a balcony cabin being about half that originally advertised, we were concerned it would result in a reduction in the service provided. We were therefore relieved to find this was not the case. In fact, with a few minor exceptions, the whole experience was extremely pleasant. I should say that the comparisons made in this review are with previous cruises with P&O, Princess, Celebrity and Azamara. We booked direct with Cunard, as their price was the same as that offered by the cheapest on the internet. The whole process was very straightforward. EMBARKATION We arrived at 12:30 and there was little delay in checking in and boarding. Our cabin was ready for us (unlike P&O, where there is usually a delay). Lunch was available in the Lido self service restaurant. We decided to have a freshly cooked pizza, which was excellent. These are available each day with various toppings, as well as fresh pasta dishes prepared while you wait. These are in addition to a wide variety of cooked and cold dishes, plus daily specialities. Unlike others who have complained about the food served in the Lido, we found it offered a consistently high standard with a good variety each day. At peak times, on sea days, it could be difficult to find a seat, but by not arriving at 1 o'clock for lunch, this could be avoided. There was always the option of eating lunch in the Britannia restaurant, where there was always a good choice of food. (Not on embarkation day). CABIN Our standard A4 grade balcony cabin was comparable in size to other ships with similar facilities. One thing it lacks, which P&O provide, is tea and coffee making facilities. These can, however, be supplied by room service and are also available from the Lido. The hanging space is very limited, with two wardrobes, each being only 20 inches wide. As Cunard have a more formal dress code than other ships, more hanging space would have been useful. There are three sets of fairly small drawers, plus shelves for clothes which do not need to be hung up. If you bring more than two large suit cases, there is insufficient storage space under the beds (which have the option of twin or double configuration). This is because Cunard have installed large drawers under the ends of the beds, taking up much of the normal storage space for cases. These drawers are for the storage of duvets etc for the alternative bed configuration, not additional storage space for you! Dressing gowns and slippers are provided. The mattresses were moderately hard, but not uncomfortable. A small flat screen television is provided. The picture quality varied from day to day. It has satellite news channels, including Sky and BBC World, plus a range of films, music channels and recordings of earlier lectures in the theatre, plus presentations on the ports of call. There is a useful morning program presented by the Entertainment Director, telling you about what was going on during the day, as well as interviews with members of the crew and some of the lecturers. There was also a "weather forecast" which was invariably wrong. It would forecast rain, when there was warm sunshine and vice versa, but it was presumably recorded the night before. In the shower room Gilchrist & Soames shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion are provided, but strangely, no shower cap. The towels are thick and of adequate size, but certainly not large, or fluffy. Face flannels are also provided. In our shower room the grouting between the tiles was starting to discolour and there was mould in the corners. This was one of the few areas where the ship was starting to show some deterioration. It was noted that during the cruise there was ongoing maintenance and sections of worn carpet were being replaced. The thermostatic shower always provided a strong, hot supply of water. The shower drainage was very efficient, unlike that experienced on some other ships, where the bathroom would often flood because the water did not run away fast enough. Again, unlike some other ships we did not experience the toilet drainage system becoming blocked - through no fault of your own making! BRITANNIA RESTAURANT All but those in the Suites eat dinner in the Britannia Restaurant, spread over two decks, with two sittings, 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm. This is where Queen Victoria excels. The quality, presentation and choice were very good. For vegetarians there were always a number of choices, but I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject. Generally, I would rate the quality of the food from very good to excellent. Unlike P&O, who still provide "Silver Service", the appropriate vegetables were provided with each dish. P&O provide a separate serving of often inappropriate, under or over cooked vegetables. Breakfast and lunch are also served in the Britannia Restaurant. Service for breakfast could be erratic. If you were lucky enough to have an experienced waiter, the service was excellent, but if not,there were times when the wrong combination of cooked food arrived and your tea or coffee was not automatically topped up. ALTERNATIVE DINING As we were more than satisfied with the food in the Britannia Restaurant, we did not try the Todd English fine dining restaurant, where you pay according to your choice from an a la carte menu. Those who did eat there were very impressed. There was also the option of themed dining in a section of the Lido each evening, with the Indian theme the most popular. There was a cover charge of $10, plus 15% service charge. AFTERNOON TEA This is another area where Cunard excel. Served in the very attractive Queens Room, by waiters and waitresses wearing white gloves. A truly special occasion, equal to that provided in top hotels. DRINKS This is probably the biggest criticism of Cunard and many other ships, other than those operated by P&O. The prices are very high and then they add a 15% service charge. They are approaching twice the prices charged by P&O. This means that many tend to drink less, but presumably not to such an extent that Cunard still make an equal profit to P&O, where the lower prices result in more drinks being sold. I suppose that with the cost of cruising continuing to fall, in relative terms, the cruise lines have to extract as much as possible from us once you are on board. As a result, drinks and excursions (I will not have a rant about tour prices) are extortionately expensive. SERVICE This is another area where Queen Victoria excelled. They claim to provide a "White Star Service" and it shows. The crew consisted of a mix from most corners of the world and with only a few exceptions, they were, friendly, polite and efficient. We have not experienced such consistently good service on any of the other ships on which we have cruised. One of the exceptions was our stateroom steward. He would sometimes forget towels or to replace the shower gel. He would however, always clean the room efficiently while we were at breakfast and dinner, thus causing us no inconvenience. ENTERTAINMENT This is an area where I am usually very disappointed. The normal standard of entertainment in the theatre on the ships is very amateurish. On Queen Victoria the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers were truly of West End theatre quality, as were the costumes, lighting, sound, choreography and music. OK, so some may have found the amount of dancing a bit monotonous, but you could not fault their skill, or desire to create different forms of dance. There was an outstanding comedian/singer/impressionist. Sorry, I do not recall his name. He was deservedly given a standing ovation. There were also some interesting lecturers during the day. The theatre itself was stunning, it really is just like a traditional West End theatre, complete with boxes. PORTS OF CALL - ALTERNATIVE TO ORGANISED TOURS COPENHAGEN. Docked a short walk from the town and only a few minute's walk along the waterfront from the Little Mermaid. Hop On Hop Off buses were parked next to the ship and charged about 24 Euros for the day, which included all three routes around the town. STOCKHOLM. Docked well outside the town, but free shuttle buses took you to the centre of town. Hop On Hop Off buses also stopped at the port. HELSINKI. Docked well outside the town. A shuttle bus was provided at 8 Euros for a return fare. Hop On Hop Off buses stopped next to the ship. ST PETERSBURG. Docked a long way outside the town. Without a pre-arranged tour, with Visa, you were not allowed to leave the port. There was no form of independent transport available. Therefore, if you want to travel independently, make sure the local tour operator has provided you with tickets and Visas. One couple had arranged a private tour, but their tickets and Visas were on the other side of the passport control and they were not allowed to leave. TALLIN. Docked a short distance from the town, but free shuttle bus provided. Also Hop On Hop Off buses at the port. ZEEBRUGGE. Docked in the commercial port, but free shuttle buses took you to the adjacent seaside town of Blankenberge. This had a good range of shops, cafes and restaurants. DISEMBARKATION Leaving the ship at Southampton could not have been more straightforward. Our allotted time to leave was 8:30am. We were off the ship, had collected our cases and were in our waiting taxi by 8:50. OTHER PASSENGERS The average age of those on board, excluding the small number of children, was probably mid fifties to early sixties, unlike our experience on P&O cruises from Southampton on Aurora, where the average age is probably late sixties, with a much greater number in wheelchairs, or charging around on their mobility scooters. CONCLUSIONS We had always wanted to try a Cunard cruise and the reduction in price was sufficient to persuade us to book Queen Victoria. We boarded with no high expectations, but we were very pleasantly surprised at just how good it was. Cunard/Celebrity have obviously fine tuned the design of these modern ships and basic services, such as plumbing, heating and lighting work efficiently. There is also good sound proofing between the cabins, sorry, staterooms! One also has to bear in mind we were on a cruise operating at full capacity and whereas this has caused problems on other ships, we were not aware of any such difficulties on Queen Victoria. I am sure there will be others on the same cruise who perhaps did encounter problems, but we appreciate that when there are around 1000 crew members, however good the training may be, it cannot be perfect all the time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having persuaded friends who have never cruised before to join us we were slightly apprehensive having read some of the negative comments. I would like to reassure people who have future bookings with Queen Elizabeth that we completely ... Read More
Having persuaded friends who have never cruised before to join us we were slightly apprehensive having read some of the negative comments. I would like to reassure people who have future bookings with Queen Elizabeth that we completely disagree with several comments. For the first time we had booked car parking with CPS. On arrival at Southampton porters were waiting to take our luggage and there were plenty of representatives from CPS waiting to drive our car away. There were only two passengers ahead of us at check-in and we were inside our cabin within 10 to 15 minutes of arriving at the port. We have been on several cruises before, including the QE2 and Queen Mary, and traveled on most classes from very basic to a suite with butler service. This time we had gone for the cheaper option of a Britannia Oceanview stateroom on Deck 1 (1105). We were not expecting very much but were pleasantly surprised. The state room was spacious with plenty of wardrobe and storage draws and ample hangers. The dEcor was plain but there was a tasteful print above the bed. The TV was an adequate 19" but then who goes on a cruise to watch TV? The bathroom was well designed with shelves either side of the mirror and a large storage shelf below the basin. The shower was large enough that the shower curtain did not wrap round you as you showered. As well as bath-robes and slippers there were plenty of toiletries which were replenished regularly. Our steward, Ramone, quickly came to introduce himself and our main luggage arrived before we had unpacked our hand luggage. Our steward was excellent and always kept our cabin and bathroom immaculate. The Muster drill probably only took 20 minutes but was mainly delayed by people being at the wrong muster station or unable to master putting on the life-jacket. As we had opted for the second sitting we had plenty of time to explore the ship before changing for dinner. The corridors outside the cabins were plain but the remainder of the ship was beautifully decorated throughout in an Art Deco style. As usual there were plenty of places for a quiet drink, game of cards or to read a book. On deck there were plenty of steamer chairs and tables and chairs. On our first night we were afraid we would be kept awake by the engines but we all fell asleep very quickly. We ate most of our meals in the Britannia Restaurant where the food was always excellent and well presented. In particular some of the meat was the best we have eaten compared to many restaurants. Our waiter, Edgar, assistant waiter and wine waiter were always very pleasant and could not do enough for us. Not once did they mix up our order and they never ran out of anything. A previous comment was made about the size of the meals but we found the cooked breakfast, three course lunch and four course dinner more than enough although possibly appreciated more by those who want quality rather than quantity. If people were still hungry there was plenty of opportunity for snacking 24/7. We ate lunch a few times at the Lido self-service restaurant which was well presented with plenty of hot meals or salads. We could only manage afternoon tea twice but although very busy there were plenty of dainty sandwiches, small cakes and scones with jam and cream. The entertainment in the theatre was very good most of the time although there were a couple of evenings we did not enjoy. It is difficult to provide something each night for 11 nights which is not to everyone's taste. Throughout our stay we found all the staff from cleaners up to officers all most attentive and always smiling and greeting us when we passed them in the corridor. As usual there was plenty to occupy people each day. Going to Norway we did not expect the weather to be sunny everyday but were very fortunate that it was fine and often sunny each time we went on one of the tours. We went on 4 tours which were well organized. The guides very knowledgeable and given the high cost of everything in Norway the tours were good value for the price charged. We also did some walking tours around towns ourselves. In conclusion we felt the ship was more suited for people who prefer Claridges/Savoy to a floating Butlins. We could not fault any of the staff who worked very hard. On the other hand we did come across guests who were rude to the staff. Our friends were very impressed with their first cruise and will definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This being our first ever cruise I was very apprehensive having read previous cruisers negative comments. I shouldn't have worried,this was the most wonderful holiday we have ever had, despite my husband being 'cabin bound' ... Read More
This being our first ever cruise I was very apprehensive having read previous cruisers negative comments. I shouldn't have worried,this was the most wonderful holiday we have ever had, despite my husband being 'cabin bound' for 4 days due to a prolapsed disc (more about that later). We arrived at Southampton at 11.45am and were very impressed by the efficient way our car and luggage were taken from us. By 12.10pm we were in our cabin, unpacking. We were in a Queens Grill Penthouse Q4 (having been upgraded by our sons and brother from Britannia Club). We were amazed at the amount of storage space, a lot of which we never managed to fill!! Our Butler Natalia and her deputy Ronald were very attentive and nothing was too much trouble. The food in the Queens Grill was excellent and the waiters and sommelier looked after us very well. During the evening of our third day my husbands back became painful so we decided to fore-go our Roof of Norway tour the next day(Monday) and that he would stay in bed to rest. Therefore we ate in our stateroom, being able to order whatever was on offer in the Queens Grill that day. Unfortunately the back worsened and at 6.30am on the Tuesday I had to call in the medical team who diagnosed a prolapsed disc. They were absolutely brilliant- Dr Alan Ward and nurses Ellie and Selina looked after him so well that he was up and walking...very carefully...on Thursday. He could not have been treated better anywhere ashore and we can't praise the medical staff enough. Natalia our Butler really looked after us throughout this difficult time. We cancelled the rest of our planned tours on the doctors advice and were reimbursed for all of them. When we returned to the Queens Grill for our meals we were really made a fuss of and looked after so well. Although this spoilt my husbands enjoyment a little we were just happy to spend the time soaking up the atmosphere and wonderful surroundings and wouldn't have missed it for the world. I have never wanted to go on a cruise but my husband always has and I gave in eventually. I'm so pleased I did. I loved it and really hope we are fortunate enough to cruise on Queen Elizabeth again (free of back trouble!!). I certainly wouldn't want to cruise with any other line than Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
From the moment we embarked in record time-15 minutes, we were welcomed, made to feel comfortable and began to relax in the majestic surroundings of QM2. The food was incredibly good, Todd English restaurant could not do enough to make our ... Read More
From the moment we embarked in record time-15 minutes, we were welcomed, made to feel comfortable and began to relax in the majestic surroundings of QM2. The food was incredibly good, Todd English restaurant could not do enough to make our anniversary dinner special and delicious. Our stateroom was immaculately pristine complete with champagne and spirits, ice and mix. The service in the Queens Grill would be hard to beat in the finest establishments, simply put - we felt very spoiled! To top things off, we had been upgraded from Princess Grill, which in previous trips we have found to be outstanding! What a fine start. We attended all of the lectures on Shakespeare by Emma Smith (very good!) and all of those by John Maxtone-Smith on cruise ships (excellent) but were disappointed with Dr. Ruth, so left early. There was so much to do, even Julliard Jazz musicians were superb, pianists were great and the dancing/galas wonderful. One could not manage all the activities available - choices had to be made. Captain Paul Wright was a most friendly guy and Cunard will miss him as he retires after this trip. Oh, almost forgot, did the personal trainer thing each day and it was very good at Canyon spa. Tip: buy a 3 day spa pass and use the thallasotherapy pool and sauna/steam room, a good bargain! The TA crossing was mostly quiet seas running although we did have 24' waves one day, but the motion was minimal on QM2, nobody missed dining,nor walking nor jogging. We left home a day early as is our pattern to join the cruise and stayed in a hotel of our choosing, allowing for morning shopping in NY. We were first off the ship (0715) in Southampton to limo it to catch an early flight to Ireland (expensive limo but got us to Ireland in time for Guinness!). Put a QM2 TA on your list, we will do it again and enjoy it ever so much, simply a great experience! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
After reading other reviews of this crossing, we must have been on a different ship. We spent the first day exploring the ship, locating the planetarium, theater, dining areas, and other activity venues. At every elevator lobby there is a ... Read More
After reading other reviews of this crossing, we must have been on a different ship. We spent the first day exploring the ship, locating the planetarium, theater, dining areas, and other activity venues. At every elevator lobby there is a diagram of the ship indicating the location of each area we wanted to visit. Our cabin was reasonably sized with generous closet and storage space. We paid extra to have an unobstructed view from our balcony and consider it money well spent. We spent many evenings on our balcony after returning from the evening's entertainment with a cocktail promptly delivered by room service. Our steward kept our cabin very clean every day. We even had fresh towels and the tv turned to important reminders for the next day every evening when we returned from dinner. Whenever we met him in the hallway, he greeted us by name and was an excellent source information. We as well as our table-mates agreed that there were plenty of options for appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. Our wait staff greeted us by name every time we arrived for dinner, knew our drink preferences, and promptly kept our water glasses and bread plates filled. Even when in the King's Court or at breakfast, when we ran into our dinner servers, they greeted us by name. We enjoyed walking around the outside deck even though some areas were closed off on some days because of high winds. We explored all the decks at some point during our week on ship. We truly enjoyed our week and everyone seemed really willing to answer questions, or offer alternatives if they were unable to meet our requests. A special request to tour the engine room was accomodated and a highlight of our trip. We especially thank the waiter in the pub who made an excellent iced tea; the wine steward at dinner who always had a cold budweiser waiting at our table; the servers who served us dessert as our entree as we requested; our steward whom we wanted to stow in our luggage and take home with us. We also thank our travel agent who made suggestions which we heeded for this alternative way to travel to England. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Four of us [myself/wife/son/daughter-in-law, travelled on Monday 23rd May last,and stayed one night at the Holiday Inn Express,in Southampton,because of the distance involved,over 250 miles..This allowed plenty of time,especially if ... Read More
Four of us [myself/wife/son/daughter-in-law, travelled on Monday 23rd May last,and stayed one night at the Holiday Inn Express,in Southampton,because of the distance involved,over 250 miles..This allowed plenty of time,especially if anything went wrong....[but didn`t]. We made our way to BCP Cruise International carparking in the morning of 24th May,and they then tranferred us to Southampton dockside,where our cases were taken from the bus and thats all we saw of them until a couple of hours later,outside our cabins.....Embarkation looked impossible when we eventually arrived at the booking section,so many people, but the card we were given "L" was called not too long afterwards and we were then processed and given our QM identification cards,which acted as "passports/credit cards" for the duration of our holiday period.the whole period of time from entering to actually being in our cabin took about an hour,including passing through Security,before allowed aboard. When we arrived at our cabin,and used the given card to enter,we were amazed at the interior, Enough storage space for three cases and a king sized bed, two seater[which would have acted as another double bed,small dressing table and a balcony [albeit with an "obstructed" lifeboat view-but nevertheless sufficient for our pleasure] After putting away some of our clothes,hunger and beihg of an investigative nature,the four of us went searching for dinner. The Kings Court on dect 7 was a hive if industry with all new passengers taking advantage of a wonderful spread and we were soon well fed. Because of a lot of passengers coming aboard at the same time,table space was at a premium,but suitable seating was soon found in one of the may available tables. We found details of our dining arrangements in our cabin and went looking for the restaurant..everything found to be fine,including the "Golden Lion" pub on deck two,the facilities on board the QM2 are unbelievable in that nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff at each location, a wonderful start to our cruise......Every evening our dinner table was served by two members of the crew and we were looked after very well by them for the 10 nights.[even to having a birthday cake-on 31st May-plus the birthday song by the serving staff] and at the end of the cruise,we were presented with a copy of the menu`s we had each evening Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We arrived at Heathrow and traveled to Southampton by car. The boarding process was smooth although made a little tedious. We had arrived early and although the pre-trip information stated boarding would begin at Noon, we watched ... Read More
We arrived at Heathrow and traveled to Southampton by car. The boarding process was smooth although made a little tedious. We had arrived early and although the pre-trip information stated boarding would begin at Noon, we watched 'priority' passengers begin boarding around 11:00. Once we were called the process was smooth and we were in our cabin by around 12:30. The cabin lived up to our expectations. We requested the bed in the king configuration--which worked well and likely gives just a little more space. Bathroom is small but this is a ship--I don't expect a large bathroom unless paying for premium stateroom. The provided bathrobe and slippers were a nice touch. We enjoyed the balcony--we were about midships, just below the Lido Restaurant. We had been upgraded from an A4 cabin. I overheard someone complaining about the noise from above but we only heard rolling carts at various times--not enough to disturb us. Perhaps there are cabins in other areas on the same deck that are more subject to noise disturbance--we experienced none really. This was my first experience with a balcony and we did enjoy--especially my cigar-smoking partner. This was also my first experience on a ship larger than about 1,000 passengers. I found the QV to be comfortable and did not feel crowded. I don't think I would like to try a larger ship but who knows what the future may bring.The Lido was great for breakfast, lunch, and snacking. I also enjoyed being one deck below the Lido entrance where I could get a cup of tea whenever I wanted. The overall decor pays homage to Cunard's history and I enjoyed walking the stairs, seeing paintings of various ships, and photographs of famous past passengers. The mid ship area around the pavilion pool is very nice, as is the back, open deck on deck 8. We did not have great weather so I didn't use the outside areas as much as I would have liked.Dinners were excellent. We (first seating) were seated at a table right near a window on the first level of the Britannia. I appreciate the fact that QV sticks to the formal night atmosphere (there were 3) and turns people away from the dining room if not in 'proper' attire. I really dislike having formal nights on a ship where some people turn up in jeans and a t shirt. There 2 days at sea and 4 ports. I appreciated the courtesy shuttle at Dublin and Bilbao. Our captain was particularly likable. First captain I've encountered who enjoys his social responsibilities as much as his naval chores. All in all a very nice experience. I've signed up for another QV cruise--in November of this year. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We wanted to see what this new ship was like. So on 23rd May we boarded her for a six-day min-cruise up and down the Channel. First impressions were good. The Queen Elizabeth is still so new that the paintwork sparkles, the ... Read More
We wanted to see what this new ship was like. So on 23rd May we boarded her for a six-day min-cruise up and down the Channel. First impressions were good. The Queen Elizabeth is still so new that the paintwork sparkles, the woodwork glows and the whole ambience is fresh and bright. The subdued Art deco style is restful and reassuring, evocative of the great days of ocean liners. Layout is thoughtfully planned, with spacious public areas and easy-to-follow routes around the ship. The downside? Our A3 cabin was decidedly smaller than those we are used to in this category. Whilst it is neatly laid out and well appointed, we're not sure we would want to spend a longish time (eg for a world cruise) in so small a space. However, the beds were splendidly comfortable and a feather pillow was found for Caroline, so we slept well. The staff seem to be highly motivated, cheerful and well trained, mastering the art of being helpful without being obtrusive. We like the way in which tips are added automatically to one's account. Then if anyone deserves something extra, one can always add it. The food was excellent. We're always astonished at what a chef can achieve on board a cruise ship, and this catering was exceptional. Plenty of choice, creative ideas on the menu and the Lido buffet was definitely a notch above the usual standard for this level of eating. But we missed those intimate little (often Italian style) alternative eateries which we have come to enjoy on other ships. Instead, the huge Lido buffet is turned into a partially alternative eating area providing a different menu (eg Asian, Mexican, South American) each evening. The snag with this is that whilst the food may be quite exotic, the setting is still that of a conventional buffet. Added to which, the Lido is long and rambling with no consistent scheme for the display of food. Confused couples drift back and forth wondering where they should start their search for a meal. The Royal Court theatre is quite astounding - a real theatre with stalls, circle and boxes, with none of the usual problems with sight lines and seating. Shows were of a good standard with a particularly amusing comedian/pianist. The library is also spectacular. It occupies two decks, joined by an impressive spiral staircase, and one can choose from some 6,000 books, many of them almost new. This is the best ship's library we have ever come across. Afternoon tea is quite genuinely a special experience. In the Queen's Room white-gloved waiters and waitresses serve a choice of teas with accompanying scones, sandwiches and cakes. It's all very elegant and "Cunard". Poor weather meant that we really couldn't make best use of the ports visited (apart from a few hours in Amsterdam and a trip to Blankenburg) but we noted that Bruges, Paris, WW1 battlefields and other interesting locations were included, which could be ideal for some visitors. We thoroughly enjoyed our mini-cruise, but would a sparkling ship, fine cuisine and attentive staff compensate for a smaller than usual cabin on longer trips? We're still undecided. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We had quite a few worries before we arrived on board. I have to say that none of them were borne out. We enjoyed the trip immensely.We were a party of four: two elderly parents with two thirty-something offspring. Would there be enough ... Read More
We had quite a few worries before we arrived on board. I have to say that none of them were borne out. We enjoyed the trip immensely.We were a party of four: two elderly parents with two thirty-something offspring. Would there be enough to keep everyone interested? We took plenty of reading just in case. Very little reading was done; the on-board activities were many and varied. There was a show in the Royal Court Theatre every night - twice, actually: one for each dinner Sitting - and the standard of entertainment was high indeed. The Royal Cunard Singers, a close harmony group, were as good as you would find anywhere. We were really impressed. The dancers, too were excellent. Other acts, whilst making rather less of an impact on us, were also of high standard. The theatre itself is surprisingly large with none of the usual obstructions (pillars etc) we have seen on other vessels. Were it not for the gentle swaying of the ship you could imagine yourself in a medium-sized venue ashore. The ceiling is high and there are upstairs and downstairs seats.The ballroom is advertised as the largest afloat and I am prepared to believe it. Once again no compromise seems to have been made just because it is on a ship. It is a full-sized affair that would not disgrace your local venue. Here, in addition to the obvious balls, dancing lessons were given and the daily afternoon tea sessions took place: tea, sandwiches, and cakes served at table in typically English fashion. The third major venue is called "Illuminations." This is the world's only sea-going planetarium which doubles as a perfectly adequate cinema and theatre. Here it was we enjoyed "The King's Speech" - there was a different film every night: all up-to-date. Although there were some technical problems that delayed the planetarium presentations, we were astonished by "Cosmic Collisions" and "Search for Life" as we reclined on the special seating in almost total darkness. German guests had their own presentations. In was here, too, that the Cunard Insights lectures took place: talks on a variety of topics by expert speakers including astronomer Mark Butterworth and journalist Jerry Eskenazi.Especially enjoyable was the programme of events provided by the group from RADA. In addition to conducting an excellent series of workshops on storytelling, the group presented performances of "Canterbury Tales" and "Much Ado About Nothing" in the theatres, and read bedtime stories and ghost stories at other venues, as well as "Jazz Poetry" and "Passion and Piano" which we were not able to see: there was simply too much to do. Thus we did not use the pub, the casino, the Winter Gardens or the Chart Room, and spent only a little while in the Library. The youngsters spent quite a lot of time in the fitness room, and seemed pretty content with arrangements there.There was one major disruption to the programme of events on 29th April when the Royal Wedding was shown on TV in cabins and on the big screen in the Illuminations cinema. Many other events were poorly attended that day, which is not surprising. Most of the ladies loved it, and Cunard rose to the occasion with a special afternoon tea, dinner menu, souvenir menus, complimentary wedding cake for all guests, and special souvenir items on sale in the Mayfair shops. Dinner that night was Formal - an exception to the normal pattern. There are normally two formal nights when dinner suits are pretty well mandatory. On our trip, of course, there were three. It all adds to the overall atmosphere and fun. A few people let the side down by not adhering to dress codes, but then...We all love dining out and enjoy good food. The Britannia Restaurant did not disappoint. Far from it. The fare was consistently as good as our favourite restaurants at home. Furthermore, our special needs did not cause any problems. One of our party is vegetarian, and was able to select from an extensive vegetarian alternative menu daily - or select from the regular one. I am diet-controlled diabetic, and once more there was no problem. I did not need the special diabetic menu: the regular one had sufficient choice of suitable items.We were impressed by the overall standards of cleanliness, not only in the staterooms, but throughout the ship. We managed to get a glimpse into the kitchens. Absolutely shiny and spotless!A few grumbles: Internet access is expensive. So is the Hair Salon ($200+ for partial highlights: $120 quoted, but then a surprise $80+ for shampoo and blow-dry, as if there is any choice about this.) $11 per person per day is added automatically to your cabin account. No real problem there, the service was excellent and well worth it: I'd just prefer it included in the ticket price. But then another 15% gratuity is added to the price of drinks and some other services, and there is room on the payment slip to add yet an extra tip! A tip + a tip + a tip?A few tips:We discovered that getting a cab from Manhattan to Brooklyn can be a real problem around 3pm: the time that the taxi drivers change shifts. (We made our own arrangements in Manhattan.)There was no problem arranging for our cabin cards to open both cabins and getting different cards allocated to different credit cards.Laundry is not a problem. There are several self-service laundries with dryers and ironing facilities, and they are free to use but not available 24/7.You can get tea, coffee, snacks, etc in the King's Court just about anytime, and full meals most of the time - all free.Disabled access throughout the vessel is first-class. Lifts are provided wherever needed.Room service is free.We were glad we chose the early (6pm) sitting for dinner. Otherwise it's late nights if you want to include the shows.The clocks go forward one hour per day on the Eastbound crossing.There are phones located all around the ship and you can use these to ring you cabin. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
A little background: I'm a solo traveler by choice, love to be on my own, don't like being held to a schedule, and am very happy if I do nothing more each day than sleep late, read my stack of books, and spend time on the ... Read More
A little background: I'm a solo traveler by choice, love to be on my own, don't like being held to a schedule, and am very happy if I do nothing more each day than sleep late, read my stack of books, and spend time on the internet. I wanted a voyage that would allow me to do things my way instead of being regimented, and I wanted to avoid all sorts of crowds, queues, announcements in my stateroom, and distractions of any kind. I also very much wanted great food and service in an intimate setting. Queen's Grill on Cunard's Queen Victoria gave me all of that and more. Embarkation in Ft Lauderdale was effortless; I arrived about 2PM, was taken directly to my suite, and within 15 minutes my bags had arrived. Galvin, my butler, helped me unpack and in less than an hour clothes were hung and bags stowed under the bed. Next I checked with Maitre'd Andrew Nelder in Queen's Grill and was delighted to learn that my request for a table for one had been arranged. I felt very lucky as I had dreaded sitting for hours at a large table, and at that moment Andrew became my hero!The most important event for me each day was dining in the Queen's Grill. I have crossed on the QM2 in QG but thought the dining room was one of the least attractive high-end restaurants I've ever been in. Not so on QV . . . the room is drop-dead gorgeous and the lighting superb. And additionally, Andrew Nelder is the archetypal Maitre'd, both in appearance and in the professionalism that radiates from him. Hollywood casting at its best couldn't have done any better! He looked after me so well during those 16 days that I was nearly in tears when the time came to say goodbye. We sailed on schedule and my first dinner in QG set the pattern for the entire trip. Very good wait staff, a wonderful sommelier named Stalin, and simply marvellous food and service... that first night I knew I'd found a very special place where I was sure to come back to. The great thing about QG is ordering off-menu and I did this several times, but always with 24 hours notice. My favorites were Chateaubriand for one, dover sole, steak Diane, crepes suzette, cherries Jubilee -- all done at table with flames and flourishes. I also loved the cold fruit soups, especially the raspberry with sloe gin which I repeated at dinner one night in a soup plate, giving me about 3 portions instead of one that comes in the soup bowl. When my waiter learned that I was fond of cinnamon ice cream a supply was kept in the freezer for me. Best of all, I requested a dessert made with lemoncello and the next night I was offered a choice of two: roulade or lemoncello jello. The roulade was excellent, but the following night I tried the jello... it was the star and I had two servings of it.My suite was midship on deck 7 and although we had four days of strong gales I was never bothered by the motion. The bed was a dream... lots of wonderful down pillows and bedding of the highest quality. Loved the configuration of the suite: sitting room and bedroom separated by a heavy curtain, ample storage space and a good clothes closet. With this set-up I could order a cold breakfast (hot coffee in the thermos) and sleep as late as I liked knowing that when I awoke my breakfast would be on the table. The piEce de resistánce of my suite was a huge deep jacuzzi tub with separate shower in one room, and a toilet and hand basin in an adjoining one. There were high quality toiletries and plenty of shelf room at each end of the counter. Marble galore... floors, walls, counters, everywhere. I was surprised that there was no double sink in the bathroom, especially as this Q6 suite was to become Q4 on the voyage following ours. I skipped entertainment completely -- no shows, no lectures or concerts, and no scheduled activities. Used the fitness room a couple of times and liked their equipment. Had a manicure and pedicure at the spa (very good) and also a scalp massage and treatment for my dry hair (massage was great, treatment was not). Checked out the library and was surprised not to find a single biography of Queen Victoria. But there were prints, watercolors, sketches and photos of Victoria, Albert and the family (including favorite dogs) scattered about the ship and I loved seeking them out and putting names to the faces. We called at seven ports: I didn't leave the ship in Cape Canaveral, did a stroll around Nassau, another stroll at the port in Bermuda where there was a very nice 'shopping mall' -- architecturally rustic and quite attractive with some good shops. Then came the Azores where I joined up with two other cruisers whom I'd met on the cc roll call for a wonderful drive through the most amazing countryside. The island is a treasure -- green, lush, fabulous plants and flowers in riotous colors, cloud-covered mountaintops -- totally unspoiled and breathtakingly beautiful. The time there was all too short, I so hope that I'll be able to return one day.Next stop was Lisbon. I had arranged for a full day private tour with a highly recommended guide; as I had spent time in Lisbon before we headed north to the hill town of Óbidos, a beautifully preserved example of medieval architecture lying 100 km north of Lisbon. The streets and squares were filled with color and bright flowers were everywhere. We also stopped in Sintra, a World Heritage Site, and then drove along the coast where many once-royal personages had lived in exile, and finally back to the ship. Cohb, Ireland was charming, I did my usual stroll around with some friends, and we ended up at a terrace cafe where we drank very good Irish coffee and watched the world go by. Final port was Le Havre but I stayed on the ship to get my packing organized for debarkation the following morning.For months before the sailing I had been apprehensive about clothes: five formal nights, six semi-formal and something different each night was the message I was getting from reading the boards. So I shopped too much and I packed too much and in the end I learned a lesson about 16 day cruises: no one cares if you wear the same outfit twice or even three times. And another thing, gowns don't have to sweep the floor, they can be ankle length or even shorter. I mention this as I read many other posters asking these questions and I want to reassure them that you can take less and feel completely comfortable and appropriately dressed.Debarkation was smooth with no glitches. I was sending a bag home with the White Star Luggage service and their representative had been very helpful on board taking care of the paperwork, so all I had to do was leave the bag at their pick-up point and be on my way. I stayed on in England for four days and when I got home last night the bag had already arrived safe and sound. Bravo White Star Luggage!My one quibble -- and it is an important one -- is the internet. The problem is that it's both incredibly sluggish and incredibly expensive. I've heard that nothing can be done about the speed but I don't think that's true. It's a simple matter of money; to upgrade the system to 21st century standards Cunard will have to invest money. I hope they will decide to do that... the internet is almost what makes the world go round these days. For me, this comes close to being a deal-breaker... without it a two week cruise would be my limit.Internet aside, Queen Victoria has turned out to be an excellent match for me. Although there were nearly 2,000 passengers aboard I never had the feeling of being crowded or overwhelmed. I could easily find the peace and quiet I craved without raining on anyone else's parade. I had come aboard with only two priorities -- being reclusive by day and dining superbly each night. Both of these were fulfilled far beyond my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. ... Read More
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. Starting dinner at 8,30 pm followed by a show at 10,30 pm means a very late bed-time.Because of this we missed many shows. We liked the magician and the dancers. Dressing up each evening is a hassle. Dinner is a fussy affair on this ship. You have the option of the self service though. Cabin adequate with comfortable balcony. Staff most friendly and polite at all times. One great plus : the LIBRARY ! The weather during most of this cruise was frisky and cloudy. So we spent a lot of time there. One last BIG complaint. Not for the cruise line. Disembarkation took 4 hours because of long lines at re-entry U.S. immigration.We lost a full half day of our holiday because of this disagreeable interminable long wait. The cruise had a stopover in Ensenada. I would gladly have missed this kitschy,seedy tourist-trap if it had meant a faster disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and ... Read More
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and shower all in one place...if you are tall..well, mind your head. Did manage to stow all of our stuff however..suitcases fit nicely under the bed. Our cabin steward, Rick, did a super job taking care of us. We liked the lay-out of the ship, nice feel in all the areas,even tho the ship was full did not feel crowded...we found the staff and passengers extremely friendly, did not encounter and grumps! Our recent experiences have been on QM2 PG dining room so we struggled with the Britannia dining room for dinner. Tho the service was ok the main courses were...tasteless...apps and soups and salads and desserts were good...several times we just had soup and salad. We did enjoy in the Lido, very good fresh made pizza, burgers and great fries, and a good salad selection. Also for breakfast fresh cooked eggs to order. Entertainment & speaker we are split on. I thought the after dinner shows were great the speakers good except for one who was teaching a class...in a dull voice! We had loads of laughs in the Pub for games after the show..or dancing every night in the Queens Room. Cunard has the very best ships for ballroom dancers afloat. Large dance floors! Afternoon tea or a classical concert. Cunard does a super job keeping passengers busy. Or a quiet read in the very nice library. If you enjoy meeting new people than you can't go wrong with a Cunard cruise, we have always found our fellow travelers very interesting and well traveled! We had 4 formal nights in 14 days...I love it... All in all the only problem we had was dinner in the Britannia dining room, we are Calif foodies...and we found the dinner hit and miss! Disembarkation in LA was very smooth. Our time was 8:50am we were at the curb by 9:15am! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that ... Read More
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that extra pizzaz and "wow factor" that is missing on the "QV". After talking with several fellow passengers, the consensus was the same. We loved our balcony cabin with it's tiny shower in the bathroom. One of our tablemates suggested that you soap the shower walls and then "twirl"! Didn't try it, but sounded like a hoot! We had plenty of drawer and closet space. Our room steward, Benny, was very efficient. He kept our cabin spotless and the ice bucket filled. The weather on this particular voyage wa quite cloudy and windy....not what we expected on crossing the Pacific Ocean in February. In the fourteen days we were sailing, we had two sunny days on the ship and only two of the four islands had sunny warm weather. Definitely not Cunard's problem! Our dinner in the Britannia every night was delightful. Sandy, our head waiter, was absolutely flawless in his presentations. He has many years experience with Cunard, and it shows! His assistant, Jacek, from Poland, was my favorite! He is young, eager and ready to go far in this world! What a smile! Our wine steward, Rao, was new on the job with this cruise, and learned his duties very quickly. Three out of the six at our table requested drinks with a little extra flair (blue cheese stuffed olives in their Manhattans and Martinis) and Rao came through! The food was delicious! We ate most of our meals in Britannia,and a few lunches in the Lido. The portions were just right, soups and entrees always hot and tasty. The desserts were spectacular! We had the same delightful tablemates at dinner every night, and sat with different people at breakfast and lunch. We saw all of the shows in the Royal Court Theater. Every one was professional and elegantly done. The costumes were amazing. Two shows featured John England, a pianist who "blew our sox off"! He played requests that passengers asked for during the trip. I do know that "As Time Goes By" will never sound as good as when he played it. My only complaint was that on a cruise to Hawaii, it would have been nice to be presented with a flower lei on landing at any one of the four islands. You could buy them after leaving the ship in the four ports, but that extra touch from Cunard wasn't there. There was no luau on board or offered in the tour packages on any of the islands. We had a wonderful vacation that was a year in the planning and flew by too quickly! I would sail on the "Queen Victoria" again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
To be able to go on a new Cunard ship, only a month after its maiden voyage, was a very exciting experience. Queen Elizabeth was everything one expects from Cunard and more ..... having experienced the QE2 and a trans-Atlantic voyage on ... Read More
To be able to go on a new Cunard ship, only a month after its maiden voyage, was a very exciting experience. Queen Elizabeth was everything one expects from Cunard and more ..... having experienced the QE2 and a trans-Atlantic voyage on the QM2, could Cunard offer better? My answer is without any shadow of a doubt, an outstanding "YES". The experience was somewhat short and sweet - 5 nights with a two-day stay in Amsterdam, a day in Zeebrugge and one in Cherbourg - but interesting and exciting at the same time. Parking in Southampton arranged by CPS was very efficient and a good start - no waiting, no problems. Embarkation was quick and efficient followed by lunch on board. On arrival at our balcony stateroom, our luggage had already been delivered. Leaving and arriving at ports in darkness is not very picturesque but leaving Southampton was somewhat enhanced by the city's lights. The English Channel is not the best water to sail but the QE took it in her stride on each occasion - the last time across from Cherbourg in high winds but the crossing was as smooth as one ever and the QE was greeted by one of HM's frigates which came alongside and fired a salute - very exciting. The QE experience was enhanced at dinner on each evening - the food was always so well presented - how do they maintain such standards on big ships at sea? The restaurant service - from Sheryllyn and Edward was the best yet - and Paco, our wine waiter was superb - but how could Real Madrid lose to Barcelona by five-nil - Paco was upset. Out and about on board was a pleasurable experience - the bars and cafes were welcoming - all the crew went the extra mile. In my experience, I would go so far as saying that overall this QE crew are the best ever! The shops were well stacked - no duty-free because we didn't venture outside the EU. The Golden Lion was pleasant - trivia quizzes were good - something for everyone. The entertainment from the ship's entertainers was very good - the guest comedian was the only disappointment - I thought he might be more suitable at a stag-night or a hen-party - few seemed to really enjoy his performance. Disembarkation was quick and efficient - the car was parked about 200 metres from the exit to the Terminal - and away we sped after an excellent new QE experience. Would I go again? Undoubtedly "YES". Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This is our first cruise on a Cunard ship. We have always been hesitate to make a reservation due to the "class distinction" that we have read about. We will discuss this later in the ... Read More
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This is our first cruise on a Cunard ship. We have always been hesitate to make a reservation due to the "class distinction" that we have read about. We will discuss this later in the review. This is approximately our 30th cruise in the last thirty years. We are in no way connected with the cruise or travel industry and make all of our travel arrangements independently. The Ship---The Cunard Queen Victoria is relatively new ( first voyage December 2007) and one will find it modern and elegant. The exterior may look like many other ships one has cruised on however the interior is very tastefully done. The company brags that this is part of the youngest fleet on the seas and this is certainly reflected with the interior. The ship the day we boarded was spotless and appeared well maintained. Later we will discuss individual; aspects of the ship. There are 990 cabins that can accommodate 1980 passengers. During our cruise of 12 days the cruise was very smooth. EMBARKATION—We embarked in Venice. In the booklet we received there was check in time listed as 1400, 1430 and 1500. The weather was bad and we had to check out of our hotel by 1200 so we proceeded to the ship by private water taxi. Believe me that is the way to arrive at your ship when in Venice. Luggage is taken at the hotel by the taxi operator and unloaded at the pier without you having to handle the baggage even once. The next time you will see the baggage is outside your stateroom. Now about check in. You have no doubt traveled enough by cruise ship to realize that check in time given you is not always precise. In our case we arrived at the check in pier around 1230 and after filling out a health form we were immediately ushered to a check in counter. The clerk could have cared less about the form we had completed earlier and in fact did not even look at the "e-ticket". He only wanted our name. After checking our passports and signed out credit card form we were given a number to wait to be called for boarding. We waited approximately 20 minutes and went aboard. The process was quick and professional. We went directly to our cabin on deck 5. The cabin was ready however our luggage had not arrived so the four of us headed for Lido for a lunch. Lunch time was uncrowded and was more than adequate. After an hour of so we proceeded to our cabin and to our delight our bags were waiting in the hallway. This has been an extremely good embarkation. You will be ask to surrender your passport which you will not receive back until a day or two before the end of the cruise. Retaining your passport is nothing new as the British were doing this at their hotels decades ago. Is it necessary now---I seriously doubt it however it does provide the cruise line with a sense of control over its passengers. You may encounter some problems in certain ports that you visit. For example in some situations when you exchange currency you will need your passport, otherwise they will not exchange money with you. This is also true in some case where the purchase is large such as the purchase of an expensive watch of jewelry. You may find the lines long on a ship of this size when they decide to return the passport and you pick it up. For almost 2000 passengers there was one line and two clerks. TIP—When boarding a ship always proceed as you know exactly where you are going. If you get lost , ask someone, just don't stop on the gangplank and ask a dozen questions, as there are others behind you waiting to board. It seems that everyone wants to be the first on board and naturally the first to disembark. It just isn't going to happen that way, so build in some patience into your schedule. THE CABIN---I could not believe the staff that referred to your stateroom or cabin as a room. They also must have considered this ship a boat. We were on deck five—mid ship. This is a large ship so sailing should be smooth, however we play the game as some others will and tried to be a cabin in mid-ship to make the ride as smooth as possible. If you travel agent tries to give you an alternate cabin he/she may not be doing their job very well. In this day and time of the internet you can often find out exactly which cabins are available and if you study the ship's layout, ship size, etc. you can come out a winner. Remember I wrote this is a fairly new ship, well the cabin we had certainly reflected this. The cabin was spotless. Nice towels, plenty of amenities in the bath, refrigerator, hair dryer, safe---you know the usual you fine aboard ship. The electrical outlets are particular nice. Recall when you had to carry a lot of adapters to get that charge battery charged or to use the electric razor. This cabin had lots of 100 and 220 volt outlets making recharging very easy. The carpet was very clean thus you don't mind walking around the cabin in your socks. The bedding was very good, however I still have problems with the single beds being pushed together to make a single king size bed. Seems like I always end up sliding toward the middle where the two beds join. The sheets were very good as was the duvet. The cabin took on an air of elegance. Not really large however with the balcony there was a reported 220sq ft. (I did not measure). Excellent lighting in the cabin and one actually had enough light to read by. Everything worked as it should in the bath. We had a small (perhaps 21 inch) flat screen TV. The TV set itself was of poor quality and thus the picture was not very good. The telephone has all those numbers on it such as programming in your own wake up calls automatically. The refrigerator is stocked with soft drinks and water. The prices are very reasonable with Cokes being only $1.95 per can. Our room had a complimentarily half bottle of Champagne waiting for us upon arrival. TIP----I provided a little extra touch for both my spouse and the couple traveling with us by ordering a dozen carnations before the start of the cruise. They were absolutely beautiful and even after a week looked great. When ordering through the ship be sure to remember it takes time to complete the orders thus it is never too early to order. I try to do this a couple of months in advance of the cruise date. LAUNDRY---Why so early to provide a write up on the laundry. Just because it was across the hallway from our cabin. There were three washers and three dryers, open from around 0730 to 2100. Use of the machines was free and the soap was also free. Getting a machine was a challenge as they were always busy with lots of passengers waiting. Remember—I said FREE---so that helps with the wait time. There was also a iron which appeared to be on continually throughout the day. Laundry service is next day after pick up un less you want to pay extra. $5 for a shirt unless expedited then it $7.50. Shorts and socks are $2. We have had better deals on laundry on other cruise lines. The service quality of the clothing upon return was about what you would receive at a laundry in the US. Nothing special. DINING----This is a two class society ship thus if the class distinction disturbs you because you are in the middle class you might want to consider another cruise line. While we discussed this subject often, after getting aboard it no longer mattered. There are some "snoots" in a group no matter when one travels. The aristocrats and the Sultans, the Kings/Queens and those other nobles apparently would naturally be entitled to dine at the Queens Grill and Princess Grill. Since I am not of Royalty I really don't know what they ate as it took a special elevator key to reach their deck. Oh well---I had to settle for the Britannia Restaurant. The four of us had an excellent table located at the far rear of the ship just in front of a large window. This early seating location was excellent. Our waiter and his helper were both very good. They worked hard to please us each evening. The food was okay however I would not be ordering such entrees back in Texas. Too much emphasis put on the name of the entrEe and the presentation rather than the actual quality of the food. On two different nights the fish entrees was soft and mushy, not exactly a reflection of quality. The beef dishes was hard to cut and even harder to chew. Don't get me wrong, the presentation looked great. For dinner you had to order all your courses including desert at one time. Portions are small however always well presented. One tomato and one avocado could serve 50 guests the way the cuts and presentation were may. Now some folks really like this type meal---me I like a steak and baked potatoes---now isn't that gross? On deck two there is Todd English's place where one can have dinner. The place looked nice and generally empty most nights. The cost was $30.00 per person to dine there. We were not optimistic that we would get any better food that what was being served at the Britannica, thus we did not dine any at Todd English's place---perhaps next time old chap! Most passengers have breakfast and lunch at the Lido. The area is broken down into numerous serving areas each with its own kind of food. There was a great pizza and pasta bar at midship. Always plenty of fresh fruit for both lunch and breakfast. Omelets, waffles and eggs cooked to order. The area was always very clean and service was excellent. These young menu and women all seemed to work hard to accommodate the passengers. On Deck 9 at the aft of the ship one will find the Lido Bar & Grill where you can get hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. You may find this an excellent change from the meals offered in the Britannica and on the Lido cafeteria style dining. The food was actually very good. SHOPPING---Like most cruise ships this ship has shopping at the Royal Arcade. There were some very competitive buys in perfume, leather goods and liquors. Sales are a common occurrence. BEAUTY SHOP -----My spouse seems to always locate and use the beauty shop. Service was good and the price reasonable. In addition she used the nail service in the same area. We did not use the spa service---an area where one can spend a lot of money in a short time. EMPIRE CASINO----This has to be one of the smallest casinos on the seas. Located on Deck two, there are enough slots, roulette and card games to keep one busy. They even have one cent slots. Remember this is an entertainment venue and not an area where one can make money. ROYAL ARCADE----This is shopping and as with most ships there is a small retail outlet where one can purchase from a limited selection of cloths, watches, jewelry, etc. There was a store selling drug items along with candy and a book store. They were nice---expect to pay full retail for most items. Just remember these purchases add to your weight for you place return back home and with that additional cost you may end up paying quite a bit for those extra items. Might I also mention those "duty free stores" you find at the departure of your flight at some ports. These are for the most part becoming high cost liquor and cigarette stores as the prices may be higher than your home town prices. For example the cost of perfume at duty free stores is much more than the cost of the same product aboard ship and in many cases that same product when on sale in the US is actually found at a better price. THE ROYAL THEATER----What a beautiful theater designed for the passenger's viewing without all the small cocktail tables that normally litter the theater area. The productions are what one can find at the college or back street venues. Singers are those that have in the past preformed at clubs or on other ships. Don't expect anything spectacular and you won't be disappointed. Surprisingly there was not one evening where the theater was completely full as there were always seats available at the start of each show. EARLY SEATING OR LATE SEATING----We normally opt for early seating however on this cruise we were rushed after shore tours, thus we noted many passengers had late seating reservations. In fact the late seating filled and there were no additional reservations. We suggest you check the times of your shore tours, decide if you would like to stay up late or retire early. All these should be factors, along with other facts, about your choice of dinner seating. DECK CHAIRS & SEATING----Really nice deck chairs on the cruise. Each has padded inserts and we never found an inadequate supply although we were on one of the last of the season sailings. INTERNET-----The pricing on the internet services is very reasonable compared to other cruise we have been on. Expect the service to be about the same---good on some days and not so many of the days. The internet manager was not found to be helpful thus if you have an issue plan on resolving it yourself. When I advised his I was having difficulty downloading even the New York Times front page, he remarked that I should just keep trying as it would eventually load. The bandwidth for this ship is apparently very narrow. The downloading of attachments has been blocked and the use of such service such as SKYPE has been blocked. I was able to connect from my stateroom on only one day with the rest of the time I had to go to the Internet room for a connection. The service at sea was very slow, sometimes taking 20 minutes to send an e-mail. There are several ship PCs and we always were able to use one when we tried. Many ports where we stopped had cafes with FREE internet service. The only problem was getting there before other passengers arrived. POOLS----One on the aft of deck nine and one in the mid section of the ship on deck 9. They were never full possibly due to the weather, temperature and the fact this is definitely a cruise composed of seniors. In side the stateroom was a couple of beach towels that could be used for the pool or deck chairs. Deck chairs were always available. YOUR FELLOW PASSENGERS-----This ship had about a third of the passengers from the United States followed by the UK and Australia. The remainder was truly a global mix. Many were seniors. Very few (perhaps less than a dozen) children were aboard. The ship's policies stress appropriate dress all over the ship. There write about "strict enforcement". Well maybe—maybe not. We saw many people that certainly did not have formal wear on during formal wear evenings. Even saw tennis shoes which according to the policy is strictly forbidden. Very few men had true formal wear and most had n ice suits or casual formal were such as a white jacket with dark trousers. Even the females tended not to be all that formal on formal nights. The trend away from such dress is everywhere and Cunard has failed to escape that march to a more relaxed and informal attire. I personally think the cruise line has gone somewhat overboard on their so called dress code. Too many formal nights and too many "elegant nights". While some are certainly in order there are too many on this cruise. I realize this just fits the personality of those aboard who believe most of us are "peasants" from another planet. Some might say "good morning" however looking in your direction must be forbidden. I have to put my two feet into the legs of my trousers to get them on---wonder how "they" do it? Suggestions----Say Good Morning or Good Day to everyone you meet on this ship. It will disgust the aristocrat however at the end of the day you will feel really good about all those "stuffed shirts" you met. TOURS ON SHORE----Cunard need to quickly resolve their shore tours issues. This was an area we found totally unacceptable and we will explain. Many tours originated from the Royal Theater where a Cunard person was to have been to pass out tour bus stickers and get the passengers to their bus. The person in charged was always late, floated around the area and frankly got little accomplished in his disorganized manor. He lover the microphone and made every attempt to be out early morning comedian which none of us found amusing. He just could not get an handle on organizations. Once the group ending up in the infirmary as they attempted to get off the ship and he was no where to be found although he was the one directly the group. We found some tours have lunch with them with lunches being all the way from excellent to very poor. There is really no way to know unless you have been on the exact tour before. One could find the exact opposite if the tour originated in the Queen's Room as they was well planned, orderly managed and the groups were all together. So you see Cunard can get it right! Shore tours in general are usually a "rip off" and I don't apologize for the statement. It is a money making operation for the cruise industry in general and the paying customers are treated no more than a herd of cattle. There are much better tours available on shore including private tours. The problem here though is the risk that is involved. Go with a ship's tours and the ship will wait if something unfortunate happens. Go with a private tour and you miss the ship's departure , then get ready to shell out some big dollars for the flight to the next port and even then you may not get out of town since more than likely the ship is holding your passport. On a private tour you can avoid the crowds, have personal attention, learn a lot more and dine for lunch at the restaurant of your choice. Just remember the risk involved. PURSER----We are among the very lucky passengers as we seem never to have problems with our last bill. TIP---Check on a regular basis to see if your charges are up to date and correct. Just ask the purser's office for a current copy. Usually the charges are very current and up to date. DAILY NEWS OR EVENTS----The ship provides both a daily news summary and daily events bulletin to your stateroom. The printing quality on the Queen Victoria is very poor. Some pages of our news was totally unreadable as the ink was too light. Watch for smeared ink on the slick paper daily bulletin as it was get on your hands and clothes. The English language in the bulletin is about as poor as my writing and language. Read carefully as we had two different times to arrive in port and the name of the port was listed as different locations. One never knows!!These were delivered nightly to your cabin. ORGANIZED SPORTS------The day of the real organized sports is fading from the cruise industry. Remember the days when you could go to the aft of the ship and skeet shoot. Those days are gone. There is now paddle tennis, ping pong and cards. Just kidding—there are no cards. SHIP TOURS-----Like organized sports the tours of the ship including the bridge and galley have but all disappeared in this day and time PHOTO GALLERY----I have written in the past and once again write in this review that the photo section of the ship a big money maker selling SNAPSHOTS. These are not professional portrait makers although they may try to sell you a large photo they label as a portrait. These are being shot with a camera like you and I carry on board and are being printed on printers like you and I have at home. The difference is they are may production people and wants they take and print is what they try to sell you. Forget the touch ups, the quality enhancement, they are just too busy to do this extra done by hand work. We noted the price of snapshots were $24.95 for what is actually a 5 X 7 photos on a slightly larger piece of photo paper. If you wasn't to pay those price , go ahead, however you are paying a lot for very little. Ay Ephesus there are young boys that have set up their own snapshot photo business. They take your photo while you are on tour, rush the memory card to a van where a printer waits to prints the images. These are taken back to the entrance of your bus and offered to you for approximately $5 per 5 X 7. In reality these pictures are worthless to these young men after you board the bus thus negotiations are always in order. I purchased my set for $2.50 each and got as good or better quality than those on the ship. DANCE ----The Queen's Room is very nice with a very large dance floor open every evening for your dance pleasure. There is also harp music and violin music in other venues aboard the ship. It's always interesting from a novice's standpoi8nt to be the Fred ASTAIR AND Ginger Roger's "want to be's". Even laughable at times and this dance floor was no exception. Look for the bright shiny dresses that are designed to get your attention as some couple no doubt want to be on Dancing With The Stars. For a great view there is the club on Deck 10 forward. BARS---There is the Queens Room, the Champagne Bar and the Chart Room---all elegant and a nice place to relax with a drink. The service was excellent. Then you will find the Golden Lion Pub and Dixieland jazz. At the Hemispheres there was DJ Graham & Changez. You can also find the Commodore Club, the Midship's Lounge and Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. The PLAY ZONE---This is the children's area located on Deck 10. Although we never saw any children in this playa re it is very nice. The Zone is in the same immediate area and is for the pre-teen. There were computers and other such items for entertainment. CARD ROOM---One of the nicest card room on any ship. Very adequate for this ship and used by a large host of passengers. The pale is well lighted and elegance that matches others rooms in that area. An area that most passengers try to avoid is the MEDICAL CENTER located on Deck A. The area was clearly marked and very clean. We did not accommodate them with a visit however. ART Gallery---Like many large cruise ships there is an art gallery which sells , although they call it an auction, "pictures" and "paintings". Cunard's Fine Arts located deck 3 B stairway. FLORIST---Forgot to order those special flowers for a special passengers. Don't worry -just dial the florist or visit the Purser's Office to place an on board order. LIBRARY---This ship has the best library we have ever encountered aboard a cruise ship. Located on Decks 2 & 3, there are hundreds and hundreds of books that can be checked out. Even if you are not a reader visit this library. It is one of a kind. TELEPHONE SERVICE---As you are aware the telephone service aboard a cruise ship is very expensive. In order to avoid these expensive charges make arrangements with your carrier before you leave home by purchasing the international roaming service where the per minute calls can be reduced substantially. This calling will only work in port and then not at all hours. For example the ship turned their service on about an hour before we left the post at Santorini, this our phone no longer connected with our provider but rather with the more expensive ship service. Almost forgot the Cigar Room. The reason we never saw it open but could smell the smoke. Located on Deck 10. DISEMBARKATION------Well we just learned we are assigned to disembark at 0945. We have a tour guide meeting us in Rome at 0900. Looks like we will be late. We were assigned cream baggage tags and according to the purser's office cannot change this unless we agree to carry off all our baggage ourselves. That is not going to happen—thus we need to call Bruno and advise his we will be a little late. SUMMARY---This is a very nice and elegant ship. Would we travel on the Queen Victoria again? There is far too much formality for us. We are beyond the "dress up" and "tuxedo" status every night. Done that for years and now find since we retired, we would have a relaxed cruise. While the ship is really nice and most elegant, we more than likely will drop down a notch and go with a cruise line with less formality, less rigidness with a little more friendliness from the staff. This might very well be the exact cruise for you or perhaps you might want to try Cunard at least once. Expect to pay a little more as bargain cruise rates may be difficult to find. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
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