We have a special fondness for the old QE II and so we were a little apprehensive about how we would feel about the Queen Victoria. Whilst the QE II remains our favorite the Queen Victoria runs a respectable second. By todays standards I would class it as a medium size ship (around 2000 passengers I think) which is just right for us.
The size of our cabin was adequate rather than generous and although my wife felt that there was a lack of drawer space we had no trouble storing our two weeks worth of clothing and stashing our luggage out of sight. Overall it was clean and comfortable.
The general atmosphere of the ship was modern with a hint of olde worlde. The public rooms were light and airy and as a general rule never felt overcrowded. There were plenty of places to sit and have a quiet drink or read (or both). But there were alternatives that offered a more lively atmosphere. Our favorite was the Commodore Club on deck 10 at the front of the ship that gave us a panoramic view. The theatre was the best we have encountered on any cruise liner with boxes, at extra cost, if you so wished. However we were told by a couple that had taken a box one night that the glass front caused a reflection that hindered their enjoyment of the show.
On the subject of shows, those on offer varied in quality. Cunard's resident singers, two males and two females, were excellent. All four of West End quality I would say. The resident dancers were also very good. The two comedians (two shows each) were enjoyable but the Beatles tribute group was pretty awful.
The food in the Britannia restaurant was very good without being spectacular. We never had any problems finding something on the menu that was appealing to us and portions were just enough. The Lido offered alternative buffet dining that was varied and enticing. The serving platters were frequently replenished with freshly cooked food and tables were quickly cleared and cleaned by the staff. Even at busy times we were always able to find a table. We also ate one evening at the Todd English restaurant at extra cost. The food and service there was first class but the restaurant lacked atmosphere because of the lack of clientele (one other couple and a group of 4 the night we were there), a factor that we noticed whenever we peered into the restaurant during the course of the voyage. Afternoon tea is a Cunard tradition that is done very well. We looked forward to this and were not disappointed.
The crew/staff on the ship were, without exception, brilliant. Friendly, smiling, helpful and efficient, they were all an absolute credit to Cunard and helped make our cruise an extremely enjoyable experience.
My main criticism of this cruise were the prices charged, particularly for drinks. The cheapest bottle of wine on the restaurant menu was around US$30 (plus 15% service charge) and there were comparatively few at this price. A bottle of water was US$3.50.
There were three ports of call that are not listed in the 'Port Review' section of the cruise critic form so I will mention them here:-
a)Malaga (Spain). We chose to do our own thing here rather than go on an excursion. We were pleasantly surprised by the town. It was easy to stroll around with a very pleasant park close to the port area and an interesting roman ruin in the town centre.
b) Cephalonia (Greece). We went on the best of Cephalonia tour here and were glad that we did because passengers that chose to do their own thing in the port said that there was nothing there (a Greek Blackpool was one description). The tour included a drive to the north of the island where we stopped off at a lovely little fishing village in the north of the island. Getting there involved driving along roads with steep drops to the ocean but the reward was spectacular views. We also visited a cave where the 'roof' had fallen in many years ago to create a small lake. The tour included a short rowing boat ride on the lake.
c)Korcula (Croatia) We did our own thing here. Korkula is a smaller version of Dubrovnik and was perhaps our favorite of all the destinations. A myriad of small bustling streets that can be comfortably covered in a couple hours. And we still had time to have an al fresco meal in a restaurant that overlooked the Adriatic. We took a chance both here and in Dubrovnik by not taking any local currency with us. In fact we found that most souvenir shops and bars/restaurants were happy to take Euros.
We were in a balcony cabin on deck 6 (6129). It was situated mid ships so that any roll due rough seas would be minimised. It was comfortable with a two seater settee and enough space for our two weeks worth of clothes, although my wife complained of lack of drawer space. The balcony was fairly small, but large enough, with a glass fronted barrier. It was in a generally quiet location although people moving the table/chairs on the next door balconies made a scraping sound that could occasionally be a little irritating if we were relaxing on our balcony. Perhaps rubber feet on these items of furniture would have helped.
We got to Corfu town fairly early in the morning and were a little underwhelmed. The town seemed uncared for and a bit seedy. We walked to the castle at one end of the town and it's condition reflected our impression of the rest of the town. On our walk back to the ship the streets were beginning to fill up and the place became a little more interesting but I would not want to visit again. On the other hand people who took tours of the island raved about its beauty and so perhaps an excursion would be the best best for this port of call.
We took the i pod walking tour but this was not entirely successful. The bright sunlight made it difficult to read the i pod screen so it was difficult to make the right menu choices. In the end we gave up and did our own thing and most of our time was spent walking the walls which gave us a series of spectacular views. Well worth doing if you have the energy to climb the stairs. There is a charge (around Â£7.50) for doing this and this can only be paid in local currency. But credit cards are accepted.View All 31 Cavtat Walking Tour Reviews
Burano, where we were shown how the local lace products were made, was delightful. Much less crowded than Venice with pretty pastel coloured houses alongside a series of canals. Well worth a visit if you have already seen as much of Venice as you want.View All 38 Burano Island Reviews
Having been to Venice twice before we opted for the Murano and Burano tour. In Murano we were treated to a brief explanation and demonstration of the production of Murano glass and then onto the inevitable gift shop. We did not have a great deal of time left to look around the town before we were off to Burano.View All 63 Murano Island Reviews
Unfortunately, because of a damaged propeller, the ship was late in arriving and so our booked Sherry and Royal Horse training tour was cancelled. We switched to the picturesque Cadiz and Flamenco tour instead. This involved a short ride around the town stopping of a lovely beach for a photo opportunity before walking to a local bar for a Flamenco demonstration. This was interesting but perhaps went on a tad too longView All 8 Flamenco Walking Tour Reviews