We sailed Cunard Queen Victoria for my mother's 80th birthday. We are a family of 10. Embarkation was very easy. We were on the ship by 1:30. We had a split of champagne on ice waiting for us in our balcony cabin. My husband and 13 year old son were also in the cabin. Gil, our steward promptly introduced himself, pointing out the button on the phone, which went directly to him. Gil was quiet but always had our room in order and at our beck and call, but we only called on him twice. In my mind, the perfect steward. Sojin and Bryant were our waiter and assistant. They were terrific all week, and couldn't do enough for us.
Our big surprise was the sommelier. We cruise frequently, and the sommelier is generally the least friendly, stuffiest person on the ship. Yuric was fantastic. He was friendly, knowledgeable, and not full of himself. He will go far, whatever he does. I personally did not attend any of the shows, but the rest of my family did, every night. From what I heard, the comedian was hilarious, but the rest was a mixed bag. The Captain's Cocktail Party was fun and they were very generous with the bubbly. Our ship consisted mostly of Brtis. I was in the casino the first night and the lady next to me, who was English, exclaimed, "Oh! You are American! I am so happy. We haven't had any Americans on the ship all week." I found, with the exception of one couple, who never smiled or engaged, not even a "Good morning" in the elevator, all the passengers were delightful and friendly. I am not a huge mingler, but I don't ignore a person when they wish me a good morning or evening.
The ship never seemed crowded. This made the cruise worth every penny. How they manage this is beyond me, but just about every cruise I have been on in America, the ship, especially the buffet area, always seems over run with ill-mannered passengers. Which brings me to the buffet. Typically I do not partake in a buffet. The staff kept the Lido buffet in impeccable condition. Made to order sandwiches, pizza, pasta and eggs, and everything serving table was spotless. Although I love old school, the food in the dining room was just ok. They served some of my favorites, like dessert soufflés and crepe suzette, but they fell short. The baked Alaska, however, was one of their better desserts. I think they could have also offered some variety, ethnically. How about Italian night?
I attended the wine tasting. We tasted 12 different wines from 6 regions. I enjoyed the wines but the process needs improving. I have participated in wine tastings on other ships. We were seated at a table with several wine glasses, and servers come around and pour. Cunard just had us waiting in lines at tables and milling about, rather disorganized. also, I think they could have offered different wine glasses for each wine, or at lest for the whites and reds.
My son and nephew registered for the teen club, but only attended once. They said the club was geared toward younger kids. We appreciated the complimentary shuttles into the town center, when necessary. Debarkation was swift, however, they herded us into a canvas tent and it was a scorching hot day. I worried my mother might faint. Several in my party commented that like all cruises, the crew is smiling and accommodating during embarkation and during the cruise, and they all seem to turn on debarkation day. That is a shame, but Cunard is still my favorite cruise and we cruise a lot.