First, as always, was the embarkment procedure. It is usually a smooth experience (this is my third trip on the Queen Victoria), however, on this occasion, not everything was plain sailing. Unfortunately, there was a technical error, and this subsequently caused a delay.
Neverthless, once we made it on board, we found our luggage to be waiting for us, inside the immaculate cabin. From our room, we went straight to the Lido, and it was extremely busy, but the food was still kept at a good standard (unlike the burger-bar). As a vegetarian, I was always looking out for my options, and I was pleased by the array of nice salads. However, there was few veggie hot options, all except the tasteless bean casserole... which was recycled day-in and day-out.
The Lido breakfast also fine, for there was a clear variety of well-prepared dishes. Despite this praise, the coffee served was really unpleasant. Likewise, I was pleased with the Britannia (evening) dining experience, since the service was excellent and the menu choices were great.
The evening entertainment was not as strong, as compared to past performances. The Cunard Dancers do not seem to be the team, at least not those I have seen in the past. Similarly, many of the new acts were not to our taste, but we very much enjoyed the fantastic violinist and the clever comedian. Nonetheless, the best thing of all was a total surprise! On our voyage were we joined by Kathleen Turner. We attended her Q&A, and found her be extremely entertaining. Later in the cruise, we were honoured to be able to see her new show, ‘Finding My Voice’, which was a joy to watch.
During the evening, we loved the gin bar. My partner had plenty of delicious cocktails to choose from, and the knowledgable bar-man was able to give some superb advice. I am not a gin-drinker myself, but I very much enjoyed the fizzy from New Zealand (Cloudy Bay). The alternatives venues were also fine: The Golden Lion with its fun quizzes, and the Commadore club with its soft jazz and cosy atmosphere.
The improvements on the Queen Victoria, were really quite amazing, especially the back pool area. There is now ample comfortable seating around, and the Wintergarden peaceful environment is lovely, unless the football was on!
Our first port was Rochelle, France. It had some interesting historic buildings, and a marina, but it was still setting up for the tourist season. On the whole, it is a nice little place, but it is not a particularly impressive destination.
Our second port was Bilbao, Spain. It is a lovely place, but it absolutely hammered down with rain, so we opted for a indoors option: The Guggenheim Museum. We didn’t really understand the modern-art on display, so it receives a mixed review from us.
Our third port was Gijión, Spain. From our previous experience this isn’t our favourite port in the world, so we arranged a trip with Cunard: Enchanting Oviedo. Although the tour guide was excellent, it was not what we were expecting. First, we visited a 9th century church. It had amazing views from the top, but note that the walk-up is steep. Second, we visited a Cathedral, where we were lectured on the story of Jesus, for over two hours! For a religious family this could serve as very interesting, but for a non-religious family this could end up being quite tiresome (we belonged to the latter group). The next place on the tour was a quaint pub. Although we did not venture indoors, we sat outside in the beautiful courtyard, where we tried some extraordinary tapas and cider. In all, the tour took 4.5 hours. The downside was that we expected to see more of Oviedo, rather than the interior of the Cathedral. On a side-note, there was an incident/traffic collision with the bus, but the tour-guide was excellent in sorting this problem out quickly.
The port of call was Guernsey. To our surprise, this was our favourite port of all. We wondered up to Candie Gardens, which were divinely scenic. Whilst there we stopped for a wonderful cup of coffee, at the Café Victoria. From this point, you can spot an interesting tower, which is not too far away. It turned out to be the Victoria Tower, which was built in 1846, to commemorate the surprise visit of Queen Victoria to Guernsey. A guide, from another tour, told us that if we went to the museum they would give us a key. We so we did exactly that and enjoyed the incredible sites. Nearby, the tower has an interesting graveyard, which will take you back down to Candie Gardens. We then strolled around enjoying the peaceful town area. It is definitely worth a visit on your holidays.
Early disembarkment, where one carries their own luggage, was really easy and prompt. Moreover, the Airlynx Cruise Parking, was great for our needs.
See above, very good overall.
One issue: When the sofa-bed is in use, it is very difficult to get out onto the balcony. If you have a third person occupying the bed, then anything on the other side of it (including the tea or coffee station) is obstructed; unless one climbs over the bed itself.