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It was afternoon tea in the elegant Queen’s Room that proved my undoing. As white-gloved waiters poured me my cup of piping hot tea and tempted me with scones and cream, I knew I had found my spiritual home. I was in heaven. And 12 days later I was six pounds heavier. ACCOMMODATION My cabin was on Deck 2, nicely placed for the theatre, the Britannia restaurant and the all-important Queen’s Room. It was also handy for the library and just one deck above the Purser’s Desk, meaning that on port days it was a short walk to the gangway. On the other hand, on warm sunny days (and we had many) the cabin was some distance from the outside decks on 9 and 10, particularly if you avoid lifts and climb the stairs as I do in a bid to fight the flab. (And look what good it did me!) The room itself was bright and clean with lots of wardrobe space and a generous helping of drawers. It also had Noe, a friendly and efficient steward who did a wonderful job and was on hand to respond to special requests. Champagne flutes to share a bottle with friends? They were in my fridge within the hour. THE PORTS Cruising the coastline of Spain and Portugal in November can be risky in terms of the weather. Biscay was choppy and La Coruna, our first port, was cold and wet as we came alongside. From then on, however, it was sunshine all the way. Cadiz is a favourite of mine with the old town an easy stroll from the terminal. For those who like history the warren of narrow streets is delightful with many opening into sunny squares lined with shops and cafés (about €1,60 for a coffee). The Plaza de la Catedral is the grandest of them all and it is where you will find both the cathedral and the baroque Santiago church. Behind the cathedral is the seafront and promenade, a great place for people-watching. Malaga is impressive too and the shuttle buses take guests as far as the port gates, across the road from the cathedral - once an imposing fortress as well as a place of worship - and the Picasso Museum. For those with the energy, there are seafront walks and the shopping arcade with its sweep of Christmas decorations proved popular. I enjoy buying things in Spain. Where in the UK would you find tiny shops selling only penknives and scissors, or gloves and scarves, trading next to multinational stores? Cartagena is quiet by comparison. The pedestrianised shopping area is busy from midday onwards but explore the back streets and you will find the locals going about their business in near-deserted streets. Also only five minutes’ walk away is the amphitheatre that is being excavated and remodelled with the help of EU funding. Whenever I explore Lisbon’s back streets busy with traditional trams rattling by, it is easy to imagine the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that must have pervaded the city during WW2 when it offered a gateway to freedom for escaping PoWs. As with every port, Cunard offers a range of tours but perhaps Lisbon is one place where just a tram ride is enough to experience the city’s history and magnificent public buildings. But make time to pause at a café to enjoy a Pastel da Nata, Portugal’s delicious flaky pastry custard tart. THE FOOD For me, food is central to the success of a cruise holiday and executive chef Chitra Kunwar deserves five stars for delivering such high standards of cuisine every day. I dined on first sitting and enjoyed beef of real quality. Whether sirloin, fillet medallions or tenderloin, the meat was always tender and served exactly as requested. The fish was equally good, my favourite being the lemon sole goujons – translucent, moist and hot. Of the desserts, the brûlées and crumbles went down well on my table and extra scoops of ice cream added to the enjoyment. Our waiter, Reggie, was a true professional. Quietly courteous and good-humoured, we soon learned to respect his recommendations. In the Lido, the serveries were kept well stocked and the range of food on offer was impressive including, one lunchtime, the choice of generous helpings of lobster claws. With quite a few German passengers on board, there was an even wider choice and at breakfast I made the most of the opportunity to try some of the Continental breads and pastries. For the best coffee on board, my prize goes to the Chart Room on Deck 2 with its comfy armchairs and sofas. Here you can enjoy an Illy flat white for just under $5, including service, and during the morning there are also doughnuts and muffins available at no charge. From midday if you want to miss out on a more substantial lunch, the Chart Room offers light bites, my favourite being the seafood platter. ACTIVITIES There is an almost bewildering array of activities organised for passengers and my advice to those who haven’t cruised before is to study the Daily Programme, delivered to staterooms each evening, and plan your priorities for the day ahead. The shows in the Royal Court Theatre are always popular (two each evening) and during the day the theatre is the venue for guest speakers. On port days the theatre becomes an afternoon cinema. Of all the films, the biggest audiences were for ‘Mama Mia! Here We Go Again’ and ‘Darkest hour’. Not that I was there; I prefer theatre. The tribute band ‘Walk Like A Man’ reprised songs of The Four Seasons and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Each sea day art classes were held in a corner of the Britannia restaurant and both daily sessions were well attended. No wonder, because the art teacher on this cruise was Chris Tatam from North Wales and he did a wonderful job guiding and encouraging us to explore new techniques. His enthusiasm for art in all its forms as much as for teaching made the art classes unmissable. An added bonus is that Cunard sells packs of materials for $35 – palette, brushes, paints, pads of quality art paper – which I know from experience would cost almost double in UK shops. A bargain, so no excuse for not having a go! WORTH BOOKING? Definitely. Queen Victoria’s rich mahogany, polished brass and handsome art deco flourishes to be found at every turn create a stunning environment, but even more memorable is the commitment and hard work of the ship’s company. Whether it was James Cusick, the Hotel General Manager who oversees the work of several hundred officers and crew, making time to pause for a chat, or the cheerfulness of junior housekeeping assistants as they dusted and polished, everyone I met impressed me with their determination to make this cruise a success. No surprise, then, that I decided to book another before disembarking. But next time, fewer scones!

Hats Off to the Ship's Company

Queen Victoria Cruise Review by David George, Chester

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
It was afternoon tea in the elegant Queen’s Room that proved my undoing. As white-gloved waiters poured me my cup of piping hot tea and tempted me with scones and cream, I knew I had found my spiritual home. I was in heaven. And 12 days later I was six pounds heavier.

ACCOMMODATION

My cabin was on Deck 2, nicely placed for the theatre, the Britannia restaurant and the all-important Queen’s Room. It was also handy for the library and just one deck above the Purser’s Desk, meaning that on port days it was a short walk to the gangway. On the other hand, on warm sunny days (and we had many) the cabin was some distance from the outside decks on 9 and 10, particularly if you avoid lifts and climb the stairs as I do in a bid to fight the flab. (And look what good it did me!) The room itself was bright and clean with lots of wardrobe space and a generous helping of drawers. It also had Noe, a friendly and efficient steward who did a wonderful job and was on hand to respond to special requests. Champagne flutes to share a bottle with friends? They were in my fridge within the hour.

THE PORTS

Cruising the coastline of Spain and Portugal in November can be risky in terms of the weather. Biscay was choppy and La Coruna, our first port, was cold and wet as we came alongside. From then on, however, it was sunshine all the way. Cadiz is a favourite of mine with the old town an easy stroll from the terminal. For those who like history the warren of narrow streets is delightful with many opening into sunny squares lined with shops and cafés (about €1,60 for a coffee). The Plaza de la Catedral is the grandest of them all and it is where you will find both the cathedral and the baroque Santiago church. Behind the cathedral is the seafront and promenade, a great place for people-watching.

Malaga is impressive too and the shuttle buses take guests as far as the port gates, across the road from the cathedral - once an imposing fortress as well as a place of worship - and the Picasso Museum. For those with the energy, there are seafront walks and the shopping arcade with its sweep of Christmas decorations proved popular. I enjoy buying things in Spain. Where in the UK would you find tiny shops selling only penknives and scissors, or gloves and scarves, trading next to multinational stores?

Cartagena is quiet by comparison. The pedestrianised shopping area is busy from midday onwards but explore the back streets and you will find the locals going about their business in near-deserted streets. Also only five minutes’ walk away is the amphitheatre that is being excavated and remodelled with the help of EU funding.

Whenever I explore Lisbon’s back streets busy with traditional trams rattling by, it is easy to imagine the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that must have pervaded the city during WW2 when it offered a gateway to freedom for escaping PoWs. As with every port, Cunard offers a range of tours but perhaps Lisbon is one place where just a tram ride is enough to experience the city’s history and magnificent public buildings. But make time to pause at a café to enjoy a Pastel da Nata, Portugal’s delicious flaky pastry custard tart.

THE FOOD

For me, food is central to the success of a cruise holiday and executive chef Chitra Kunwar deserves five stars for delivering such high standards of cuisine every day.

I dined on first sitting and enjoyed beef of real quality. Whether sirloin, fillet medallions or tenderloin, the meat was always tender and served exactly as requested. The fish was equally good, my favourite being the lemon sole goujons – translucent, moist and hot. Of the desserts, the brûlées and crumbles went down well on my table and extra scoops of ice cream added to the enjoyment. Our waiter, Reggie, was a true professional. Quietly courteous and good-humoured, we soon learned to respect his recommendations. In the Lido, the serveries were kept well stocked and the range of food on offer was impressive including, one lunchtime, the choice of generous helpings of lobster claws. With quite a few German passengers on board, there was an even wider choice and at breakfast I made the most of the opportunity to try some of the Continental breads and pastries.

For the best coffee on board, my prize goes to the Chart Room on Deck 2 with its comfy armchairs and sofas. Here you can enjoy an Illy flat white for just under $5, including service, and during the morning there are also doughnuts and muffins available at no charge. From midday if you want to miss out on a more substantial lunch, the Chart Room offers light bites, my favourite being the seafood platter.

ACTIVITIES

There is an almost bewildering array of activities organised for passengers and my advice to those who haven’t cruised before is to study the Daily Programme, delivered to staterooms each evening, and plan your priorities for the day ahead.

The shows in the Royal Court Theatre are always popular (two each evening) and during the day the theatre is the venue for guest speakers. On port days the theatre becomes an afternoon cinema. Of all the films, the biggest audiences were for ‘Mama Mia! Here We Go Again’ and ‘Darkest hour’. Not that I was there; I prefer theatre. The tribute band ‘Walk Like A Man’ reprised songs of The Four Seasons and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.

Each sea day art classes were held in a corner of the Britannia restaurant and both daily sessions were well attended. No wonder, because the art teacher on this cruise was Chris Tatam from North Wales and he did a wonderful job guiding and encouraging us to explore new techniques. His enthusiasm for art in all its forms as much as for teaching made the art classes unmissable. An added bonus is that Cunard sells packs of materials for $35 – palette, brushes, paints, pads of quality art paper – which I know from experience would cost almost double in UK shops. A bargain, so no excuse for not having a go!

WORTH BOOKING?

Definitely. Queen Victoria’s rich mahogany, polished brass and handsome art deco flourishes to be found at every turn create a stunning environment, but even more memorable is the commitment and hard work of the ship’s company. Whether it was James Cusick, the Hotel General Manager who oversees the work of several hundred officers and crew, making time to pause for a chat, or the cheerfulness of junior housekeeping assistants as they dusted and polished, everyone I met impressed me with their determination to make this cruise a success. No surprise, then, that I decided to book another before disembarking. But next time, fewer scones!
David George, Chester’s Full Rating Summary
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