This 14 night voyage is my 13th cruise with Cunard and it is a few years since I have written a review. However, as this cruise was one of Cunard’s ‘special event’ and themed voyages and the longest single cruise I have done, I think its time to share my thoughts again. At only 26 and 29 years old my husband and I are quite a bit younger than the stereotype Cunard passenger, however we enjoy the ambiance; dressing for dinner; the formality and the tranquility that a Cunard voyage provides. Indeed, with the addition of options such as the Gin & Fizz Bar Cunard is very much on trend and I feel many of my own generation are missing out.
Embarkation and disembarkation was efficient and painless; in 13 cruises we have never had a bad experience in this area. We were on board by 11.30am.
This cruise was the 2019 Voyage du Vin with guest speakers including Oz Clarke. We enjoyed a conversation with him and Cunard's Beverage Manager in the Commodore Club one night; they were engaging and approachable. There were a series of wine themed talks and events and overall, these made a pleasant addition to the Mediterranean itinerary. Many of the events were at an additional cost but those that we partook in were worth the additional spend. We are very interested in wine; it is a stroke of luck that this cruise was made the Voyage du Vin after we booked it. We would certainly consider booking a themed cruise again after the experience.
This was our first time on Queen Victoria in nearly 4 years with Queen Elizabeth being our favourite ship. I was very excited to see her after her major refit a couple of years ago. The extra and more varied seating options on deck are a welcome addition and the Britannia Club restaurants looks very stylish and comfortable. I have already mentioned the Gin & Fizz Bar; we spent a lot of time here in the evenings. It is a new and innovative concept with an exceptional range of cocktails to complement the wide range of gins and sparkling wines. The move towards specific menus in specific venues around the ship adds variety and choice and is preferable to me to the generic bar menu that existed when we first travelled with Cunard. I would particularly recommend The Mary Rose cocktail. Bar prices are frequently mentioned in these reviews. I have no issue with Cunard’s prices; they are not dissimilar to London bar prices or indeed bar prices at a more average bar elsewhere in the UK. And remember Cunard use larger U.S. measures. The variety of canapes and nibbles served with drinks continues to impress again especially in the midships Gin & Fizz Bar.
The food and service in the Britannia Restaurant was generally good throughout. There were some surprisingly good dishes such as ravioli with salmon caviar and some more average dishes. My lobster was a little tough one evening but was still very nice. Overall the food was pleasing, and we ate there all but one nights. We normally dine in the Verandah some nights however I am still of the opinion the Steakhouse concept is just not in keeping with the Cunard brand; we tried it QM2 and hated it feeling that it represented a major reduction in standards compared to the old Verandah menu. That said, I don’t eat beef and love elegant French cuisine. We didn’t try the Verandah this time.
I feel that service aboard was very good; it wasn’t outstanding, just consistently good and reliable. Our cabin steward was faultless and the purser’s desk quick and efficient. Occasionally the sommelier was a bit slow in the restaurant or drinks took a while to come in bars at busy periods. Perhaps a couple of extra sommeliers or bar waiters in those areas would have improved this, but it really wasn’t a major issue and I am picky about service. It was interesting talking to other guests though that have travelled with different lines and feel that Cunard’s service is always better.
We took several Cunard shore excursions for ease and peace of mind. We found all of them good value for money. We could possibly have done something similar ourselves for less but the avoidance of hassle and not having to worry about getting back to the ship was worth the additional expense of booking an excursion. The wine themed tour with tasting whilst in Vigo, where we visited the Albarino wine region was particularly good; it felt authentic with almost free flowing tasting and plentiful nibbles with the wine!
There were a few niggles such as the air conditioning in our room not being very good; it was never so bad we actually got around to complaining so I can’t hold that against them. The Royal Court Theatre Vocalists were not great but the dancers were good. The hydrotherapy pool jets intermittently didn’t work in the first half of the cruise and the showers were cold, and indeed one morning the pool was empty. What was more surprising was that the spa staff didn’t know it was empty until we told them! Each time we mentioned an issue however it was fixed. We ate Alfresco one night for a small cover charge; the food was good and would have made a lovely change being able to watch a Mediterranean sunset had they not started jet washing and buffing the deck whilst we were eating. Obviously, this destroyed the ambiance. The maitre’d appreciated this and we were not charged. Clearly this was a communication issue between departmental managers.
Despite these little problems I would give this voyage 4.5/5 stars overall. We had a wonderful time and I would happily book a similar voyage again. The combination of good food, good drinks, good service and excellent weather has made another memorable cruise. I can now start counting down the days until my next cruise of QE next year.
A few notes regarding the ports of call. Vigo, Palma and Barcelona were all interesting and pleasant. In La Spezia we went to Florence and were disappointed; far too busy and polluted to properly explore its' history. In Cannes we went to Monaco. we absolutely loved Monaco; despite it being pricey I would recommend Cafe de Paris for lunch especially the profiteroles dessert. The Gothic quarter of Barcelona was very interesting and I highly recommend the little wine bar opposite Santa Maria del Mar. Finally Gibraltar was good; I recommend walking the Mediterranean Steps if able as it affords excellent views even when a bit cloudy.
Good Britannia balcony cabin with slightly deeper balcony being on deck 4; this does mean it is slightly overlooked when started at the the rail but gives a little more space.
Excellent tour; very hospitable hosts with near free-flowing tastings and nibbles.View All 9 Wine Tasting Reviews
Another excellent tour; excellent wine tasting. Very hospitable and authentic experience.View All 21 Wine Tasting Reviews
Cant comment on La Spezia as we went to Florence. Far too busy, polluted and graffiti everywhere. Would recommend Lucca instead as heard good reviews.
Monaco is a beautiful and atmospheric place. Extremely clean, no litter at all and feels very safe.View All 61 Monaco & Monte Carlo Reviews
Interesting Gothic quarter but be careful of pick pockets. Feels very touristy elsewhere.
Easy way to walk the Med. Steps with everything arranged and a very informative guide. Ideal when only in Gib. for half a day.View All undefined undefined Reviews