What a wonderful experience: Queen Victoria Cruise Review by Christopher Martin

Queen Victoria 5
Christopher Martin

Overall Member Rating

What a wonderful experience

Sail Date: August 2011
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Southampton
Days at sea - so full of things to do - there just aren't enough hours in the day. Don't misunderstand me it's all VERY relaxing, but between bouts of eating splendid food, the activities available on board are so varied, there's always something for you to engage with that suits your tastes. From talks on wartime events, thru classical concerts, modern music, line dancing, superb theatre entertainment; the list is extensive. All hosted by professionals, well versed in their own discipline.

Then there's the hotel staff who look after one's well being - beautifully serviced staterooms, restaurants, bars - in fact every on- board facility. What goes on 'behind the scenes' - which you never see - for you to receive such excellent care must be a powerhouse of activity. A toast to the kitchen staff, the laundry, and of course the ship's crew, who steer you away from a possible rainstorm - just for your comfort. How good is that ?

Only one real complaint - due to security More considerations - the really interesting parts of the vessel are out of bounds. i.e. the bridge and the engine room - I'd love to have seen them both 'in action'. I've seen both on many vessels during refit, but never at sea. A small disappointment.

Then there's the port visits. Whether you take a well organised excursion, or just idle your way through the port itself, taking in the local flavour - they are the highlights of the cruise. And to end up in Venice - arriving by sea - is something everyone should experience. All in all, I'll remember it for a very long time. Less

Published 09/02/11

Cabin review: BC6181 Balcony

I like the word cabin - it's more friendly and homely than 'stateroom'. Our cabin was clean, very well serviced, and quite large enough for 2 - the balcony (veranda) also. The en-suite module could have been a little larger, with some more discreet storage (cupboards ?) for toiletries etc. As it was the vanity unit top was cluttered with all our bits & pieces. The air conditioning was excellent, and QUIET, which is not always the case on cruise ships. One small downside - the vacuum toilet system. Being an engineering designer who works on ships, I recognised immediately the loud knocking a loose pipe makes against the adjacent steel structure, every time someone on the deck above 'flushed' their toilet. No problem during the day - but can give you a severe shock when trying to, or are asleep. Needs sorting on the next refit.

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Port and Shore Excursions

A most enjoyable, picturesque and fascinating old town - even though the temperature was approaching 40 deg C. A point to be aware of: just be careful when being engaged by the many street restaurant 'touts'. What they offer, and what you receive may be somewhat different in expectation. Make sure you both understand what you will be served, and how much it will cost BEFORE you order. Never the less, there's some interesting shopping and some lovely scenery to behold.

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The old town here is a must. Walk the walls for a splendid bird's eye view of the town, its streets and harbour. Then walk the streets, not missing the quiet alleyways between them. There are some interesting little shops & cafes tucked away - and they are a lot cheaper than those on the 'front line' But in reality, the place is NOT that expensive.

Having visited the old town - take the cable car to the top of the mountain on the landward side and marvel at the view. A superb experience. Whilst there, just ponder at the mindless shelling of the beautiful town from that vantage point in the war during the 90's, and appreciate how much has been done to revitalise the shelled buildings. It really needs more than one day to appreciate it all, at a more leisurely pace.

A return visit is a must. One piece of advice - go early/late season - the place was heaving during August and VERY hot. But you have to congratulate the locals - their transportation of masses of people to and from the ships (4 cruise ships in that day) was excellent. There were queues, but again dealt with well, and little time was lost in them.

What can one say about Venice. A must for everyone. So much to see around every corner. Superb architecture everywhere. The experience of walking, sitting in the canal side restaurants and cafes, and riding in the vaparettos is all part of it. And do visit the less popular areas of the city - it's ALL worth seeing. Exceedingly busy in August, but room for everyone, plenty of places to eat, and so much to experience. Not cheap, but then it has to be one of the world's best cities - if not THE best. Just too much to see in a day and a half. I will return.

We flew home to the UK from Marco Polo airport - pity they are not as well organised as the city is.

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Christopher Martin
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