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25 Cunard Queen Victoria First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise ever and it exceeded our expectations. From the start Staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and catered to our every need. Personnel could not have been friendlier or more courteous and we ended ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever and it exceeded our expectations. From the start Staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and catered to our every need. Personnel could not have been friendlier or more courteous and we ended our cruise feeling we were leaving friends. So many things to do both at sea and on the tour excursions. All meals were superlative and the "Behind The Scenes" Tour offered an opportunity to really get to know what goes on in the everyday running of the ship - a real insight. The only quibble was with the White Star Luggage Service where the luggage pick up from home was scheduled for a certain day but DHL did not do the pick up as advised on the document. Apart from this, we would definitely choose Cunard and, particularly, the Queen Victoria again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This was our first cruise ever, and for the purposes of the review I suppose it is prudent to note that my partner and I are in our late 30’s - which is quite young for Cunard passengers. SHIP ... Read More
Review of Cunard Queen Victoria This was our first cruise ever, and for the purposes of the review I suppose it is prudent to note that my partner and I are in our late 30’s - which is quite young for Cunard passengers. SHIP The Queen Victoria is a beautiful ship, both inside and out. We saw in several ports bigger ships, but in my opinion when the QV lacks in size on some of these behemoths is the fact that it is stately and elegant. The outside areas on Decks 3, 9, 10 and 11 are lovely and you do feel at times as if you have 'stepped back in time' to be on this ship. If you get up early enough (as my partner and I did a couple of times to experience dawn in a couple of beautiful ports) you will see the deck hands hard at work cleaning the ship every morning to keep the ship spotless. EMBARKATION We Embarked in Civitavecchia, and flew into Rome on a Cunard chartered BA flight from Heathrow. Flight was on time, and check in was painless and easy. One of the small downsides was the situation once we arrived in Rome. The bags took an absolute age to arrive, and once we had given them up to the helpful Cunard reps (the last time we would see our bags for a good while) we were directed around by locally sourced staff working on behalf of Cunard. This wouldn't have been an issue if they had told us what was going on but passengers were herded from place to place without any explanation of what was going on, seemingly to walk to a location simply to then stand with no information for 10-15 minutes, before repeating the process to another location for another wait. Eventually after a good while of being sent from place to place we were on the coach to Civitavecchia. I will note now that if you are being taken anywhere by Cunard they will massively over-estimate the time it will take when they tell you how long the journey is - planning for a worst case scenario i suppose! The drive to Civitavecchia, billed as 70-90 minutes, took about 45. We walked from the coach directly into the pier reception area and were checked in very quickly indeed - a couple of pictures, give over the credit card, and then through security and you are on - I had read horror stories about wait times, but from Coach - Ship took all of 10 minutes, maximum. Really slick and professional I thought. We went directly to our stateroom on Deck 5 midships, the cabin was ready and looking great (more of this later) however but no luggage yet (this was to be expected) so we went off for a tour of the ship and a bite to eat in the Lido buffet on deck 9. I thought the Embarkation process was absolutely magnificent and apart from the situation in Rome airport with the local reps couldn't really fault it (and even that was a minor annoyance) I had read reviews that stated you need to surrender your passport - this was not the case with us. TIP: If you are on a lower deck (2, 3 or 4) instead of waiting for the lifts at midships when you embark, just walk up the stairs - this was the one and only time we had real issues with getting in the lifts as so many people were getting on at once. It doesn’t take long and had I known, even on Deck 5, I would have walked up the stairs to avoid the wait for the lift. THE CABIN We were on deck 5 mid-ship, with a 'restricted view' - I did not find the view a bother at all and could see everything. It possibly limited your photo opportunities, but to be honest I didn't spend a great deal of time on the Balcony anyway so it didn't bother me in the slightest. If I had the choice again I would have gone for an unrestricted view but if your budget will only let you go for the restricted view, just go for it! The ship isn’t very old, less than 10 years, and the state of the Cabin reflected this. It was spotless and very nicely decorated, with a king size bed, dressing table, sofa (which I believe also turned into a bed), coffee table etc. Nice towels, bathrobes and slippers were provided and the amenities in the bathroom were of a high quality (Penhaligon’s) and refreshed should you require (although our steward did need a bit of prompting in this regard). There’s a refrigerator, hair dryer, safe, and several electrical outlets. I knew from reading reviews that UK outlets were provided, however since you have one UK, one US and one European, if you want to use more than one power outlet at once, bring a 4 way power strip or an adapter if you have one. The bed was lovely, with a huge abundance of pillows, and excellent quality bedding. Bathroom was slightly cramped but it was designed very well so you soon got used to the reduced dimensions. The fridge was stocked with water and cans of soft drinks, and the prices for these were fairly reasonable. There was a complimentary half bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us when we got in our room. We saved it for sail away rather than devouring it immediately! The one downside to the room is the size and quality of the television. It is small at 21” and the reception was not of a high quality. The choice of channels is quite limited. However, I didn’t go on the cruise to watch television, I can watch television at home so it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the cruise. LAUNDRY There is a laundry on every floor, but be warned they are busy. There were three washers and three dryers, open from around 0730 to 2100. Use of the machines was free and the soap was also free. Getting a machine seemed to be a challenge as they were always busy with lots of passengers waiting. I did not need to wash any items but I did have to iron a few things, and there tended to be a queue to do this. However not a huge one and didn’t take a huge amount of time. If I were to go again, I would probably take less clothes and simply use the Laundry service for a few select items, as I didn’t think the charges were astronomical for this service from what I could gather (compared to the pricing for some other things – more on that later) DINING There are two levels of Dining, one for Britannia level passengers, and the Queens/Princess grills for the higher levels of passenger – We obviously did not have access to these grills so I cannot comment on them. We had requested a table for two in the Britannia and were granted this, however on reflection I think next time I will state no preference/larger table, as some of the couples who were randomly mixed on the larger tables seemed to be having a whale of a time. However, this is highly dependent on whom you get paired with, and as I will go on to state throughout this review, you could well be unlucky in this regard. Our neighbour on the first evening ordered a sirloin steak well done and then spent 20 minutes complaining loudly to the waiter that it was tough! If you’re going to ruin a steak by ordering it well done madam, don’t be surprised that it’s ruined – you made that happen, not the chefs! We were given a table on the upper floor of the Britannia on the 2nd seating (8:30 dine time) again, I'm in two minds as to which would be the most advantageous – earlier seating at 6:30 means you have more time to enjoy the evening activities, however it does curtail your daytime activities. A quandary you can figure out for yourselves! We had one waiter with two assistants (Wilfredo, Srdan, and Marius), and a dedicated sommelier assigned to our section (Milo). All 4 of these gentlemen were an absolute delight and worked SO hard to keep myself and my partner happy over the course of our voyage. I actually submitted commendations for them as I thought they were absolutely amazing. They really enhanced our voyage and our dining experience every night was amazing. The food is excellent quality, although on occasion slightly rich and you do end most evenings feeling extremely full! (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Some of the choices I made over the course of the week were an absolute delight – The Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska were particular highlights. We did enjoy breakfast and lunch in the dining room as well, but not always, often choosing the Lido over the more ‘formal’ setting of the dining room for either the breadth of choice or because we were in a bit more of a hurry. Dining in the Britannia is not a rushed experience (nor should it be) ALTERNATIVE DINING You can dine on Deck 2 in the Veranda, which is high quality French food, for a surcharge, or in the Lido Buffet on Deck 9. We did not bother booking the Veranda; I thought the quality of the food in the Britannia was more than adequate for our needs. We did walk around it when not open though and it is very tastefully decorated and I am sure the experience in there would be excellent. We enjoyed several lunches and breakfasts in the Lido on deck 9. The Lido buffet is huge, with areas that we didn’t even notice until several days into the cruise. Breakfast in the Lido is a cornucopia of choice, from Waffles and Pancakes (and Eggs) cooked to order, to anything and everything that you might expect for breakfast, be you American, British, or Australian (or indeed many other nationalities!) So much choice that I can’t even begin to explain in words – I don’t have enough words. Suffice to say whatever you want for breakfast is there. I guarantee it, including huge quantities of fruit and breads. For Lunch it’s much of the same, choice wise, with additional areas that come into play, most notably a pizza and pasta station where they will cook your order fresh each lunchtime – the pizza was of excellent quality. They also serve an informal ‘afternoon tea’ in the Lido and also have sections dedicated to fresh donuts, cookies and cupcakes at seemingly random times of the day. It literally never closes, you can get something there 24 hours a day, should you require. There is also a Lido bar and grill at the aft serving ‘fast’ food like Hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. Also it should be noted that every day you can take ‘proper’ afternoon tea in the Queens Room down on deck 2 which is very nice indeed, accompanied by a string quartet (Very elegant). There is also a champagne afternoon tea available for a surcharge but once again we didn’t see the need to partake of this. It’s also worth noting that the Lido does themed nights (for another surcharge). Room Service is also available 24 hours but I felt no need to take advantage of this at any point. TIP The Lido can get very busy at ‘obvious’ times. (9am for breakfast and 1pm for lunch) – it’s sometimes a challenge to find a table at these times, although I never completely failed to find one – it just required an eagle eye! SHOPPING Like most cruise ships this ship has shopping at the Royal Arcade. There were some very competitive buys in perfume, leather goods and liquors. Sales are a common occurrence. SPA The Spa looked amazing and Cunard pushed it quite heavily, but this would be one of my main criticisms of the QV. The prices are (in my opinion) astronomical for the services provided. If they reduced the prices in the Spa I felt like we would have actually used them but I didn’t think we could really justify this. If you have plenty of money though, it did look amazing. EMPIRE CASINO This has to be one of the smallest casinos on the seas. Located on Deck two, there are enough slots, roulette and card games to keep one busy. ROYAL ARCADE This is shopping and as with most ships there is a small retail outlet where one can purchase from a limited selection of clothes, watches, jewellery, etc. There was a store selling essential items and also a book store – although the shops are nice you do seem to pay full whack for everything but if you have forgotten any essentials you will find yourself covered. Once again I didn’t come on a cruise to go shopping, but the fact that they were there was a nice touch. THE ROYAL THEATER One of the visual highlights of the ship. A beautiful room indeed, seating for a lot of people and a wide variety of shows on in the evenings and insight talks from subject experts during the day. The productions were of a decent quality but nothing amazing, but still a fun way to spend an hour or so in the evening before or after your meal! DECK CHAIRS & SEATING Really nice deck chairs on the cruise and they seem to be dotted everywhere where there is room on the upper decks. Although Prime positions go quickly, we never had a problem finding somewhere to relax on deck, either in the Sun or the Shade if required. INTERNET I heard from several passengers horror stories about the speed of Internet on board. I didn’t need to use it as we were only on for a week and I could use my phone in any cafe when in port with free wifi, so I just limited my use to those times – this did not bother me in the slightest. Again I don’t want to spend my holiday checking my emails! POOLS One on the aft of deck nine and one in the mid-forwards section of the ship on deck 9. The pools were rarely busy but a lot of the passengers enjoyed sunbathing next to them. Two hot tubs by each pool as well. Very nice if not enormous, but then when are pools enormous on board – I used the pool twice and the temperature was perfect. There were towels by each pool and in several other common areas – I had read reviews stating you needed to take your towels from your room – this is definitely NOT the case! YOUR FELLOW PASSENGERS Now onto my biggest gripe of the cruise. This ship had about a third of the passengers from the United States followed by the UK and Australia. The remainder was truly a global mix. Many were seniors. Very few (perhaps less than a dozen) children were aboard. The ships’ dress policy stresses appropriate dress all over the ship in the evenings. They mention that there is strict enforcement. Well I couldn’t disagree with that more. There was absolutely no enforcement. At dinner where a jacket is required for men I saw several men in casual shirts with no jacket in the Britannia dining room and some of the women looked downright scruffy. I am not a snob by any means (as you will see shortly!) but one of the driving factors behind our decision to go Cunard was to experience the evenings as an ‘event’ and dress up. Well some of the passengers really push the limits of what should be deemed acceptable in this regard. Formal nights had a much higher ‘hit rate’ of passengers dressing up and making an effort, but some of them still really did push their luck in this regard. If you are going to pay for a Cunard cruise and you know the dress policy, why would you then ignore it? It doesn’t make sense to me. A less formal cruise would save you money if you detest dressing up that much. I suppose the trend away from Smart/Formal attire is a relentless one and even Cunard cannot escape forever. I think personally this is a shame. This takes me onto the rest of the passengers and their attitude. Although we met a great deal of nice and pleasant people on board, it was one of the main detractions of life on board that there were a significant minority of awful people on board. The personality and behaviour of some of these people was appalling. I saw several instances in bars, dining rooms and out on deck when passengers were not just rude to staff, they were downright abusive. Some of them treated the staff like slaves. I was horrified by some of this behavior and went out of my way to be as polite and thankful to the staff as I could be, just to try and redress the balance. I would say that if you say good morning/good afternoon/good evening to everyone you pass; approximately three quarters of them will return the greeting with a smile. The disgusting quarter of them who think they are better than everyone else on the planet will look upon you with disdain, but it’s wise to remember that you are the better person, and manners cost nothing. I lost count of the people I held doors open for who acted as if I was their personal butler rather than a fellow guest being polite. How hard really is ‘please’ ‘thank you’ etc? Apparently these simple words are too much effort for some people. TOURS ON SHORE We mostly preferred to do our own thing in this regard and the prices of some of the trips did seem a bit excessive and we talked to a couple of guests about their experiences and it seems they are very mixed. Some tours are excellent and some are very poor, and there appears to be no way of knowing in advance which is which! However, we got lucky – we booked the Doges Palace/St. Marks Basilica and Gondola ride tour in Venice, and it was absolutely brilliant, our guide was excellent and I enjoyed every moment of it! Well done Cunard! They did mess up though in advance of the tour, saying that our tour tickets would be outside our stateroom the night before the tour, and then they never turned up. Sadly this then led to me rushing around to get them in the morning before the tour, and after bizarrely telling me off for something Cunard had messed up, the member of staff on the tour desk printed us a couple of duplicates. I got the impression that you do pay over the odds for tours and it does seem like a huge money making exercise to me. I think you roll the dice and see if you get lucky on the tour front, we did but make sure you read up on them in advance and make sure that the tour at least provides you with exactly what you want to do, at least then if you do pay over the odds you don’t mind because it was exactly what you wanted! DAILY NEWS AND EVENTS The ship provides both a daily news summary and daily events bulletin to your stateroom. Some of the Port guides were better than others, some including Maps and some without, but on balance they were informative and helpful and we carried them around with us to plan our days. SHIP TOURS We missed the announcement of the bridge/back of house tour which was a shame, would have loved to have done it. We did do the galley tour with executive chef Mark Oldroyd and he was brilliant, giving us loads of interesting information and introducing us to a lot of the chefs on duty at the time preparing our lunches – a really nice passionate guy, both about his work and about Cunard. I was impressed he knew every single member of staff personally – there are hundreds of them! One of the best parts about the galley tour was seeing it was clear that the chefs enjoy their work – they all looked very happy and cheerful in their work. It seemed to me as an outsider looking in that Cunard must treat their staff well. PHOTO GALLERY Simple review of the photographs – very nicely done, but hugely overpriced. We looked at the prices and decided that at the end of the week we’d choose ONE to have rather than several. If you want a selection of photos and an album, it will cost you several hundred pounds – for a few photos and an album! Even one picture we had cost me £25. It’s a lot of money for a picture. There isn’t a hard sell at least which is a plus point, there are photographers everywhere especially on formal nights but if you don’t want your picture taken, don’t queue up DANCING The Queens Room is a very large room where lots of activities happen – fencing classes, ballroom dancing classes, afternoon tea etc. It has a large dance floor open every evening for your dance pleasure. From a man with two left feet, the mixture of dancing on offer was amusing. From one Japanese couple taking it SUPER seriously and throwing themselves about with abandon to older couples moving slowly around the dance floor, there is always something interesting to see. Some of the people thought they were on strictly I think! There is also a ‘nightclub’ on deck 10 called Hemispheres which was more to my tastes, although I was often too full or tired to enjoy it for a long period of time! BARS There is the Queens Room, the Champagne Bar, the midships lounge and the Chart Room---all elegant and a nice place to relax with a drink. The service was excellent in all of the bars. One step up from these is the Commodore Club at Deck 10 forwards. One of my favourite bars of all time, you get a great view from the front of the ship and absolutely brilliant service - and some quite wonderful (if pricey) cocktails. This is offset slightly by the snacks and canapés you will be served to go with your drinks, which were varied and delicious. At the slightly more ‘rough and ready’ (although obviously, as it’s Cunard, not really rough and ready) end of the scale you have the Golden Lion pub opposite the Casino on Deck 2. This is a great little pub with the cheapest drinks on the ship (basically UK pub prices before the service charge) and some varied entertainment – live sports, quizzes, bingo and pianists/jazz bands – You’ll enjoy the Pub. They only do food for a short period of time (12-2) but it’s excellent pub grub, the fish and chips in particular was delicious. The quizzes were taken very seriously by some! LIBRARY This ship has the best library we have ever encountered aboard a cruise ship. Located on Decks 2 & 3, there are hundreds and hundreds of books that can be checked out. Even if you are not a reader visit this library. It is one of a kind and a beautiful space. DISEMBARKATION Smoother than Embarkation, bags outside the room the night before by 11pm, they were gone in a flash. The transfer to the airport in Venice took no time at all and the flight was again on time – once again slightly ruined by some of the ruder contingent aboard ship but I’d gotten fully used to their behaviour by then! SUMMARY I absolutely loved my first cruise on board the QV. The Ship is fantastic and the service is excellent. I enjoyed the formality of the ship and dressing up as an event for dinner. It’s not for everyone but we loved it. Next time I would have no hesitation in going with Cunard, although I think we’ll try a more casual cruise line to compare the two. We are still novices at this after all! The food was excellent, and the choice is bewildering at times. The Room was very nice and we had no complaints at all with our Steward who was attentive and serviced our room constantly without us ever actually seeing him! Downsides are the size and quality of the Television, the prices for the following services: Spa, Photos and Tours and of course back to the rudeness and attitude of some of the guests. I would have no hesitation in recommending the Queen Victoria or sailing aboard her again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I was ambivalent to say the least before embarking on this adventure with my husband and two teenage children, 14 and 17. If it ends up being the only cruise in my lifetime I can tell you it was an emotional, magical experience. The ship ... Read More
I was ambivalent to say the least before embarking on this adventure with my husband and two teenage children, 14 and 17. If it ends up being the only cruise in my lifetime I can tell you it was an emotional, magical experience. The ship is beautiful. The cleanliness, safety, general running of business impeccable. The cabins ( we had an ocean view) are pleasantly large and lovely. The ports were all easy walking distance to the ship. The two on board days were a welcome respite from pavement pounding different countries. Honestly, it was perfection. There was just enough teenagers there to entertain my kids although I'm certain they'd have been happy regardless. Formal nights are a feast for the eyes although my 14 year old son was made to feel like a second class citizen in his Polo shirt and Khakis (mostly by the staff) We had queried this with our travel agent and we were assured it was fine due to his age. It was not. The formal nights are taken very seriously without any sprinkling of irony or humour. It all feels like stepping back in time: no internet, formal dress, respect, a gentile feel. As a Brit living abroad I enjoyed the very British feel to this iconic ship. Thank you! The holiday would have been complete for my boy if he'd have been allowed to use the basketball net that was for crew only. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
It was the first time my sisters and I had ever been on a cruise and we absolutely loved it! All four of us felt it exceeded our expectations and though it was expensive we felt it was worth every penny. Since coming home we cannot stop ... Read More
It was the first time my sisters and I had ever been on a cruise and we absolutely loved it! All four of us felt it exceeded our expectations and though it was expensive we felt it was worth every penny. Since coming home we cannot stop talking about it. It was a beautiful ship, spotlessly clean and all services from all departments on the ship were excellent. We felt there was something for everyone -from quiet cocktail bars to a lively nightclub.The entertainment was excellent. We dined every morning in the Britannia restaurant for breakfast and evening meal and the service and the food was outstanding.The cabin was again spotlessly clean. There was ample storage space and coat hangers which you do not get in many hotels. Every evening a newsletter was delivered to the cabin with very detailed notes about the port we were docked in and all about the town with a map to guide you. The only criticism we have and it is a minor one is that the pre-voyage literature was very much about selling the trips and not enough about what we were entitled to use and where we could eat on board. We did not realise until the fourth day on board that we could also eat at the Lido restaurant and that it was open all day and for late breakfast. However, that said we are all planning our next voyage on the Queen Victoria! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome ... Read More
We sailed on Queen Victoria to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary, and this cruise was our first. We are both in our mid 40’s. We booked this 14 day Western Mediterranean cruise Embarking from Istanbul and returning from Rome around 5 weeks before departure and at that time took advantage of a Cunard ‘Saver Fare’ and opted for a balcony stateroom with an obstructed view, which best fit our budget. Nearer embarkation time we received notification from Cunard of our stateroom being upgraded to an unrestricted view on Deck 5 Aft, Stateroom 5161, which was a lovely surprise. In total, the cruise cost a very reasonable £1349pp for the 14 nights including flight supplements. The cruise number was V517D in the Cunard brochure. Flights to Istanbul and return from Rome were included in the fare excepting a small supplement of £50pp due to us flying from Manchester (flights from London did not incur supplement). The charter flight carrier was Titan Airways, and flights both ways were pleasant enough, and flight times good, 8am out and 4pm for the return. It would have been beneficial, and I would recommend to all, to extend the holiday by staying on in Rome for a couple of days afterward or prior to embarkation in Istanbul or indeed both destinations, so that both these cities could be explored further but sadly, time and work pressures were not on our side. Just a note on the Titan Airways flights, the information we were provided prior to the holiday was that a very restrictive 20kg hold luggage and 5kg cabin bag was imposed and no possibility of paying for extra weight; it turned out at the check in desk, that no such restriction was in place, and essentially our packing anxieties were unfound, I guess as long as you don’t go over the top, checking in an extra few kilos would be fine. We flew into Istanbul Corlu, which is a tiny military and civil airport so getting through customs and onto the awaiting coaches was swift, transfers to the port in Istanbul was around an hour and a half, but this accounted for by heavy traffic in Istanbul, a city of over 15million people! Embarkation was an easy process, registering ourselves and our credit card for onboard spending was a speedy 5 minute process; passports exchanged for the ships card that provides you with identification to gain access and exit to the ship, port customs, stateroom key and as your currency on board ship throughout your stay. Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom within an hour of us boarding. Queen Victoria We remain in awe of this magnificent ship, and I cannot think of enough superlatives that quantify the feel good factor of being on board. The ship is fitted out beautifully, the public areas decorated and furnished to an extremely high standard and the deck areas nicely laid out and well provided for with equipment such as deck chairs and loungers, in the shade or in the sun. Despite the heat and humidity outside, the public areas and the stateroom were always at a nice comfortable temperature throughout, and the air-conditioning in the stateroom is nicely independently controllable. Dining In terms of dining, as per the booking conditions, dining allocated on embarkation, we were allocated the early 6.30pm sitting in the Britannia Restaurant, and we were disappointed by this initially, due to us having pre-booked several all day tours and we did request a change to the late sitting, the Maitre d’hôtel did get our reservation switched the second week, but actually, we much preferred the early sitting, as by the time you finish dinner following the late sitting, we were unmotivated to take in all the entertainment on offer due to the late hour and our tiredness, I guess its always to be careful what you wish for! The food in the Britannia Restaurant was fantastic; service was impeccable, unrushed and attentive our waiters Marlon & Mark were a great team; and the wine waiters were equally as diligent, but they were quite stretched and at times, they weren’t able to provide the service they are clearly capable of due to having such large stations to attend to. We were allocated a table for 2 on both weeks, early and the late sitting. We also took advantage of the Verandah Restaurant on two occasions for dinner, and it certainly is a worthy upgrade, the food and service ratcheted up a notch from the Brittania dining and we thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance and service provided there and its certainly good value for the $24pp it costs. Lunch, when not on tours and sea days, we took in the Britannia Restaurant which was always a pleasant experience and we did on occasions elected to sit with other diners which was nice to catch up with other people, their experiences and stories. We also lunched in the Golden Lion Pub and again, the food and service was great. Breakfast we also took in the Britannia; breakfasts there unhurried and relaxing, we took one room service breakfast on the balcony, but being a bit old-fashioned and much preferring a proper table we didn’t take advantage of the room service as much as my wife would have preferred to have done. The Lido buffet restaurant: I need to disclose that I’m not a buffet fan (it reminds me so much of queuing at a works canteen and also, my lack of self control would have led me to have eaten far too much!), so my comments are limited to the several breakfasts we ate there when necessary as some of our tours required an early start, and it was always an ok experience; the food plentiful and hot. We took a couple of snacks from the Lido on deck, but other than that, we stayed clear of the Lido, preferring dining in the Britannia, so I cannot comment on lunch and dinner provided. The upgraded dining menus in The Lido typically costing $10- $15, of which waiting staff are provided to serve you at the table, such as the Indian, Italian and Oriental speciality evenings looked very nice, but I found it difficult to come out of my comfort zone to take any of these dining options. Afternoon tea was extremely nice in the Queens Room and served with care and attention, and always accompanied by a pianist, the small cakes were gorgeous. I believe that afternoon tea is also available in the Winter Garden and Lido. We didn’t use Café Carinthia, and I’m really not sure why, probably just because of our schedule, as when passing by, the food and coffee always looked great. To sum up dining on Queen Victoria; there’s bound to be something to suit all tastes and palettes and dietary requirements, my wife did on occasions take the Royal Spa selections which are suggestions at meal times for health eating, in hindsight, perhaps I should have done the same. In short, you could never go hungry on Queen Victoria. Drinks All the bars provided great service and we tried them all out! The Golden Lion, great for a cooling drink following a tour, and a great place to have fun, such as quizzes, bingo etc. Midships Bar and Chart Room a really nice place to take a cocktail or G&T prior to dinner and pre dinner always served with a nice selection of complimentary small eats such as nuts and canapés. Fantastic views in the Commodore Club, but we found this space a little bit too stuffy and formal for our liking. The bars on deck were also very pleasant. I feel the drink prices were in keeping with the service provided and I feel that if Cunard provided an ‘all inclusive’ drink package add on, it would only serve to lower the quality and service standards and might cause over indulgence by some. We did take wine in the restaurants with our meals, and there’s plenty of selection to suit all pockets, ours were at the lower end, but there were some great wines, red, whites, rose and fizz in the $30 to $50 range that amiably accompanied dinner and made every evening special. The odd bottle of bubbly we had was a real treat. Entertainment This must be so difficult for any cruise ship to get the right balance and to suit all tastes, but the entertainment we participated in was great fun or interesting. Wine tasting was great, unlimited quaffing of some great wine and I did learn a lot from the experts on hand; lectures were engaging, particularly Jane Corbyn; sing bingo, quizzes etc. in the Golden Lion were great fun, the comedian Mick Miller attracted great big belly laughs all around the theatre. Dance classes were hilarious, due to my two left feet and the Royal Cunard singers and dancers put on some great shows, and clearly they are very well organised and proficient in what they do. Didn’t use the Hemispheres Club as we were simply too tired after all the days activities but perhaps we should of pushed ourselves that little bit more, as the advertised music on offer there sounded like great fun. My wife used the Spa on a couple of occasions and also the hairdressing, she would have probably used it more but the costs were for our budget, prohibitive, $70 for your hair putting up prior to dinner is cost prohibited, but probably is about right to stifle demand on the available hairdressers! Shopping on board was great, and the duty free prices seemed reasonable. There appeared to be some great deals on premium products. Photos Here’s my only gripe of the cruise, and not down to the quality of the finished product or the expertise of the photographers, but both the costs and the delay of getting to view the photographs. $24.95 for a photo at dinner or on quayside and $34.95 for the formal compositions are, I feel simply too high, particularly in this digital, everybody having a camera in their pocket day and age- maybe photography has become just too common place and taken for granted by me, but even my wife, who is usually over zealous and Gung-ho when it comes to photo purchasing at any location we visit, balked at the prices. Photo packages did not seem good value. I clearly don’t have access to Cunard’s balance sheet and cost of sales in the photographic department, so maybe for the quality and overheads of employing the experts they do, the prices might well be fair, but what I do know is, that if the prices were pegged at say $14.95, my wife would have certainly purchased a dozen or so photos, but as it was, she only purchased one! Extremely out of character for her. A suggestion I made on our feedback post cruise to Cunard was to raise my pricing concerns and at least suggest to make all the photo’s available as a digital download post cruise, for a more reasonable fee, or even at the same fee, but giving some time to consider the photo’s and buy them at a later date when you can save up a bit for them, rather than the inevitable and wasteful shredding and recycling of the printed article. Ports/Tours Istanbul. Fantastic city with so much to see and do and welcoming and friendly people and fantastic food and drink. We were so lucky to have an overnight stay there the first day before setting sail the following evening, and even better was a return to the city several days later. We used the first full day to take a marvellous excursion taking in the highlights of the city, so that when we returned, we could concentrate on taking a look in more detail of the sights, smells and sounds. The call to prayer from the many mosques around the city was fantastic to wake to in a morning and listen to at sunset. The tour we went on ‘Best of Istanbul Four Seasons’ took in all the major sites and included lunch at a fantastic hotel. The sites were of course the Blue Mosque but also Hagia Sophia; Topkapi Palace and the Harem; spice bazaar and so on. The tour guide was engaging, funny and knowledgeable and lunch a pleasant adjunct to the afternoon activities. I just wish Cunard would refrain in all of the Turkish port tours to include carpet making and the clearly commissioned sales pitch at the end! But I guess they are an optional feature of the tours. Shopping in Istanbul or any of the Turkish ports is a must, particularly clothing and jewellery, spices, tea olives, nuts and sweets such as Turkish Delight, which are all good value for money and high quality. On our second day visit we went to the Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar as well as chilling out in several squares and cafes and simply wandering the streets and parks taking in the cities warmth and culture. Marmaris. Beautiful port for Queen Victoria to sail into and berth, sailing into Marmaris is reminiscent of fjords, narrow channels, tiny islands and a backdrop of mountains shrouded by pine forest. We didn’t take a tour there, and simply walked to a beach for a day there swimming and sunbathing, followed by a traditional Turkish lunch. People we spoke to told us that the tours were great value, particularly the river cruise tour. Heraklion. We took a tour to Knossos, in hindsight, it would have been better and much, much cheaper to have done this tour independently and it’s a small site, cheap to enter- 6 euros and transport there by bus is only a couple of euros. Although the tour guide was good, we could hardly hear what she had to say due to it being so busy and because of the constant chirping of the Cicadas, which were extremely loud! The lack of the tour guide providing radio audio commentary hamstrung the tour. Piraeus. My wife’s favourite. Athens was a fantastic port of call; lots to see and do and we took a tour of The Acropolis and visited the Plaka area. Worthwhile and good value and the sights of the city from the Acropolis amazing. The Plaka is a great place to lunch and shop. Dardanelles. At sea passing the Dardanelles was amazing, and gave time to contemplate the strategic position that Turkey holds and the reason why so many lost their lives during the Great War in order to attempt to hold this. There are poignant memorials to those who fell are visible clearly from the ship. Kusadasi. My favourite port of call. Tour to Ephesus is not to be missed, and we took in two other landmarks also, Miletus and Didyma- all I can suggest is to visit, I can’t begin to sum up how wonderful and amazing Ephesus is, the tour guide was fantastic and lunch included on the full day tour, which engaged so much that the day whizzed by. Kusadasi itself is a fantastic port, lots of great shops, fantastic places to eat and drink, and don’t forget to treat yourself to beauty treatments; massage and a visit to a traditional Turkish barber who will coiffure your hair, massage your head and shoulders and give you the closest shave you’ll ever get for 30 TLi, a lot less than £10 GBP. Santorini. Now this was meant to be one of the highlights of my journey, but sadly I probably placed too much expectation on this port of call. We anchored in the bay, and tenders took as ashore to awaiting coaches to visit the village of Oia, and then a wine tasting, neither impressed, Oia was thronged with people, and the streets jam packed with a sea of people. Oia itself is without doubt beautiful, but too many people spoil the experience and the village is essentially one big gift shop! Santorini wine was uninspiring and not to my taste, but again one mans meat is another mans poison. To finish off the tour, a ‘free’ ticket was given for the cable car down to the old port from Thira, unfortunately, the demand was such that if we had queued we would never have got the last tender, so a horrid walk down the Donkey manure encrusted steps ensued, a horrid experience, made worse by people riding up and down the steps by the clearly exploited Donkey’s which lacked shade and water. If I do return to Santorini, it will have to be out of season. Transit Messina Stait. Amazing! Salerno. Not a pretty port! We were all tripped out by the time we berthed in Salerno and didn’t visit any of the obvious choices of excursions such as Pompei; Vesuvius; Amalfi or Sorrento but instead had a sojourn around Salerno, nice trip to the beach for a swim and the most glorious pizza and ice cream to round the day off. Civitavecchia. Our last port of call, and again, not pretty but if only we had time to stay on for a day or two in Rome but we did take in a city tour en route to the airport which was informative, but sadly not enough to satisfy much at all of what Rome has to offer. Disembarkation Much the same as embarkation hassle free and smooth. In Summary All in all, this was the best holiday we have ever taken. It was a special occasion for us, and we spent much more money on this two week holiday as we would taking our three sons away for a couple of weeks in the sun on our usual annual holidays. In terms of value for money and quality, the whole experience far exceeded our expectations, impeccable and friendly service delivered with care, attention and professionalism. Its great to get dressed up and make every evening a special occasion. The only difficulty for us now, is that Cunard has set the bar for our first taste of cruising and it would be so difficult to choose any other cruise line, in case the experience we had with Cunard wasn’t replicated. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
There were good things about this cruise line. We had no problems with the ship or crew. They were kind and helpful. This ship was very clean. The food was best in The Britannia restaurant, but the menu's were very strange offerings, ... Read More
There were good things about this cruise line. We had no problems with the ship or crew. They were kind and helpful. This ship was very clean. The food was best in The Britannia restaurant, but the menu's were very strange offerings, but ended up delicious. The Lido buffet was ok with the best food item we had being baklava. We did enjoy the Lion Pub lunch of fish & chips but it only served food until 2:00 pm. The Lion Pub also was where we hung out sometimes in the evenings playing trivia games and enjoying Troy our server. The evenings were very boring unless you enjoy piano, ball room dancing and mediocre entertainment. Thank goodness we only had one at sea day with the other days spent off ship enjoying excursions. Honestly, the worst part of the whole experience was being on vacation and having to dress up every night. The informal nights, men are required to wear a jacket. That is not informal to us. I didn't feel relaxed in a dress & heels every night. We have been on other cruise lines we enjoyed more than this and we will be returning to Princess again. The reason we went with Cunard was because Princess would not allow three people in a room. My single son ( who is a marine ) offered to pay full price for a single room but was denied. Cunard allowed him to share a room with his sister & her husband at a reduced rate. He slept on a cot in their room for a lot of money! IF we had known he was going to sleep on a cot, we wouldn't have used this cruise line either! An adult man deserves to sleep comfortably in a bed for the money that was paid. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I've lived in several cruise ports, so because of my "disdain" of how busy and crowded places get on cruise ship days, I've always been reluctant to go on one. This time however it seemed like the best way to ... Read More
I've lived in several cruise ports, so because of my "disdain" of how busy and crowded places get on cruise ship days, I've always been reluctant to go on one. This time however it seemed like the best way to explore some Mediterranean islands, without hopping on and off planes and ferries. I am so glad I did! It even turned out to be timed just right to be a very special 30th birthday celebration. If you are looking for activities and entertainment, this may not be the cruise for you, as it doesn't appear to have as many programs and onboard entertainment as other cruises I've looked into. I however was looking for peace and quiet, so it suited me perfectly. My husband participated in the table tennis tournaments, the fencing lessons (both free) and the watercolor class ($35 for 3 lessons but provides the materials which he then took home). He was looking forward to the bridge lessons, but missed the first lesson and wasn't able to pick it up later. There were also some dancing lessons and other events, but I wasn't interested so I can't remember them all. I loved my first cruise experience. It was wonderful falling asleep and waking up in a new port and not having to had navigate buses, trains, boats or planes to get there. Highlights of this cruise would be the ample time in ports (morning arrival, evening departure) to discover the locations and the high tea everyday at 3pm! Though it may sound strange, another highlight was the laundry room! Free laundry (including soap) and ironing facilities, but also a great place to make friends! The standard food is English, which I preferred, but may not be everyone's cup of tea (don't expect hot dogs and hamburgers). Fellow passengers were mostly retirees from the UK, but that meant they had a wealth of knowledge and were very pleasant cruise companions. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and felt like family by the end of the cruise. I really enjoyed my first cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Embarkation - was a dream, very efficient and in our cabin within an hour of arriving at Southampton. We brought on a bottle of spirits and some mixers with no trouble. I think as long as you are discreet and don't take advantage, ... Read More
Embarkation - was a dream, very efficient and in our cabin within an hour of arriving at Southampton. We brought on a bottle of spirits and some mixers with no trouble. I think as long as you are discreet and don't take advantage, it's allowed. A quick unpack then into the Lido for a spot of lunch and to explore the ship (although I still had trouble with front and rear of the ship even with my trusty map! Food - usually we had breakfast and lunch in the Lido, (and lovely afternoon tea) and dinner in the Britannia, and we went to the Verandah on our last night. The food in the Britannia was very good with a slightly retro feel - beef Wellington, cold soups, crepes Suzette, baked Alaska. We loved it! The Verandah put on a bit of a show and flambed steak at our table, very 70's! We had 2nd sitting at 8.30 and I was a bit worried about eating so late but as long as we had a snack about 5pm it was fine. Portions in the restaurants were just right. There was a huge choice of food in the Lido, all through the day and night. Sometimes there was a bit of a scrum at breakfast but I couldn't fault the choice, presentation and quality of food. The coffee in the Britannia was horrible so we used go up to the Lido and have our coffee and then decide whether to go to the show or for a drink or bed! Ports – we had port information with maps the night before together with the ships programme and the Purser usually had more maps if you asked. We got off at every port and did our own thing but used the shuttle buses if available. Most of the ports weren’t very pretty as you would imagine except for Rapallo (a lovely seaside town) where we had to go in by tender. Loved Gibraltar (buy your duty free there) even though we only had a couple of hours, Barcelona and Valencia but very disappointed in Monte Carlo – overpriced and very built up. There was a big choice of excursions from the ship but we only booked one, transport into Florence from Livorno, very overpriced at $75 for a bus ride with no air conditioning on a very hot day. Entertainment – lots of things to do were listed in the ship’s daily programme. We went to a couple of the talks – Simon Weston and the Red Arrows’ director were on our voyage; port talks; a galley tour and we managed a film showing one evening. There were other things like fruit carving, craft circle, engine tour, spa activities. There were 2 shows in the beautiful theatre every evening, singers covering show and pop tunes, a tenor singing opera style, an acrobatic act and the amazing Cunard dancers. Even if it’s not your taste you have to admire the effort that goes into the shows. There was ballroom dancing every evening in the Queens (Ball) Room and pianists, harpists, string quartets in various locations. 2 of our party made it into the night club one night (“Dad dancing” was the verdict). Drinks – we usually had a cocktail before dinner and tried out a few different bars, our favourite being the Commodore Club at the front top of the ship with an amazing view, we saw dolphins one evening. The drinks have an additional service charge added to the bill and we did find that more than one waiter had trouble charging 2 drinks to one cabin and 2 to another so keep an eye on what you are signing for. Tried a few cocktails on the menu, favourite was the Cosmopolitan! Dress code – this caused the most amount of discussion before we went – basically the men had to wear a suit every night with tie/bowtie for formal, without tie for informal. Ladies - I wore dresses for the formal but only took 1 long dress and smart trousers and tops for informal. I took masks for the Masquerade Ball and a fascinator for the Royal Ascot Ball but didn’t wear them; if you didn’t want to participate you don’t need to bother. There was a 175 Ball as well but didn’t see any dressing up at all. Everybody in the restaurants dressed up which was lovely although I think the men found it a bit hot in their jackets. Gratuities – this also caused a lot of discussion, we happily paid the added on gratuity (and hope it did indeed go to the staff as promised) and left a bit more for our steward in the cabin. Some of our party also tipped the restaurant waiters that served us. Ship facilities – everything was spotlessly clean and tidy, the decoration is quite ornate but in keeping with the Cunard name. The pools were tiny as expected but lots of places to sunbathe if you wanted to, we were just as happy to sit on our balcony and watch the world go by. You could always find somewhere to sit and read or chat in the public areas without having to buy something. Disembarkation – the was luggage taken the night before, turfed out of our cabins by 8.30am to hang around the ship till 2.30pm. The instructions were to go to the restaurant to be called and escorted to our airport coach, having gone to the restaurant we were told to make our own way to the gangway with no farewell or thank you for your custom! The luggage was waiting for us ashore with no check on who owned what and we were taken to the airport hours too early on a shabby old coach with no aircon (another hot day) and a good view of the road underneath every time the aisle carpet lifted. A bit of an anti climax to a lovely holiday Drawbacks – the extras like drinks, ships photos, shops, excursions, Wi Fi were all overpriced but at least you could avoid then if you wanted to. Thought it was a bit mean to charge for Wi Fi as most people think it’s a necessity nowadays. We began to feel life onboard after 9 days got a bit wearing – too much eating, drinking, spending; and dressing for dinner had lost its appeal (perhaps a couple of less informal nights would be good, shirt and smart trousers for men and smart clothing for ladies). Would we do another one? Yes, maybe leave it a few years first though! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My wife and I joined the Queen Victoria on the 11th March 2015 for the return passage to New York, arriving on the 25th April 2015. It was my present to her for her 70th birthday as a once in a lifetime experience. Whilst I must commend ... Read More
My wife and I joined the Queen Victoria on the 11th March 2015 for the return passage to New York, arriving on the 25th April 2015. It was my present to her for her 70th birthday as a once in a lifetime experience. Whilst I must commend the ship for its presentation, the quality of the food and the service provided to the "guests" as Cunard wish to call us, there were faults in the following. My wife and I took this cruise because it was for the senior person of our age and the dress code required formal and informal nights. As usual there were "guests" that did not enter into the spirit of the dress code and were allowed, by the staff of Cunard, to enter the dining room and the Lido in the wrong clothing. When I asked the matre de in the restaurant why this was being permitted, I was informed that the dress code had been relaxed on the return journey as it was relaxed on the outward journey. No body from Cunard informed us. The cost of the excursions were greatly overpriced and it was cheaper to arrange transport at the port. The cost of seeing the ships doctor was far to expensive at $92.75 for the preliminery consultation. I experienced wax in my left ear and was informed by the doctor that I had an inner ear infection, at the same time was informed that I should insert cotton soacked in olive oil into my ear three times per day and that would remove the wax.!!!!!!! My ear was cleaned by the nurse which solved the problem, but no medicine was given to me for the inner ear infection. My wife contracted the "Carnival Cough", as I and our friends also contracted in varying degrees, which lasted for the last three weeks of the cruise and totally spoiled that and the places we wished to see. On comming home my wife was admitted, via my 999 call, to the local hospital and was diagnosed with double pneumonia and on a points scale of 1-10 she was a 9. The next stage was intensive care. My wife spent one week in hospital and it will be another 5/6 weeks before she will hopefully recover. There were many, many "guests" on that cruise that suffered from the "Carnival Cough" and we know of friends that we made that when they returned home they to had to have anti-biotics from their doctors. This is a very serious matter that Cunard must prevent and not treat the "guests" as cash cows, $92.75 to see the doctor is far too expensive. We heard of a "guest" having to spend his holiday money for the doctors bill. The ship must be cleaned before it returns to cruising as those future passengers may well contract the "Carnival Cough". Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We have just returned from a 2 week cruise on Cunard’s Queen Victoria – our first experience of cruising. We joined the ship at Southampton on 20 January for the first leg of her 2015 world cruise. The cruise included a visit to the ... Read More
We have just returned from a 2 week cruise on Cunard’s Queen Victoria – our first experience of cruising. We joined the ship at Southampton on 20 January for the first leg of her 2015 world cruise. The cruise included a visit to the Azores, British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Bahamas and Fort Lauderdale – flying back from Miami. We knew the ship was beautiful, following a taster day on her in August 2014, and the trip did not disappoint. The daily programme of events was more than adequate to keep us amused – in fact we were disappointed to have missed some of the pastimes because we just couldn’t fit them into our busy days. The gym was excellent and although I used the sauna almost every day I only ever saw one other lady in the changing rooms. As we were first time cruisers, we booked our excursions through Cunard. Most were good (apart from a very disappointing sightseeing/beach trip in the Bahamas). Swimming with Sting Rays in Antigua was an experience not to be missed. We soon realised that most passengers make their own arrangements when on shore and people were always willing to share a taxi around the island to do some sightseeing. Getting off and on the ship whilst in port was painless and queue free – a very efficient operation. The quality of the entertainment was mixed but we went to every show and did appreciate the problems of trying to please people of all ages and backgrounds. The theatre on Board Queen Victoria is beautiful and seats over 800 people. The food was fantastic (we ate in the Britannia Restaurant), the staff were lovely and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. Don’t miss the opportunity to share a table at breakfast time and hear the experiences of fellow travellers from all over the world. We shared our dinner table with 6 other people and rarely managed to get the meal completed within 2 hours because of the conversations we shared. The majority of passengers are elderly but if you are middle aged, don’t let this put you off – there are plenty of opportunities for all ages on board. There are facilities for children, although we did feel that the ship is definitely set up for largely adult passengers. There are always niggles when you are on holiday and probably our main ones were that the drink prices were high (due mainly to the added service charges) and a charge of $25 for a photo seemed ridiculous when so many were wasted every day of the cruise. Entry to the Spa could only be purchased for a 2 week period – surely day passes could be organised for more people to take advantage of this lovely facility? However, we were sad to leave this lovely lady – and very envious of many of our fellow passengers who were continuing on through the Panama Canal. We are now officially cruising converts and, having spoken to many other passengers, it seems that we definitely started at the top and a Cunard ship will be a very hard act to follow!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We are a couple in our early 50's on our first cruise, I didn't want lots of kids around, I did want to dress up in the evenings, I did a good bit of research before booking and it paid off; Cunard was perfect for us. The ... Read More
We are a couple in our early 50's on our first cruise, I didn't want lots of kids around, I did want to dress up in the evenings, I did a good bit of research before booking and it paid off; Cunard was perfect for us. The relaxation begins the moment you arrive at Southampton. We were dropped off by taxi and the bags were picked up by a porter before they could touch the ground, 20 minutes later we were on board, all checks completed, what a difference to airline check ins! I bought a soft drinks package which turned out to be good value, the soft drinks used as mixers in my evening drinks were covered by this too, so I just paid for the Archers in my Archers and lemonade. The staff could not be more helpful, our evening meals were wonderful, however as a table we all wanted a little more in the way of vegetables, no problem, our waiter brought us a dish of extra veg every evening, once he knew. If we couldn't decided between 2 dishes, that was fine, we had both! We ate at second sitting in the Britannia restaurant, and were concerned about the companions we might be matched with having opted for a table of 8. Cunard came up trumps there, it turns out all four couples were a bit worried about the same thing but we got on so well, I'm sure we'll remain firm friends for many years. It appeared that they matched us by our ages, we were the oldest! I went to the fencing classes each sea day; a good pace but personal tuition given for each member of the group until they were happy with the techniques. Very good fun and fairly energetic. I also joined the singing group which met at midday on sea days and put on a short concert on the last day. The choir mistress; Cordelia, and the Pianist; Gavin are humourous and made everyone feel welcome and relaxed, don't worry if English isn't your first language several of the group took part fully even though they were singing in a foreign tongue, it was lovely. The hairdresser was very professional and did a wonderful job. The stretch classes were good. DH found the gym adequately equipped with a far more enjoyable view than our usual gym; dolphin watching while exercising. We attended the lectures given by a brain surgeon which were informative but entertaining too. We enjoyed several films in the theatre and a few more on TV. Afternoon tea was pleasant and a nice opportunity to meet other guests. Tea was accompanied by a young harpist who played beautifully, all the live music was superb with a string quartet or the harpist playing on the formal nights in the dining room. There is so much to do that you have to pick your activities carefully, the lectures on upcoming ports were repeated on the TV, so you don't need to attend if it clashes with something else you'd like to do, a pity I discovered this too late. The food in all areas was wonderful, we ate at the Lido's Asado (Argentinian) alternative dining option one evening which was good value; $10 extra pp, the Lido looked quiet different from it's usual daytime buffet with the tables clothed appropriately. We discovered that there are cookies available to have with your coffee mid-morning, but you have to ask for them, otherwise there is so much food available all the time you are spoiled for choice. Being the school holidays there were some children aboard, but on the whole they were not noticeable. I had been warned that we might find the older people to be more of a nuisance, but didn't find that so either. Everyone we spoke to was friendly and interesting, the one exception being an amusing character who was over confident and you find those everywhere. We knew about the tipping policy and had decided to get our heads round it and go with it, however, 2 couples on our table withdrew from the blanket tipping option and tipped those they wanted to at the beginning and end of the cruise, their choice. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I should say that this was my first sea cruise, previously I have enjoyed two river cruises with Scenic Tours who I would rate higher. Cunard is now unfortunately an American company, so you will be subject to the American tipping ... Read More
I should say that this was my first sea cruise, previously I have enjoyed two river cruises with Scenic Tours who I would rate higher. Cunard is now unfortunately an American company, so you will be subject to the American tipping requirements. They dont pay staff enough salary so you have to supplement them by a daily charge of about $11 per passenger per day, plus an automatic 15% on any drinks, bottle of wine etc. There is an active sales effort going on all the time, which you may not realise at first. For example for each port to be visited there are 'Port Talks'. Hoping to find out something about the places we would visit, and for example, if would we need local currency, and so on. We were disappointed to get no information at all - just a strong sales pitch for all the tours which could be bought. iPad for beginners class - that looks interesting. Yes $45 per person. $47.50 for internet access for a short time. If all this moneymaking stuff doesn't worry you, you will have a great time. It was a special time for my wife and I, so we were not being mean with money, it was just the continual, insidious efforts to get more and more of your money that I dislike. We met lots of regular cruisers, at our table one couple had been on 17 of them, so the continual efforts to make more and more money does not annoy many people. Also the ship was full, so clearly I am in a small minority fore disliking continual efforts to prise out more money. Everything else was excellent. We were in the Princess Grill, this is just one level down form the top Queen's Grill. Food was excellent with a wide choice. Staff were extremely helpful and pleasant. Cabin was well equipped and kept well. The whole ship is a temple to luxury. The shops which can tempt you all have the top of the range products. The Queens Theatre puts on a wide range of acts in to a very professional standard. All these aspects of the cruise we enjoyed very much. One other advantage as I write, the pound sterling buys about $1.70 which is quite good. With the 20% VAT off for duty free the desire to buy some nice things is hard to resist. If you have not been on a cruise before, I would suggest you try a short river cruise first. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I must say after reading some of these reviews, we were more than a little bit worried about cruising with Cunard! But We were very pleasantly surprised. I really can't see what Anyone would have to moan about?! I'm a non ... Read More
I must say after reading some of these reviews, we were more than a little bit worried about cruising with Cunard! But We were very pleasantly surprised. I really can't see what Anyone would have to moan about?! I'm a non confined wheelchair user, in other words I can, on a good day, walk a Little. We drove to southampton and had prebooked our car in with CPS. We were directed to the kerb and I was helped out of the car into my chair whilst my husband unloaded the luggage. The luggage was taken on board and placed in our room whilst a very chatty gentleman wheeled me through security, passports and check in and then to our room! The room was more than big enough with 2 doubles and 1 single wardrobe, several drawers a table and sofa, dressing table, fridge, hair dryer etc and the bathroom although small had everything you needed plus complimentary toiletries. Everything was so simple and nothing was too much bother. Every single member of the crew greeted us with smiles and fell over themselves to help. Each meal time ( we decided the Lido was a better fit for us) they carried my tray reached over and got whatever I asked for and then escorted us to the table. They would come over several times to ask if you wanted anything else! The food was varied and plentiful, even a fussy eater like myself was able to find plenty to eat from the selection of cold meats, cheeses, salads, breads, fruit, vegetables, hot meat, fish, etc. oh and dont forget the pudding 😊 there is also a grill by the pool at lunch times for hotdogs/burgers etc, a pizza bar, vanilla & chocolate ice-cream on tap as well as nightly specials. From 6am until 11pm there is food available and soft drinks, tea & coffee. We had one night in the Britannia restaurant and they even did me a special meal with plain chicken when I couldn't find anything I liked on the menu! The jacuzzis and pools were great, everything was clean and the bar service excellent. Disembarkation was just as easy, there were lots of men waiting to help with the disabled passengers (make sure you advise them of your disabilitys and fill in the medical questionnaires when you book) they took us straight down to check out, straight through customs and was met by another man that collected our cases and then both took us to our car and helped pack the car up. FANTASTIC! The only thing that would have made it better for me would be to have a parasol as I did burn quite badly but other than that it was perfect. Very mobility friendly and We will definitely be going again.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Arrived at allotted time and told we were late! Cabin adequate. 30 minute queue for 2030 hr dining slot, Food 'dreadful'. Dishes being sent back by the dozen. Shown to our table at 0930 next morning. 40 minutes wait until a ... Read More
Arrived at allotted time and told we were late! Cabin adequate. 30 minute queue for 2030 hr dining slot, Food 'dreadful'. Dishes being sent back by the dozen. Shown to our table at 0930 next morning. 40 minutes wait until a waiter approached our table with a menu. Food continued to be dreadful throughout the trip. Resorted to eating in the Lido buffet. At least the food was edible. An average glass of wine was charged at 14 dollars a glass plus 15% compulsory service charge. Even told that a glass of Merlot I returned was not corked as I stated but oxidised! Suggest better training.. Toilets would not flush on one day. All this when we were celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary. Thank you Cunard, for nothing. Cruise with them at you peril!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We'd been promising ourselves a cruise when we retired, and finally the time had arrived. I would have been happy to book online but ended up going to our local travel agent, Bath Travel, to ensure I didn't make any stupid ... Read More
We'd been promising ourselves a cruise when we retired, and finally the time had arrived. I would have been happy to book online but ended up going to our local travel agent, Bath Travel, to ensure I didn't make any stupid mistakes. The helpful lady there helped us choose a suitable stateroom, I paid a deposit, and we were off. This was in January, almost 6 months ahead of the sailing date, so we had a good choice of staterooms. There were a few hiccups in Cunard's Voyage Personaliser to start with, but they seemed to go away within a couple of weeks. June 1st eventually arrived and our local car hire driver, Dave, arrived to collect us and our mountain of luggage. Luckily we live only 20 miles or so from Southampton, so within half an hour or so we were unloading again at the terminal. I'd labelled the luggage using those plastic holders for the Cunard sheets and was hopeful that we'd see it all sometime that day. Check in took five minutes at most and then we joined a rather long queue for the x-ray machines. This seemed forever but was probably only 20 minutes or so, and then we were aboard! Found the lift, up to Deck 8 and our luggage was awaiting us. Our stateroom, 8038, was perfectly acceptable in size. Plenty of space for clothes and we managed to hide all the cases away. The half bottle of bubbly was a nice touch, and although we rarely drink the stuff it seemed a good way to celebrate this trip. I'd done my research on Cruise Critic and knew that lunch would be available in the Lido, so off we went. That was the start of 2 of the most fantastic weeks we've had in 21 years of marriage. During this voyage we celebrated our anniversary and my birthday. I ordered flowers for my wife, and a most beautiful arrangement arrived and lasted the whole voyage. We were both highly impressed with the Britannia Restaurant. Fine dining every night was how I would describe it. It amazes me that the galley can turn out such quantities of very high quality food every day. We had dinner there every day, and breakfast most days. No complaints about service or quality. Our waiters looked after us wonderfully and the wine waiter was helpful but never pushy. We tended to lunch in the Lido, which brings its own risks - you tend to put too much on your plate in self service places. I haven't dared weigh myself since we came home! The formal evenings were more relaxing than I had imagined. We are used to dressing up for charity balls locally, and it was nice to do so twice a week on this voyage. I never spotted anyone breaking the code on formal evenings, but then I was more interested in the people I was with. On other evenings I wore the required jacket, a pair of dark chinos, and usually no tie. For my birthday dinner, I did put on a tie - probably a Grateful Dead one :-) We didn't initially venture to the theatre for the shows, but after the nice couple at the next table gave us such good reports we gave it a go. Highly impressed with the versatility of those guys and gals, and all credit to them. A bonus was being chosen to participate in the Ready Steady Cook on the last sea day. My chef and I won, having cooked some of my favourite things namely, duck, scallops and crab. We only booked one Cunard excursion, the High Tea with Molli in Warnemünde. This was an afternoon trip and was slightly marred initially by our bus being late in arriving. Then the guide was later still, but we found out that she had been trying to find a passenger who had wandered off on her previous excursion. She and the driver did a great job of giving us our full 3½ hours and got us back to the boat with three minutes to spare! In St Petersburg we had booked the two day Grand Tour with Alla, and were highly impressed. It was two full days but we saw much more than anyone booked on Cunard excursions. Highly recommended. I'd read on Cruise Critic that the photographers can be a bit of a pest, but we found them never pushy and generally helpful. We hadn't intended to buy any photos, but when we saw some we went for the 10 pictures on CD option. There was one young lady who specialised in less formal photos and took some of in the library which looked rather good. All too soon we awoke to see Cowes outside our window, and this dream trip was coming to an end. I was interested to see how well the disembarkation would work, and have to say it was very good, We went to sit in the theatre as requested, and at the appointed time were allowed to leave and go ashore. Our luggage was quite easy to locate, although one case had been placed elsewhere in the location. Straight through Immigration where there were no officers at all, and Dave was walking into the terminal as we reached the door! Half an hour later we were home. All in all a fantastic introduction to cruising. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we booked a transatlantic crossing for October 2014 for a reunion with friends that was already planned. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My friend (1st time cruiser)and I have just returned from a short cruise to Hamburg and Le Havre on Queen Victoria. Embarkation at Southampton was completed in minutes by helpful and friendly staff..a great start to a lovely holiday. What ... Read More
My friend (1st time cruiser)and I have just returned from a short cruise to Hamburg and Le Havre on Queen Victoria. Embarkation at Southampton was completed in minutes by helpful and friendly staff..a great start to a lovely holiday. What a lovely ship, very traditional with all the usual Cunard service. The Grand Lobby entrance is beautiful and sets the tone for the rest of the ship. The food in the main restaurant and alternative dining venues was first class as was the service. Easy to find your way around not like the bigger ships. All ships personnel were exceptionally pleasant and helpful. We particularly enjoyed drinks in The Commodore Club and coffees in Cafe Corinthia. Afternoon tea in the Queens Room is an experience not to be missed. Both being football fans we were amazed to find that we did not miss any Premiership games which were showed in The Golden Lion pub or Lido and attracted a fair amount of fellow football supporters ..all good fun! We met some lovely people everyone was friendly. It was nice to always find a quiet space to sit and read a book or have quiet drink. All in all a very enjoyable & relaxing cruise. I would recommend Queen Victoria to anyone looking for an elegant, relaxing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Cunard exceeded all of our expectations!! This was our first ever cruise and taken to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, two significant birthdays and retirements so we were looking for something very special and we were not ... Read More
Cunard exceeded all of our expectations!! This was our first ever cruise and taken to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, two significant birthdays and retirements so we were looking for something very special and we were not disappointed!! THE SHIP First impressions were excellent, boarding took just 30 minutes and baggage arrived quickly. Champagne and fruit in stateroom. All environments were spotless STATEROOM Stateroom 8084 (P1) balcony state room with bath. Having stayed in hotels all over Europe and USA we were pleasantly surprised with the layout and size of the stateroom. Actually bigger than a room in 5* hotel in Venice last year! Plentiful storage space. Stateroom steward Noel was incredibly efficient, replenished fruit daily and room cleaned whilst we were at breakfast so we had use all day Also one of the quietest rooms we have stayed in STAFF Ist class, everyone we met was utterly professional, nothing seemed to be a problem and we were dealt with efficiently and with courtesy Names and preferences were remembered Meeting Captain Olsen at a reception was fun. The head chef came around tables at night on two occasions DINING Food in Princess Grill was excellent, varied, fresh and hot and fabulous waiter team, Emmanuel and Christian, nothing was too much trouble for them. We requested and had a table for two which meant we had the opportunity to meet and talk to fellow diners at adjacent tables without the restrictions of being on a table of 6 or 8 The wine waiter was knowledgeable and held over unused wine from night to night. Used Lido buffet on occasion, mainly for snacks, coffee and tea. Room service swift, very efficient and helpful FELLOW PASSENGERS Average age is circa 55+, predominantly British, middle aged, middle class married couples so not a cruise for late night ravers, "drink as much as you can" stag parties, thrill seekers, young singles or families with small children (although we did note that comprehensive facilities are provided for children) It was noticeable that all the passengers seemed to adhere to the dress code, this was part of the fun and added to the special nature of the ship. There was an emphasis on ballroom dancing in the evening so basic lessons for non dancers would be a tip ON BOARD FACILITIES Used Gym most days, well equipped, immaculate and seemingly under-used by most quests (despite copious food consumption at three full meals a day) there seemed to be a lack of staff for instructing users on equipment, we did see on elderly lady on a running machine in a long skirt and flip flops!! Caught some of the presentations for various ports of call and places to be visited, entertaining and well presented by James Anderson-Smith Shopping in Arcade was a little surreal, can't think why anyone would want to spend time to shop and pay West End London prices with so many other things to do Some contributors on this site have complained about the presence/persistence of the on board photographers but we decided to have a memento of our cruise and took a package of photographs, QV binder and DVD and therefore we were happy to have photographs taken on various nights and selected the best ENTERTAINMENT Saw three shows and found them entertaining in a amazing theatre (very reminiscent of best London theatres) and saw three films on "at sea days" A good variety of very professional music and musicians at various locations, piano, harp, orchestra and jazz. EXCURSIONS We booked bus transfers to Rome and Florence due to the distance from port but other than that made our own way at all other ports. VERY MINOR NEGATIVES The first (and only) lecture I attended ,ostensibly was on French Impressionism but after 10 minutes turned into a sales pitch for the on board art gallery where there were paintings and prints for sale by a modern day "impressionist" The system of $13 pp per day gratuity added to on board bill is explained in advance as a way to reward all staff, and that's fine however every drinks bill had a line left for additional gratuity? a little tacky? Cunard may want to re think this as there is either a blanket gratuity system in place or not. We did in fact hand envelopes (with additional thank you gratuities) to our waiters on our last morning as not actually sure what percentage of our $13 pp per day gets to them In conclusion, and despite the very small negatives, I think we are now spoilt for other cruise lines as the bar has been set so high. This is one of our best holiday experiences in 50 years .We are so pleased and impressed that we are in the process of booking with Cunard (same ship, same grade of stateroom, same Grills package) for their Eastern Mediterranean cruise in April 2013 Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We approached this holiday with a certain amount of trepidation as it was our first cruise and the reaction of friends who had experience of cruising was certainly split into 'absolutely love it' and 'hated every minute, ... Read More
We approached this holiday with a certain amount of trepidation as it was our first cruise and the reaction of friends who had experience of cruising was certainly split into 'absolutely love it' and 'hated every minute, won't be doing that again'. After considerable research we booked a 14 day Cunard Mediterranean Cruise through ROL (Readers Offers Ltd) which provided us with a Cabin upgrade and a free Car Parking Service at Southampton. We were also certainly influenced by Cunards reputation and tradition. The Cruise Ship was The Queen Victoria. The cruise was a very pleasant experience, but not without its faults, and the Jury is still out as to whether or not we would do it again. It is very easy to be super critical of an obviously extremely complicated operation (over 2000 guests to accommodate) but because its costs a considerable amount you do expect perfection. Maybe that was expecting too much. Rather than give chapter and verse on all the good things and all the bad things I have summarised below our personal opinion of the cruise and ship we went on. Pros Excellent Check in system (The Airports could maybe learn from this) 25 minutes from handing car over to sitting on Cabin balcony -- amazing! Comfortable Cabin and Balcony, well equipped and with very comfy huge bed. Superb Food and all tastes catered for. Available 24/7 Attentive and very friendly Staff/Crew Spotlessly clean (Cleaners wearing 'Back Pack' vacuum cleaners, that was a first) Confidence in Safety and Emergency procedures A big ship so never felt overcrowded, (except on sundecks and around pools see following) Comfortable bars and lounges Excellent and efficient cabin service, 10 out of 10 Interesting and varied Ports of Call Cons Atmosphere can be a bit snooty and snobbish Dining arrangements (why oh why do they insist on huge tables for 8, 10, 12) tip is to book early and reserve a table for your party (2's and 4's rare) Smoking Policy -- Guests are allowed to smoke on their cabin balcony which means if you are unfortunate enough to be downwind of smokers (we were)then your neighbours smoke blows onto your balcony , not good . There is a smoking room and this should be the only area where smoking is allowed. Lack of sufficient Sun loungers and seats around the pools and decks (Squashed in like sardines around the main pool area, very uncomfortable) Over the top, in your face, entertainment. The Operators needs to do some research into what guests actually want and not provide what the Entertainments Department think they want. Price of drinks in Bars and lounges extortionate 'Compulsory' gratuity system .( a standard fee is added automatically to your bill , can be a minimum of £250, it isn't until you speak with experienced Cruisers that you learn you can have this charge removed from your account by contacting the Purser's Office, this information is not readily available) Bathrooms are quite small, large persons would struggle with size of shower Shops to 'exclusive' and ridiculously expensive. A non shopping experience Question the need for 'sail away' parties at every port, ok if you are departing for a round the world cruise and will be away for months but not when you are in a different port every night! Plus you have to buy your own drinks !!!!! See above about cost. General Decor of Ship tacky and plasticky , It will drive you insane if you are an expert on or appreciate Art Deco Interiors ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
I had often talked of cruising the Greek Islands so for my 60th birthday, my husband booked us on the Queen Victoria, Rome to Venice, with stops in Santorini, Izmir, Istanbul, Samos, Athens, Zante, and Dubrovnik from 9-23 Sept. 2011. ... Read More
I had often talked of cruising the Greek Islands so for my 60th birthday, my husband booked us on the Queen Victoria, Rome to Venice, with stops in Santorini, Izmir, Istanbul, Samos, Athens, Zante, and Dubrovnik from 9-23 Sept. 2011. While we have never been on a cruise before, we had heard many stories from friends, one of whom referred me to cruisecritic.com. We booked with Cunard because we hoped to avoid some of the more sophomoric antics we'd read about with other cruise lines and also thought dressing for dinner might be a treat - since we have spent most of our lives in sweatshirts and jeans. Ron and I are very independent travelers, so chafe at the idea of being told when you are going to be in what port and how long you can stay, but we were open minded and ready to enjoy ourselves. We booked into a hotel in Rome a few days early to allow for time adjustment (good thing because we slept 15 hours!) and do some sightseeing, then took a taxi across town to catch the cruise line sponsored shuttle. Aside from a lengthy wait at the pick-up hotel (coffee would have been nice) we had no problems checking in. Once at the port we simply got off the bus, walked through the terminal building and onto the ship. Easy. We found our cabin with no problems. I had read some reviews that complained about the lack of space but I thought our room was quite adequate. Lots of storage under the bed for suitcases, plenty of room in the closet with lots of coat hangers, room to walk around and a couch to sit on. Yes, the shower was a bit small, but it is, after all, a ship. How big is the shower in an RV? We toured the ship - very nice, but then I had nothing else to compare it to - and realized we were forward on deck 6, while most of the eating was aft on decks 8 & 2/3. That was great because it forced us to walk! Food, for the most part, was excellent. You can't bat 1000 all the time, so a few not-so-hot meals were to be expected. Portions were small, and since I'd been on Weight Watchers, I really appreciated it. We were second seating in the Britannia at a table for 6. Had lovely dinner companions, which made coming "home" after a day of touring a lot of fun as we could compare notes on what we'd done each day. Actually, I should tell you that the first night, there was a couple at our table that we didn't care for all that much, but what the heck. We figured we could make it work. Evidently, they really didn't like us because the next night they were replaced by a lovely English couple so it turned out OK in the end. Both of the other couples had been on many cruises so we were able to ask them about their experiences. I was a little concerned that the ship would feel crowded but there were many times when Ron and I were alone in the Commodore Lounge and felt like we had our own private yacht! There were so many places to be and so many things to do that no one place was ever really all that crowded - except when people were meeting up to do port tours or to disembark. Tea in the Queen's Room was delightful. There was often a harpist or string quartet playing so if your tastes run more toward grunge music, hard rock or rap, the Cunard ships are probably not your best choice. Unfortunately, I was sick and missed the cruisecrite.com meet and greet our first sea day. We didn't do any of the spa things or eat our evening meals in any of the other restaurants. We liked breakfast at the Lido buffet, since it was more casual and we could select what we wanted rather than chose from a pre-set menu with formal service, which allowed us to either eat quickly or linger over coffee. Typically, we ate lunch at the Golden Lion Pub. The ship photographers were everywhere, but at $24.95 a pop, we ended up only buying one photo. If they had been less expensive, I probably would have purchased a few more. I know they print them up and lose money if you don't buy, but if they'd drop the price to something more reasonable, I'd bet they'd sell more (so less waste and more profit). Just couldn't justify spending that much on a photo. The lectures that were presented on the ports were nothing more than an infomercial for the tours. I thought this was pretty bad. Tell me about where I'm going - get me excited about what is there - I can read a brochure and select which tour I want to take myself. Information was redundant because many of the tours go to the same places. Also, the person doing the port info strongly recommended against taking the mules up the hill from the port in Santorini - so, of course, we took the mules. That was THE MOST FUN we had the whole trip. What a hoot! We laughed and laughed. It was a heck of a lot better than waiting forever in the long line for the cable cars. Just because he had a bad experience once, doesn't mean it will happen to everyone else, every time. Ron and I did not participate in any of the balls or dancing, except to watch, but there was dance instruction available. Library was terrific. One thing that was a problem was the laundry. It was often full and if you weren't there when a machine opened up, you missed out. People would hog machines and the ironing board and would take your clothes out of the dryer before they were dry if they wanted the dryer and you weren't there to stop them. Chaise lounge hogs on deck were also annoying. At dinner one night we complained that we'd tried to go to the pool but there was no where to sit. Our tablemates told us of seeing a woman in the morning grab 8 towels and put them on 8 loungers, then she left. They were there several hours, reading, and she never returned. 4:30 in the afternoon, the towels were still exactly where she'd put them - never been moved. How selfish. We went on 3 ship sponsored shore excursions - 2 in Turkey and one in Athens. The tours in Turkey were both done by the same vendor and were NOT good. I hope Cunard drops them and finds something better. We booked the tour in Athens to the Acropolis and the guide there was quite knowledgeable. Most ports we simply went ashore and explored on our own. I worried that we would get stuck some place and the ship would leave without us if we didn't take a ship sponsored tour. Could happen - especially considering the economic turmoil and possible strike actions - so we probably could have done more than we did. One of our goals for this cruise was to see if we wanted to go back, and it answered that for us. I'd go back to Greece and Turkey in a flash - Italy, no. Oh - the WORST thing was the flea market set up every night around the shops. This was really, really tacky and not what I expected of Cunard. They set out tables of "sale" items - reminded me of buying a street watch from a vendor in Washington, DC. A couple of times during the cruise might have been OK to have a "sale" but not every night. I know they are trying to separate you from your money any way they can but it could be done with a little more subtlety and finesse. On the whole, I thought cruising was OK. It was nice to get up in the morning, go to breakfast that's already made, with no clean-up for me to do, go back to the room to find the bed is made and the cabin is neat and clean. Not having to worry about what to make for lunch or dinner, with no prep or clean-up was a nice change. It was also nice to get dressed up for dinner, although by the end of the cruise my husband could no longer fit into his tux! One thing they did, though, was ask that your bags be packed and in the hall as early as 5 PM - but men were supposed to have a jacket for dinner that night. Might be good if they relaxed that regulation for the last night, so bags could be packed. Dress code wasn't hard to follow and because there is so much cultural diversity, the definition of "formal" and "elegant casual" can have wide range of meaning. People watching was the most fun - especially ABBA night where one woman wore a totally sheer gown with sequins in the necessary places. So - there's not much work to do on a cruise - just what you want to do to enjoy yourself. There's nothing to stress about. I would go on another cruise if the price was right; I had nothing better to do; it went some place I'd always wanted to go (Alaska?) but I don't know that I'd actively seek out another cruise unless I was too old or infirm to do anything else. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
It was difficult to find fault with the Queen Victoria and the cruise. My partner and I had a spacious Queen's Grill suite with a huge balcony (at the aft). We can't understand why mid-ships is so much more popular, especially in ... Read More
It was difficult to find fault with the Queen Victoria and the cruise. My partner and I had a spacious Queen's Grill suite with a huge balcony (at the aft). We can't understand why mid-ships is so much more popular, especially in calm -��" or mostly calm -��" summer waters. Aft suites provided balconies much larger than those on the side of the ship. Inside, we had a three-seater sofa-bed and two arm chairs in the sitting area, along with the usual desk, sink, bar, etc. The bathroom was superb too. The whirlpool bath was roomy, the shower large, and it was all cleaned immaculately twice a day. One evening we had drinks with fellow-diners in a Q2 suite, where their jacuzzi had a sea-view, but this isn't the place for giving vent to my envy. We had booked Q7, although most ship plans showed these suites to be Q4 or Q5. This was our first cruise and reading reviews and blogs before we went was a great help. We followed the advice of seasoned cruisers and checked in for embarkation as soon as it opened. QG meant we were the first on board. That gave us an hour to begin exploring this very elegant ship before having an excellent lunch on the Grills Terrace. We asked our butler to do the unpacking (another blog tip). Cunard's attitude always seems to be "let's see if we can make it possible" rather than "we don't do that". Hence when we requested Bombay Sapphire gin and Campari as our two complimentary bottles of spirits, they were provided, even though not on the list of choices. When we asked for orange juice in our mini bar, it was then provided every day. (One of the treats of QG: mixers, lager, soft drinks & bottled water all provided in the suite at no additional charge.) Morning coffee, which we had brought to wake us each day, was disgusting, so we asked for filter coffee (which wasn't on the breakfast menu) so this was brought instead, and was very good. Throughout the ship, we found staff at every level to be polite, friendly and warm. They would invariably greet guests in passing, and they worked extremely hard. Service in the Grills restaurant was outstanding. The waiters knew not only how to serve, but how to arrange food, and the Matre d' and Head Waiter were brilliant at finishing and flambeing as well. We asked for tap water with our meals and skim milk with coffee, and it was provided from there on without the need to ask again. The sommelier was as knowledgeable as one would expect him to be and, having gauged the kind of price we were prepared to pay for a bottle of wine (none was inexpensive and some was astonishing!), rarely suggested anything over-budget. In Istanbul, after an afternoon's hot and crowded sight-seeing, we were too shattered to bother dressing for dinner so ordered room service from the Grills menu. Our butler duly laid the table on our balcony, asked if we would like each course brought separately or together, and we dined in style, wrapped in fluffy bathrobes, and watching the lights come up over Istanbul. Every evening canapes were brought to our suite, and having once asked for crisps, these subsequently came every day. On several occasions we invited others in for pre-dinner drinks. Then we had only to ask, and additional glasses and extra canapes appeared, again at no charge. We only booked one ship's excursion (Corinth Canal and Ancient Corinth). This was very good, but we aren't coach party people and being led around by a guide holding up a numbered paddle isn't really our thing. Again, thanks to the blogs and research, we booked two tours independently on the web: one we did as a twosome; on the other, the tour operator got us to coordinate with 2 other couples, which worked out very happily, and at $US50 per head, this was also cheaper than the ship's tours. At other ports we explored independently, either on foot, or, in Naples, by catching the train to Pompeii. All this independent stuff is fine as long as you allow plenty of time to get back to the ship. If you're late, they will sail without you, and you're responsible for getting yourself to the next port. There were several days when we had urgent announcements calling for passengers to present themselves to the pursers' desk. Comparing tour experiences with others at our dinner table, our decision to do most of the exploring independently was clearly the right one. If you aren't an active person, used to independent travel, the ship's tours provide security, but otherwise, do it yourself. On the Grills' sundecks ice creams were brought around during the afternoon, followed by sandwiches at tea time. Afternoon tea in the Grills Lounge was also quite sumptuous, although it was easy to overdo it and have to go lightly at dinner time! I think others have sounded murmurs about the absence of comfy padded deck chairs on the upper deck: they are absolutely right, which is a bit poor of Cunard. And did we put on lots of weight? Well, I managed to gain 3kg, while my partner -��" disgracefully -��" gained nothing. This was thanks in part to lots of shore excursions with a fair bit of walking, and also to following the tip of friends, which was never to use the lift. We did arrive at breakfast and dinner (and sometimes lunch) a little out of breath, but it clearly paid off. There were only three sea days on the Pearls of the Black Sea cruise, which ended up feeling too few. We wanted a cruise that visited interesting places, but there were always so many interesting things to do on board, apart from lazily reading in the sun, which was itself a priority. The lecturers and speakers were extremely good (and Robert Powell particularly). The evening shows were fun, if sometimes rather strained in their themes, and the singers and dancers high quality. Our complaints? They're minor, really. There were far too few self-laundering facilities. Three washing machines, three tumble driers and one iron & board per deck was paltry and usually meant queues, although this made the laundry often quite a sociable place too, even if you'd much rather be elsewhere on a glorious summer's day at sea. Dry cleaning was actually cheaper than we would pay at home. One of our suitcases didn't turn up until almost dinner time, and no explanation was ever given, although our butler did a sterling job at running around until he located it. So would we go again? Yes, please.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) and travel internationally almost every year, however; cruising on the Queen Victoria was definitely the best holiday we have ever had! Right from the start, we had a good feeling. ... Read More
We are a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) and travel internationally almost every year, however; cruising on the Queen Victoria was definitely the best holiday we have ever had! Right from the start, we had a good feeling. We flew into Heathrow and were driven down to Southampton in a little over an hour. We arrived at Southampton terminal thinking we would have to wait with our luggage until it was our scheduled time to embark. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we could drop our luggage off with the porters (located on the outside of the check-in building) and walk into town for a couple hours to shop. Upon returning to the terminal, we went through the necessary steps to embark and were shown directly to our inside quad cabin. We were expecting a small room but were quite impressed with the large, roominess of the cabin. My husband and I had twins beds joined together and the children slept in a bunk bed (converted sofa with pullman above). The bathroom was a little on the small side though and negotiating all of us for the shower was a bit time consuming, but manageable. We discovered that toilet visits were easily managed for a family of four, by using the many clean public facilities too. It must also be noted that drinking water from the bathroom taps was discouraged and we soon found out that to avoid paying exorbitant prices for bottled water, we could simply ask our cabin steward for water to be placed daily in our room (free of charge). Rooms were very clean and towels changed twice daily. Our steward was very helpful with all our questions and we rarely returned to our cabin after breakfast to find it unmade. We registered both children into the kids club but unfortunately they were in separate age groups. We found this to be quite a sore point as our youngest child was only 6 days from turning seven, which would have entitled him to participate with the 7+ age group, where his sister and cousins were. It was quite frustrating and even after many conversations with management, it was still a policy that was enforced; sad. The friendliness of staff in the restaurants and bars was incredible. Nothing seemed too difficult; in fact, it was the staff who served us drinks and food that made the cruise the luxurious cruise that it is known for. Our names were always remembered, including favourite drinks! The staff morale in the Britannia Restaurant and the Commodore Club was exceptional; in fact, the highlight of every day. They wanted to serve and make our experience the best we would ever have. The food was fantastic. My husband and I are real foodies and eat out a couple times each week. The food on the Britannia was of a very high standard. The serving sizes were perfect and the times in between courses worked very well for us with children (we pre-booked a table for the early seating at 6). Food, food, food. I can't believe how much we ate. Next time I will be taking sneakers and using the gym; daily! The Lido buffet on the other hand was an area that I tried to avoid. Peace and tranquility it was not, so we only ate breakfast there and chose the Pub or by the pool as alternative lunchtime eating spots. It must be noted that the breakfast food was quite good in the Lido, just very rushed and busy, as most days we were rushing off for port excursions. On our next cruise I will be ordering room service for breakfast or choosing the smaller cafes or Britannia restaurant. Afternoon tea was wonderful! The traditional silver service with strings unobtrusively playing in the background was memorable to say the least. But beware, do not turn up even 5 minutes after the official starting time as you will end up standing in a queue; that is, on the days at sea. My favourite part of the ship was definitely the Commodore Club. The views from there were totally spectacular. The Norwegian Fjords were just breathtakingly beautiful. Once again, the service and peacefulness in the Commodore Club was the icing on the cake each evening (whilst the kids were taken care of in The Zone & Play Zone up until midnight every night!) My husband and I felt so free and totally pampered - a real treat for us. Entertainment on board any ship often leaves alot to be desired (I'm told), but the entertainment on board the Queen Victoria was pleasant enough - the theatre was a stunning old world venue with traditional theatre boxes too. There were self service laundries on board which were free of charge. I managed to avoid the rush by dropping in a load before heading off to breakfast each morning; no problem.Stavanger is a picturesque port with timber, quaint houses dotted everywhere. Unfortunately, the day we arrived was Sunday and therefore all the interesting shops were closed. Due to an industrial issue at the port, we were late to arrive and missed our scheduled excursion (which we were reimbursed for at the end of the cruise), but quickly booked our own tour once we disembarked for the day. This ended up being a much cheaper alternative and we saved a considerable amount of money. Beware, Norway is very, very expensive. A cup of decent coffee (espresso) was approximately AUD$7.00. The walk up the hill to the right, of the town was pretty and interesting. The boat trip out to Pulpit Rock was definitely worth the effort, regardless of the weather-(it was raining for us and we still enjoyed the trip). Next port is Geiranger. We booked an 8hr tour and were a little anxious that it would be far too long. We needn't have worried; it was the best day ever! Apparently we had the best weather too. We went right up to Dalsnibba then right around to Hellesylt and caught a ferry back to our ship. Our tour guide on the coach was fabulous; kept us all interested and informed with his wit and humour. The views on this excursion surpassed everything that I imagined Norway to be. Norway is certainly the most pristine, beautiful place I have ever been to. The remoteness adds to the attraction too. The warmth of the sun against the clear sparkling lakes and snowy mountains will always be remembered. Booking a tour is imperative as Geiranger is quite a remote area and you really can't do your own thing there. Pay the money and enjoy! Disembarking...we chose to carry our own bags. We got straight off and straight into a cab up to London (cheaper than taking a train and saved a lot of time too); too easy! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
on arriving at the port of rome, full of expectation and non-relaxed, we quickly and painlessly went through proceedures and were soon in our cabin on deck 8; opened the door and felt we were in such a small cabin for a cruise - it looks ... Read More
on arriving at the port of rome, full of expectation and non-relaxed, we quickly and painlessly went through proceedures and were soon in our cabin on deck 8; opened the door and felt we were in such a small cabin for a cruise - it looks bigger from photos, but it was well equiped and smart with a good sized balcony. there was sparkling wine !! we were totally unprepared for what it was all about, poeple were everywhere. we didnt feel happy! on arrival at the first evening dinner i had confrontation with the maitre d as we had asked to sit with other poeple (8) but were offered a table for 2 or possibly 4. i questioned him but he fobbed us off with "many poeple want to sit together"; it was take it or leave it - not a caring attitude towards first time cruisers! to add insult to injury, 2 nights later when we had gotten used to our very good waiters, we were asked to move to a worse table near the entrance for a group of 4 who wanted to sit together - i would not move! at the captains cocktail party the "known croud" gathered in the centre of the room showing off, we were never spoken to, had our photo taken or made to feel welcomed. the english guests were so snotty generally and could be quite above themselves whereas the new zealanders, australians, canadians,some americans were more friendly. it was very pretentious for what it was. the staff were great, especially the waiters,sportspoeple,bar staff and stewards. food was plenty and varied, the lido restuarant was good for self service but we went for luxury and the food in the huge brittania restaurant was good but nothing very special. too often in the ports of call there was not the onshore time available to see enough especially istanbul, but it was nice. the entertainment was excellent and a good mix, victoriana night was fabulous - well done amanda! the trip was good and relaxing but it wasnt fabulous. on arrival at venice we were sent off the cruise ship 2 hours too early for our transport (no seating here) had to wait at airport from 10am to 4-50pm!!! overall the cruise was good ( with some notable exceptions ) tea and cakes in the Queens room each day was lovely - great service and delicious cakes. the most wonderfull arrival was into venice by the grand canal. the theatre is exceptional as were many of the shows, and the entertainers in the other areas were excellent if unthanked, as they were just "there". bathroom small but very adequate and nicely equiped with toiletries. we would have been much happier if there was more of a welcome for first time cruisers who dont know what to do or expect and a little less of a pecking order amongst guests! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Overall, both my wife and I enjoyed a comfortable and fascinating tour of the Baltic on this elegant and well appointed liner. We did however come to feel that Cunard is so preoccupied with turning a profit that the cruise experience was ... Read More
Overall, both my wife and I enjoyed a comfortable and fascinating tour of the Baltic on this elegant and well appointed liner. We did however come to feel that Cunard is so preoccupied with turning a profit that the cruise experience was cheapened for its guests, most of whom have already paid a premium price for their holiday. For example, on the final day of the voyage, my wife booked a 'relaxing head massage' at the Royal Spa that had been advertised at a price of $35. Throughout the massage, the masseuse politely but persistently tried to sell my wife beauty products that she neither wanted nor needed. The masseuse then presented my wife with a bill in excess of $50. To cut a long story short, my wife spoke to the manager and found that she'd been lied to. The price difference of $15 or so was less significant than the masseuse's determination to make money out a guest even if that meant lying. On a similar theme, I noticed bottled water being offered to guests at the assembly points for the shore excursions we took in St Petersburg during western Russia's heat wave. On closer inspection, it was clear that Cunard was in fact selling bottled water to guests at patently inflated prices. I neither needed nor expected water to be provided. Yet what I had taken as a thoughtful gesture towards guests who had paid about $200 per head for the day turned out to be yet another attempt to turn a quick profit. Likewise, while the daily programmes were immensely helpful, the travel advice was heavily skewed towards helping Cunard profit from on-board currency exchange. It didn't mention that many Scandinavian vendors accept the Euro, while Russian vendors accept the Euro or the US Dollar. Nor did it mention that in most cases, it is cheaper and more practical by far to use one of the various credit cards that don't charge foreign transaction fees. Purchasing six local currencies at on-board rates could make for an unnecessarily expensive holiday. Once again, Cunard plainly didn't have its guests' best interests at heart. We were also troubled by the fact that US Dollars were required for gambling in the on-board casino. We had assumed that 'cruise dollars' could be exchanged for chips or tokens as nothing in the pre-voyage documentation said otherwise. We gambled only rarely to avoid paying Cunard's inflated commission on US Dollars. I do appreciate that Cunard is a profit-making business. However, it is difficult to square the culture of class and elegance to which Cunard aspires with its persistent and often blatant chiselling at the wallets of guests. I have a number of other observations to make: • The gym has been very badly designed - the combination of low ceiling and large cardio machines meant that no man much above 6' in height could use anything other than the exercise bikes; • The free seminars offered by the gym staff began with some grains of good sense but quickly degenerated into boasting, scaremongering and pseudo-scientific sales pitches for individual consultations - because the gym staff were obliged to earn commissions, they seemed to have little time to look after gym-using guests, many of whom were overweight, frail or both, and using the gym inexpertly - as in the Royal Spa, gym staff were overwhelmingly focussed on their commission; • The atmosphere on the sun decks and in the Lido was spoiled for me by the use of pre-recorded, background music - this is tacky and not at all classy - in any case, if I'm relaxing in the sun, I don't want to be force-fed someone else's idea of pleasant music; • Our stateroom lacked the means for us to make tea or coffee, a major omission for what purports to be a classically British (albeit American-owned) liner - I appreciate that room service was available for a small fee, but I didn't want to have to ask someone else for something as basic as a cup of tea; • The acts hired in by Cunard as evening entertainment were generally excellent, particularly John Evans and CrazeeHorse. However, the Cunard in-house productions were generally dire, with the impressive exception of the dance showcase. While the dancers and musicians were certainly expert and the singers proficient, the musicals were without exception leaden, poorly written and wholly dependent on lazy clichEs - we quickly learned that a Cunard night in the theatre would be amateur hour. • We felt it unfortunate that the itinerary only allowed us about six hours in Oslo, a city boasting many unique attractions, compared to a full day in tiny Kristiansand and two full days in Copenhagen - whatever Cunard's reasons for this arrangement, P&O's Arcadia, which almost mirrored our itinerary, seemed to manage this issue better and find better berths. Overall, penny-pinching seriously compromised the Cunard experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Our first cruise and what an excellent choice we made! We found the whole experienced exceeded our expectations and found the ship, stateroom and staff to be all exceptional. We had booked a Guarantee Balcony A7 stateroom and were amazed ... Read More
Our first cruise and what an excellent choice we made! We found the whole experienced exceeded our expectations and found the ship, stateroom and staff to be all exceptional. We had booked a Guarantee Balcony A7 stateroom and were amazed to be upgraded to a A3 on Deck 7. We ate in the Britannia, first sitting and would probably try second sitting next time as we didn't have enough time getting back from ports on some of the days and missed out on afternoon tea as well. We did get to the early shows though. The food was fabulous in the Britannia and equally so in the Lido where we had most of our other meals including a couple in the evenings. We always told our waiter or our other table guests that we wouldn't be eating in the Britannia so as to not keep them waiting for their food. Most evenings in the Lido had a theme like Indian, British, Italian, Carvery etc and you help yourself so can eat what you like. Very tempting! We only had lunch once in Britannia and were directed to a table next to the kitchen door in a practically empty restaurant. We quickly insisted that we wanted to be on a table by a window and were given one. (The view was over containers in the port when the other side of the ship had a better view, but we didn't make another fuss) All in all, the food and service were outstanding. We only did one excursion, the Edinburgh on your own. We booked this as the ship was supposed to dock in Rosyth which doesn't have good links to Edinburgh, but the itinerary was changed (without informing us) to South Queensferry which had a £6 train ride straight to Waverley station. At all the other ports we did our own thing, using the Hop On, Hop Off buses to get around. In Liverpool we booked our own FabFourTour taxi which was amazing at £50 for 3 hours. Liverpool was a really special day, apart from the rain! We also did not realise that this cruise was to celebrate the 170th Anniversary of Cunard. We missed HRH who arrived late, which meant that us and many other passengers could not get back on the ship and were stranded dockside in torrential rain for an hour. We took refuge in a nearby hotel lounge. This didn't spoil the day which culminated in the wonderful Halle Concert, Beatles Celebration and fireworks. We enjoyed the opera and classical entertainment, also the jazz sessions. Light variety is not our thing but we did go to some of the Royal Court Showtimes which we thought were of good standard. In our opinion, the entertainment is aimed at the older age group. Although not an important feature of a cruise, the television programmes could be improved by having more choice/variety of programme and more British films and Classic films. Our pet gripe on the TV was the presenter of Rise'n'shine and the presenter of the Tours information. All in all, we had a super holiday and are now looking forward to our second cruise on Azamara Quest. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
As my husband was recovering from two major operations, and an intensive course of IMRT we decided that a cruise provided the ideal opportunity to convalesce. Cunard and the Queen Victoria did not dissapoint. The organisation was superb ... Read More
As my husband was recovering from two major operations, and an intensive course of IMRT we decided that a cruise provided the ideal opportunity to convalesce. Cunard and the Queen Victoria did not dissapoint. The organisation was superb from embarkation to disembarkation. Within an hour and a half of checking in I had unpacked our suitcases and we cracked open the complimentary bottle of champagne to toast what we hoped would be a great experience. Our balcony stateroom was an adequate size, and careful thought had gone into the ergonomic design. There was space for all the luggage we had taken, the drawers in the dressing table were perfect for all cosmetic and hairdressing products. The public rooms were well designed, comfortable, and absorbed all the passengers. Nowhere ever felt crowded. We ate in the formal Britannia Restaurant a couple of times, our dinning companions were excelelent company. However, due to my husband's post IMRT swallowing difficulties it became easier for us to eat in the excellent Lido buffet restaurant. After explaining my husbands medical condition to the highly professional Assistant Hotel Manager we were introduced to the 3 Lido chefs who in negotiation with my husband produced specially created soft food dishes. Nothing was too much trouble. We could not have been better looked after. Fortunately I was able to enjoy all the excellent food. I also used the gym and the spa facilities, and would go back on the Queen Victoria, regardless of destination just to experience the fantastic Oxygen facials, and aromatherapy facials. The aim of our cruise was for us both to relax, and get back into a life free from the tyranny of medical appointments. Not only was our aim achieved but it was supassed. We intend to cruise with Cunard again when my husband can fully appreciate the food. The disembarkation process was as efficient as embarkation, within less than an hour of leaving our cabins we had been reunited with our luggage and had been picked up by our friends. A no fly cruise makes travelling a far more pleasant experience than the lengthy waits at Airports. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Queen Victoria Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 3.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.7
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.7

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