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241 Cunard Queen Victoria Luxury Cruise Reviews

Perhaps we were lucky, but our cruise exceeded our expectations,especially after reading quite a few negative reviews.As first time cruisers we were looking forward to travelling on the Queen Victoria. We travelled down from Scotland by ... Read More
Perhaps we were lucky, but our cruise exceeded our expectations,especially after reading quite a few negative reviews.As first time cruisers we were looking forward to travelling on the Queen Victoria. We travelled down from Scotland by car and stayed at The Hilton overnight, where we were able to leave the vehicle as part of the deal, so that suited us very well. Our luggage was taken away overnight and next morning a courtesy bus took us to the ship. Embarkation seemed smooth and well-organised, meaning that we were soon on board where we were greeted by smiling staff who helped us to find our cabin on deck 8. On entering, we found flowers, champagne, chocolates and an anniversary greeting from the captain and the hotel manager. That was a lovely welcome and we thought the cabin was perfectly fine for the two of us. We even managed to get three suitcases into the wardrobe and all our clothes had plenty of hanging space. The three drawers either side of the king-size bed were very useful,the bathroom was well equipped, the sofa comfortable for relaxing and the balcony was wonderful at all times. It was a bit of a crush sometimes with wardrobe doors versus the bathroom door, but so what? We just had a laugh about it! The service all over the ship was excellent in our eyes and nothing was too much trouble for the staff, including our capable steward, Gio. The dining staff were all very efficient which made our evening meals extremely pleasant with very little waiting for food to appear. Although we'd requested second sitting, our first evening was down for the early meal, which was a bit rushed but not a problem. However,there was a note outside our cabin next day saying that we'd now been allocated a place at the second sitting and that worked out very happily as we shared our table with two delightful couples. We hit it off immediately and after each evening meal ajourned to the theatre, the ballroom or one of the bars. We all agreed that the standard of food in the Britannia Restaurant was exceptionally good, given that this was,in reality, mass catering.Plenty of choice on every menu, variations if requested and hot, well presented dishes every evening made us all extremely happy. We ate our anniversary dinner in the Todd English restaurant and that was well worth the extra payment as it was a lovely, intimate dining room with wonderful food and attentive, friendly staff. The anniversary cake was special too, although we didn't eat it at the time and had it delivered to our stateroom,where it arrived rather late with a singing waiter! We took breakfast and lunch in the Lido each day and were more than pleased with a terrific selection of dishes, though the hot meals tended to be a bit luke warm. Even though there were lots of passengers eating in the Lido, we always managed to find seats and it never appeared overcrowded. The daily paper with a list of activities was ideal and there was so much to do on the ship that we were never bored. The three lecturers were all interesting speakers and we particularly enjoyed Martin Bell's talks. The different demonstrations were all fascinating, especially when the chefs made beef wellington and then it was on the evening menu....delicious. The shows in the theatre were top notch and very professional; most enjoyable. Perhaps the art auctions were somewhat unecessary, the market stalls a little tacky and the casino a smoke hazard, but one didn't have to partake and that's the joy of freedom of choice. We only took two excursions and they were very good, but the shuttle buses were grand for doing your own thing.It was exceptionally hot in Florence and Rome, even for August, and we did wilt by lunchtime so we were quite glad to return to the air-conditioned ship. Tenders and security arrangements seemed adequate at each port. My husband's only gripe was the 15% on all drinks, even coffees, and the space for an extra gratuity. My only complaint was.........well, maybe I'll think of something eventually! Overall it was a fantastic cruise and we both loved every minute of it. Oh yes, thought of something which wasn't perfect......the chaos when we disembarked to face a hanger full of suitcases and people pushing trolleys in all directions! That was hell and all those lovely, friendly passengers changed into rude, aggressive maniacs! But,hey,we were still in holiday mode and kept smiling! Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
What was supposed to be the highlight of my 60th Birthday year turned out to be a little disappointing. The ship is badly laid out, the shops have no interesting stock and the special sales are overpriced kitsch. Our cabin was much ... Read More
What was supposed to be the highlight of my 60th Birthday year turned out to be a little disappointing. The ship is badly laid out, the shops have no interesting stock and the special sales are overpriced kitsch. Our cabin was much smaller than we have experienced on other cruises with Celebrity and P&O, however we have never had so many coat hangers on any cruise, pity there was no room in the wardrobes to use them. Our waiters and the wine waiter at dinner were superb and attentive to our every need. At breakfast it was a different story the waitresses were completely off hand and often forgot to bring what we ordered - their comment were always YOU NEVER ORDERED THAT - what a way to serve customers. Cunard claim the ship to be 5 star - I think it is more like 3. Entertainment is the worst I have seen on any cruise, with the guest entertainers being of the worst type - I know better jokes than the ttwo guest comedians who should have been made to walk the plant after their perforances. The costumes were lovely and the dancers superb pity there was no story to any of the shows and the singers could not sing. The Cruise Director was the worst I have ever met. Most ports of call were excellent except Kristiansand which was a complete waste of time and it should have been Oslo instead. In summary think before you book Cunard - you are paying for a name and not getting the service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout ... Read More
We have just returned from a 12 day canary island cruise on the Cunard Queen Victoria.The water was a little rough for about 8 of the days and the ship really cant handle it.There was a constant rolling motion and loud banging throughout the night.We dont get seasick but many people on board were ill for most of the trip.We have been in rougher seas on other ships and never had this problem,so there was much speculation amongst the passengers as to why a big newer ship would be like this.The cabin was of average size,but I thought the bathroom was tiny even by cruiseship standards.The food was just Ok.I cruised on Celebrity Constellation last year,and thought the food was by far superior on Celebrity.It seemed to be an even older crowd than most cruises we have been on and needless to say any excursions we booked that indicated a little adventure,were cancelled due to lack of interest.In all fairness this happens a lot on the cruises we have been on.Due to a passenger having a medial emergency and the rough seas we were behind in schedule and one of our ports of call had to be cancelled,which was a disappointment but not the fault of Cunard.In Cunards favour ,their staff are very efficient and attentive and embarking and disembarking are the best of any cruise line.Their entertainment is top notch and varied.In closing I guess with Cunards long standing reputation,I really expected more but I found them only average compared to other lines Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We knew that Cunard appealed to older clientele but surprised at just how old the vast majority of passengers were. Not many of the activities on board would appeal to anyone below their seventies - enrichment lectures very dull and ... Read More
We knew that Cunard appealed to older clientele but surprised at just how old the vast majority of passengers were. Not many of the activities on board would appeal to anyone below their seventies - enrichment lectures very dull and unimaginative. Theatre really beautiful but shows very poor - a bit end of the pier. Shopping on board not good, quite tacky in fact. Excellent embarkation and disembarkation at all times. The ship new and very tidy but lacking in any real atmosphere or wow factor. Food and services in restaurants OK but not outstanding. Food quite similar every night in Queens grill quite hard to find something really wanted to eat by the end of the cruise. Lido restaurant was good and staff very efficient. Cabin supposedly 3rd best on ship and although comfortable and not cramped by any means did not have the wow factor we were expecting. Would not book with Cunard again but would choose Crystal or Oceania much less stuffy, much more mixed clientele and real luxury.. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
ACTUAL ITINERARY 19-Dec-09 SAT Southampton, England 20-Dec-09 SUN At Sea 21-Dec-09 MON La Coruna, Spain 22-Dec-09 TUES Lisbon, Portugal 23-Dec-09 WED At Sea- Skipping Cadiz & Gibraltar 24-Dec-09 THUR Malaga- unscheduled 25-Dec-09 FRI ... Read More
ACTUAL ITINERARY 19-Dec-09 SAT Southampton, England 20-Dec-09 SUN At Sea 21-Dec-09 MON La Coruna, Spain 22-Dec-09 TUES Lisbon, Portugal 23-Dec-09 WED At Sea- Skipping Cadiz & Gibraltar 24-Dec-09 THUR Malaga- unscheduled 25-Dec-09 FRI At Sea 26-Dec-09 SAT Lanzarote, Canary Islands 27-Dec-09 SUN Gran Canaria (LasPalmas) 28-Dec-09 MON Santa Cruz, Tenerife, 29-Dec-09 TUES Santa Cruz, La Palma, 30-Dec-09 WED At Sea- unscheduled 31-Dec-09 THUR Funchal, Madeira 01-Jan-10 FRI At Sea 02-Jan-10 SAT At Sea 03-Jan-10 SUN At Sea 04-Jan-10 MON Southampton, England The weather was cold and snowy on the way from Cheshire to Southampton but we managed to drive there without a hitch. Staying at the Holiday in overnight was good and the short taxi journey in the morning easy. The temperature was a sunny minus 4 degrees. Due to nearly two thousand people boarding at once the embarkation took some time but was handled efficiently. We went to our stateroom 4153 and then for lunch in the Lido Restaurant while the luggage found it's way to our room. As we had been on the Queen Victoria in November 2007 we could find our way around this beautiful ship with ease and after unpacking went to the Golden Lion Pub for a swift drink before dressing for dinner. In the Britannia Restaurant our fellow table guests were Mary and Roy Payne and Norman and Eileen Woolley. We got to know each other and chatted a lot through a good meal. The luxurious Commodore Club piano bar was a relaxing end to the evening. Crossing the Bay of Biscay for a day was smooth and Dinner was a formal affair which I joined alone as Mary had a digestive problem. La Coruna's lovely marina greeted us as we opened the curtains, with its intricately fenestrated buildings hugging the shore. The cloudy sky seemed threatening but with brollies at the ready we explored this very civilised prosperous town, with lots of cafes and speciality shops, which have sadly become extinct in most cities today. Mary joined us all at the formal dinner, which was at a new table as ours was in a cold zone. Our waiters here were Eric and Nell from the Philippines, who turned out to be very efficient, genuinely friendly and unobtrusive. The sea became angry as we sailed out and became worse later, so we retired for the night. During the night we were thrown around. Although the Captain reported that most ports on the Spanish Peninsular were refusing to accept ships due to very rough conditions, we were very relieved to dock in Lisbon only one hour late. Walking to a nearby station We bought return tickets to Cascais along the beautiful coast for only 3.75 euros return. There it was a sunny calm day and walking around this small port was very enjoyable. Returning to Lisbon after a few hours we visited the Chiado a classy shopping district and moseyed down into the Praçado Rossio with all it's characters and then Praçado Comercio before returning to the Victoria. I strongly recommend this journey of discovery rather than the expensive, shepherded ship's tours. As the ship pulled out at 5.30pm the captain announced that the sea was going to be very rough again and he wasn't certain that Gibraltar could accept us but would determine that in the morning. The port was currently not accepting vessels due to the weather problems and most of the ports on the Atlantic coast of the Peninsular were closed due to excessively heavy seas. Another ship in Lisbon, the P&O Aurora, had decided to stay in port! Woe for us! As we left the estuary and hit the sea the problem became very clear. Another great dinner and a visit to the Golden Lion finished the night off as the ship ploughed through the high swells. During a night of increasing turbulence, we awoke at 3.00am to a big clattering of flying objects and the ship suddenly shook. I got out of bed to find the ship listing to port about 10 degrees and holding that odd angle. Fearing that it had become unstable we dressed and waited for news. After 20 minutes the list decreased slowly to normal and became steady. We slept in our clothes. Although we should have visited Cadiz and Gibraltar, we stayed at sea for two nights of rocking and rolling. After breakfast at 10.30am, the captain reported that during the night he had changed course to the South West to veer away from the worst weather but that we had been in a severe wind of up to 115 miles per hour in swells between 10 and 12 metres. Gibraltar was closed to all shipping so he had decided to go through the Straits to Malaga and we should arrive at 6.00pm and stay for 24 hours. Malagar is a buzzing city with excellent old architecture and shops and we strolled around for hours. Back on board we went for a late steak and mushroom pie lunch at the Golden Lion and up to the Winter Garden room for a relaxing read. We hit the Med and the ship recommenced it's allotted bounce and lurch routine. The banter around the table at yet another formal dinner on Christmas Eve was very enjoyable. A slightly mad Italian tenor and John Martin, an hilarious Scouce comedian entertained us royally in the theatre, then we retired to bed for a night of pitching and rolling. We woke early on Christmas morning to a lightning display and heavy rain. The sea had decided to deny us a peaceful day. Gale force 8 at Mid-day. At breakfast we were joined by an elderly German lady and her, not quite as elderly, very domineering 'NAZI' carer who embarked on a serious Christmas day breakfast argument. Entertaining though it was, we left before the slaughter began- to avoid the bloodshed. The ship seemed short of Christmas spirit as we went to the Winter Gardens for a read. Having sat there in the centre for a few minutes amongst poor paintings propped up around the furnishings, warehouse style, some staff started to move chairs into a lined configuration for an Art Auction. We stayed-put amongst this and continued our drinks and snack. As the auction began it became obvious that the smooth "evangelistic" American sales pitch seemed to be out of order here. High prices being quoted for questionable items. It is so amazing that so many passengers seemed totally engrossed and would probable be taken in. The use of this attractive public area for sales purposes is disgusting. We left. About 5.0pm the sun came out and the sea calmed down. Dined on Turkey, bits and bobs, pulled crackers and to our surprise Mary and Roy handed round mementos of Scotland Christmas gifts. I got into conversation with a Belgian lady in the theatre, who told me that she and her husband had joined the ship in Lisbon because the Channel Tunnel had been closed before they could go to Southampton and they had a complicated communication and flight arrangement to undertake. The Ship's dancers and singers put on a Christmas spectacular, Comedian John Martin and Cruise Director contributed well to give us Christmas Day entertainment. Throughout the evening the ship rocked and rolled again, making walking around entertaining, particularly as there is a preponderance of the passengers were far from young, rather delicate or supported by metal contraptions or in wheelchairs. This rough sea continued through the night. Prior to arrival in Arrecife the sea and wind calmed and we pulled into the Muelle de Los Mármoles near Castillo San JosE about a mile to the North of the town. Shuttle buses took us to the attractive small harbour called Charco de san GinEs and we walked through to town centre and the main street called León y Castillo. We strolled along the promenade towards Playa del Reducto as the weather improved to show us that there really is blue sky and sunshine, and we called in a cafe and using a wi-fi connection (as the one on ship is slow and horrendously expensive) to email our family. We sailed away to a very colourful sunset and a calm sea. Dinner was good as usual. The show, Celtic Heartbeat, was high quality and everything was well produced. It struck us that the shows on this ship have not changed for over two years and are American in concept. This shows that the Cunard entertainment management have very little imagination, particularly as passengers return regularly to these ships. A ship of this quality, purporting to be 5star, and having an essence of Britishness should change the shows far more often and introduce a more British content. Puerto de la Luz in Las Palmas, Cran Canaria was awash with large ships and many commercial ships standing off. Our choice of a Hop-on hop-off bus to get our barings for the day was good. After one circuit we went to the central shopping area on Calvo Sotelo to get some essential things from Corte Inglais and M&S and continued to explore the Pueblo Canario district and for a mandatory coffee at Hotel Catalina before returning to the ship for 3.00pm. The weather was superb, with a maximum temperature of 26º During the departure the band played in the Swimming Pool area as we glided out of the harbour during a lovely balmy evening sunset. The Dinner was a disappointment as I ordered hot Filet Minón for my main course through Atilla Verdo, as the menu was unattractive. I received Sirloin steak overcooked and hardly warm. I gave up. The Show this evening was a singer from Blackpool who performed old numbers in other artiste's styles. He was mediocre so we left after 5 songs. The ship stayed very steady during the night, as it took a circuitous route to Tenerife to pass the time at sea. Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands Spain. When we woke the ship was docked in Muelle Principal in front of Plaza España At 10.0am we caught a modern tram to the bus station and bought return tickets to Puerto de la Cruz to the North. The entire return fare cost £6 each. The journey took an hour. Tenerife had great public transport systems. The sun came out and the temperature reach 27º at mid-day. After about 3 hours of very pleasant casual strolling around this beautiful sub-tropical town, we returned on a direct bus, which only took half an hour. Back on board we went for an elegant afternoon tea, in the Queen's Room. The Commodore Club was our choice for pre dinner drinks. This is a very comfortable, elegant place. Dinner was the best yet. Mary, Lemon Sole and I had real Filet Minon, cooked to perfection. Frank Marc, the chef did a great job here. The whole meal for all six of us was excellent. The show in the theatre was another poor affair. Adrian Walsh, a weak comedian 'died' and he knew it. Cunard really ought to get their hands in their wallets for better class acts. As the ship hung about, wasting time at sea during the night we started to be buffeted around again. Santa Cruz de La Palma Canary Isles The weather cleared and the day became very warm. We walked into town, found a cafe and I went on the Internet to receive lovely messages from the family. The stroll back was slow due to Mary having a very painful foot. Back at the Victoria we read on deck for a couple of hours, soaking up the good weather and had a snack in the Lido Restaurant. Then Siesta. The weather forecast seemed bad for the next few days with a huge 'low' in the region of Madeira. I asked the receptionist if we would be able to land there but he said that the venue was still on the cards. I doubt the captain's wisdom here. When we were due to set sail, at 6.0pm the Captain announced that the sea around Madeira was going to be too rough and he had decided to stay here until first light tomorrow, when there would be a better chance that the 'low' will have moved East. This would possibly mean that we would miss a day in Funchal. The Commodore Club for excellent pre dinner sips. After dinner we saw another old worn out routine beautifully executed by the ships show dancers. At Sea Unscheduled, we were force to spend a day at sea, as my doubts of yesterday were confirmed at lunchtime. The Captain announced that the sea was too rough around Madeira for the ship to dock. However he thought that we would be able to go in on New Years Eve. We read our good books and met a very interesting lady in Cafe Corinthia before going to lunch at the Golden Lion pub. The sea began to get rougher again and we were not keen attending the Opera Singer's performance in the theatre so we went to bed. We actually made it to Funchal on the island of Madeira. This is a very pretty town and we took the free shuttle bus into the city centre. During our mandatory coffee stop at a pavement cafe near the main square, I connected to the free wi-fi hotspot provided by Madeira.com and sent email updates. As the morning progressed the town began to buzz with locals strolling around amongst the excellent street decorations, wishing their friends a Happy New Year. This is a beautiful, friendly, happy place. Unfortunately we had to leave the festivities before noon as they were just getting enjoyable, as the Cunard had messed up the docking arrangements and had to move out of port to make space for the P&O Oriana, which had made better plans, to hang around for a tantalising twelve hours off shore for the firework display There was very limited and difficult tendering provided, so we decided to stay put. Tonight was another formal dress one for dinner and Roy turned up in full Scottish regalia. Everyone looked very smart and entered into the spirit be putting on daft hats and blowing their horns. Balloons all over the place in the restaurant gave us a marvellous atmosphere. The scene through the window of the whole of the bay of Funchal, with the festive lighting and occasional fireworks was idyllic. The Commodore Club for drinks afterwards until midnight then, up on deck to see the New Year in. Spot on 12 o'clock we got an amazingly spectacular firework display all over town and in the huge bay. The perfectly co-ordinated colours and bangs shook the ship and all the colourful fireworks brought the New Year in with amazing gusto while the waiters handed out glasses of bubbly. £50,000,000 spent by Madeira on these pyrotechnics in 12 minutes! The ship then sailed away from Madeira en-route home. The sea stayed calm all night. I felt that the weather had been blamed for Cunard's lack of planning skills and that our day at sea was the result. What a disappointment it was to have missed a full day and a half here. Now we were to begin another three full days across the angry Atlantic. Fortunately the Queen Victoria is a very elegant cruise ship with the equivalent of 5 star hotel standards so we were able to enjoy the facilities to the full. The meals were OK and the company fine and we red a lot. As we began to reach the level of the top of Spain the captain said that we had a passenger who needed hospital treatment and we were to divert to Vigo to get him off. Several hours later he had recovered (probably as he didn't like the thought of being dumped in Spain, with all the costs that would generate helped a lot) and the ship was not now going to Vigo. Arriving at Southampton. We disembarked at about 10.30am defrosted the car at the Holiday Inn and drove the 240 miles home through picturesque England with blue skies and white frosted trees. We arrived home to find snow about 75mm deep. During the night the snow thickened to about 300mm. We had been extremely lucky to have a clear drive. Comment We found the Cabin to be very well endowed with storage space, even to drawers below the bedside tables and storage beneath the beds. There is a good-sized dressing Table with laptop space and a variety of electrical sockets. Although the bathroom is small it has plenty of shelf space and is very practical and adequate. The balcony is large: about eleven feet (3.3metres) by seven feet by (2.1 metres) with two comfortable chairs and a small table. Generally we had good food (for mass catering) in the main Britannia Restaurant and the Lido food choice was good. The ship's public areas are beautifully designed to luxury hotel standards with plenty of space and an air of calmness. All the staff members are friendly and exceptionally well trained in the main. Everything possible is done for the guests with quiet efficiency. This is a demonstration of fine management. All in all, the ambience is of an exceptionally high standard. Eric and Nell, our friendly Filipino waiters were perfect, with non-intrusive efficiency but had too many tables to serve. Stalin, our Asian Sommelier seemed curt and inattentive but maybe this was because he was shy and overstretched. Attila Verdo our Hungarian waiter supervisor was very helpful and attentive but exceedingly obsequious. The Maitre'd was very good. The entire bar staff and waiters throughout this ship are friendly and well trained. Minor Criticisms Most individual Acts in the Royal Court Theatre were mediocre. Although the showgirls and boys were good but the shows had worn-out concepts. The Cunard entertainment management is unacceptably poor as there had been no significant change in the shows since we cruised two years ago. Some creative flair is needed here. Mostly the food in the Lido restaurant was tepid and the crockery was 'works canteen' type certainly not 5 star. Bogs usually indicate the standards. The hand drying paper in the Gents toilets give an air of 'cheapness', I would expect hand towels for this class of establishment. I believe the Ladies toilet does have these. Only half ship tenders were used in Funchal due to a 2metre swell making the remaining 50% unable to be launched in a choppy sea. These are ship's lifeboats! The Funchal docking arrangements should have been the same as when we booked. We only had about three hours ashore instead of two days. We also entirely missed two port visits and went to one we didn't want to see. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Tales of Table 18 or Well-Nigh a Paradise EMBARKATION: DW ("Dear Wife") and I embarked, on the frigid afternoon of January 12, on the New York to San Francisco segment of the Queen Victoria's 2010 World Cruise. As we ... Read More
Tales of Table 18 or Well-Nigh a Paradise EMBARKATION: DW ("Dear Wife") and I embarked, on the frigid afternoon of January 12, on the New York to San Francisco segment of the Queen Victoria's 2010 World Cruise. As we live but a few blocks from her Manhattan berth, our transit consisted merely of a five minute taxi ride, a momentary wait in the "V.I.P" lounge and then straight aboard in time for settling in and a first lunch in the Queens Grill. Luggage was delivered promptly, as usual. THE GRILLS: We took our first meal alone at our table of eight as our tablemates were not yet in evidence. It was exciting to gain a new view of Manhattan (and our apartment building) from the comfort of that wonderful dining room. Already, from those same floor-to-ceiling windows, the view tasteful softened in a frame of elegant shades and drapes, we have seen so much: under them, Venice has been laid out and the Bosphorus strait has glistened with the lights of Istanbul. This time, we anticipated the jungle of Panama and the passage under the Golden Gate. The Grills areas and particularly the lounge and Queens Grill restaurant remain smashing successes. These rooms lend themselves, by virtue of their size, shape, dEcor, illumination, location, orientation, and service, to a conviviality, a demure, yet joyful, social grace, which is simply magic - and unmatched anywhere else at sea. The Grills areas on QM2 are no match at all. Our suite, a Q6, was luxurious and well-situated midships on Deck 7. Closet and drawer space was certainly sufficient for two weeks but for the world cruise might have been a tad tight as many of the tables and bureaus had dead space (even a peculiar box under the bed interfered with luggage storage). Instead of these, more drawers and shelves would have been useful. All told, however, the suite, with its large and well-furnished balcony, is quite the way to travel and spoils one for anything less. I remain convinced that the Grills represent a very good value for money. SAILAWAY: We cast off our moorings a few hours later than scheduled to let the North River (or "Hudson") ice clear a bit. The promenade down the Hudson, past the glittering towers of Manhattan and out to sea was, as always, a spectacular experience. It makes one all-too-aware of what is missed now in the QM2's calls instead on Red Hook, Brooklyn. NOROVIRUS: The much remarked-upon plague of the "norovirus" (gastroenteritis) was upon the ship. Throughout the voyage the crew distinguished themselves with literally unending cleaning and disinfecting chores. These efforts were to good effect as the virus was eradicated by our call in San Francisco. We waited with some apprehension for the Chief Medical Officer's noon daily reports on the "situation" which he always assured us was "under control." Fortunately, we were not affected. The doctor, as if to emphasize the non-life-threatening and prosaic nature of the virus, would close with "Toodle-oo" or "Toodle-pip." Toward the end of the voyage, though noting that the scourge had ended, he opined that the few passengers remaining with "upset tummies" could attribute their conditions to "dietary indiscretions" pronounced "DIE-a-tree Indis-CRE-tions." Right he was, as the food was extremely good indeed and one must be careful not to overindulge. His crisp Briton accent was a pleasure to hear. Captain Wright is also, by all accounts and indications a friendly, efficient, and decorous fellow. TABLE 18 One morning, C.D. Alistair Greener identified us to the ship on his daily telly show: we, the happy, lucky, and obviously jovial passengers at Queens Grill Table 18. We had much to be grateful for and expressed our good cheer vehemently, to the pleasure, we trust, of those we also befriended who were seated nearby at smaller tables. We enjoyed all our meals immensely save for those on the first day. The galleys do seem to be off on the day of a visit to the ports of New York as we have had the same disappointing experience on QM2 this past September on the first evening. Quite odd. It also remains a shame that Cunard continues to present "Pol Acker" sparkling wine as a gift to passengers. One of our tablemates, unfamiliar with the proper use of the stuff as drain cleaner, remarked, with his lilting Australian accent, upon first tasting it: "Holy Dooley, that's ROUGH!" Rather Cunard should drop the traditional "gift" or present something potable. Our tablemates were an accomplished, charming, vivacious, and cheerful group, one couple from Scotland, another from Australia, and, a special treat, Roger McGuinn (folk singer and founder of the rock group, the Byrds) and his wife, Camilla. Rarely are great accomplishment and deepest modesty twinned as they are in Roger's character. He treated the ship to two lecture/concerts in the Royal Court theatre which were by far the finest entertainments we have ever enjoyed aboard a Cunard ship. The McGuinn's, as well, held a party for us, the fortunate diners of Table 18, where Roger performed al fresco - another unforgettable pleasure. Were he ever to perform again on board we recommend seeking out that voyage. Under the superlative care of senior maitre d' Andrew Nelder (ex-QE2 and a life-long devoted exemplar of the very best of Cunard White Star service), we enjoyed weeks spent in great measure at table coddled in comfort. Oh, how we indulged, imbibed, laughed and feted in no small measure thanks to the effortless and attentive service from David and Daniel in table service and from Sommelier, Kevin. No special order was any trouble. English silver service was flawless and table-side flambEs, carvings, etc. were performed with finesse, exactitude, lovely aromas and a lovely and appropriate theatricality. As always, we so much appreciated the seeming ease which can only result from immensely hard work behind the scenes. The food was of excellent though not always superlative quality in that, for example, the beef was good but not dry-aged prime. The caviar was very good and plentiful but not the Sevruga of days of yore. Every dish, save a few the first night, was properly cooked and seasoned, well-conceived, well-plated, etc. There was much more fine dark chocolate on offer than previously. Good show, Cunard. Also, the after-dinner three-tiered trays of Petit Fours, tartlets, bon-bons, and truffles were delightful. I learned much about wine under Kevin's tutelage. If you are reading this, Kevin: thanks again for your strength with that recalcitrant cork on the Jeraboam of Veuve Clicquot! SEA DAYS: Days passed as they tend to do aboard: nothing to do and not enough time in which to do it. We missed likely 85% of the entertainments offered us. Between meals, we enjoyed the gym where well-taught and well-attended exercise classes were on offer daily: spinning for me and "Zumba" for DW. Evenings brought elegant attire (jackets ALWAYS required for men, thank goodness), ballroom dancing, and even the disco (Hemispheres) which was, unfortunately, nearly deserted many nights. Though buglers no longer sound the evening call to remind passengers that the time has come to dress for dinner, Cunard has happened upon the nice substitute of one's butler delivering canapes (caviar toasts, lobster salad in brioche, etc.) to the one's stateroom at about 5:30 each evening. Nice touch, that. Our Butler also replenished our fruit bowl, delivered various newspapers, and served any meals, by the course, we wished to take en-suite. With the inimitable languor, the ennui (in the best sense of the word), which overtakes passengers at sea, we took, upon retiring each evening, to leaving closed the heavy drapery between our bedroom and living room so that, the next morning, by the delicate sounds of her unseen hands laying out the china, we would awake gently to hear her presenting our breakfast after which she announced, softly: "enjoy your breakfast, Mr. and Mrs. . . .." Nearly a paradise indeed though DW notes that, in inferior contrast to the breakfast service at the Four Seasons, Prague, she did not actually bring a toaster to our room to make the toast! I noted the care with which the garde manger station had scored, with the tines of a fork perhaps, the edges of our slices of melon (in order to increase their visual appeal). Whenever, elsewhere, I am presented with naked melon slices again I shall surely sigh. Evenings were always crowned with some ballroom dancing in the Queens Room. The orchestra and singer were quite accomplished and nice to listen to. Dancing was somewhat difficult, even for the gentlemen hosts, at times, because tunes which the singer called-out as "rumba"s were played, consistently, at Bolero tempo. "Swing" was often called-out - to be followed by a quickstep instead! This left many on the floor quite flummoxed. M.C., Jennifer, was kind and helpful in mentioning this to the band but received the reply that "[we] must play the marked tempo" which is utter nonsense. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: Seas were calm on the slow run down to Ft. Lauderdale where, on our own ashore, we enjoyed tandem bicycling and Segway personal transporters in Hugh Taylor Birch State park. That evening, the send-off we received from the residents of the towers along the channel was, as always, tremendous fun, what with all the shouting, tooting, honking, flashing lights, and cries from ashore that we should "enjoy the WORLD!" Grand Cayman: Grand Cayman brought a worthwhile Cunard shore excursion to a beach where we rested under the shade of a tree on the provided loungers and enjoyed a swim in the Caribbean before returning to the ship - of course in time for lunch! Cartagena, Columbia: We took one of the Cunard "highlights of. . ." tours which revealed a city which was, to us, of only glancing interest, unfortunately. Panama Canal: The full-day transit of the Panama canal was a highlight, naturally: in the dawn light, the mist rising from the waters approaching the Gatun locks brought "Apocalypse Now" to mind. The jungle, so densely- foliate that it remained dark under the canopy long after the sun rose, seemed impregnable and quite forbidding. Shortly thereafter, upon entering the first lock, we viewed, directly ahead, the miracle of the 85 foot rise over which the ship was to pass. Ahead (and above) us in the next lock was another Panamax cruise ship which added dramatic effect, looming so high as it did. Also astonishing was the lack of any clearance between the hull and the sides of the locks as I verified from the windows of the Queens Room when they were considerably below ground level. Only when we were elevated to lake level did the enormity and majesty of the man-made, lock-enabling, Gatun lake became apparent. It took the better part of the day to transit from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean side. The jungle's density and the intensity of the sun and humidity made the fact of the canal's construction a century ago all the more awe-inspiring. We saw teams of workers cutting back the growth from the shorelines as the jungle appears quickly able to reclaim what we have taken from it. The Pacific: The full-bore run up to Acapulco and thence to San Francisco did not show the poor Holland America Vista-class hull to its best effect. Merely low swells caused by winds from the West/Northwest as we made our course Northwest caused a repeated and noisy battering of the bow which, at 22 knots, will certainly result in a shortened service life for the ship. By an acoustic quirk in the superstructure of the ship, we, in Queens Grill, were treated, often, to a regular and thunderous booming as Poseidon seemed to wield his trident against the bow. Each impact was followed with a shudder (the "QV shimmy") and noticeable pitching in addition to the light roll to which we were accustomed. What a contrast to the mighty QM2 which pierces such swells entirely without effort and at much greater speed. But of course QM2 is a liner and QV and QE are cruise ships pushed to extremes when, as during this portion of the voyage, they play the part of vessels which they should not aspire to be. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was much-delayed but not as a result of any failing on Cunard's part. We passed the time quite pleasantly in the Grills lounge after a final breakfast (shirred eggs and caviar for me). Luggage was ready at the pier (which will receive a much-needed renovation over the next few years). San Francisco: A short taxi ride found us at the Mandarin Oriental overlooking the ship from our aerie on the 43rd floor. The Mandarin is one of the rare hotels which under-promises and over-performs. A stay there in one of the Mandarin signature rooms is a worthwhile treat. We enjoyed tea of our choice and cookies in the room as a welcome and noted that the views were even better than promised, especially in the enormous bathroom. While it is true that there is no Grand Hotel sense of event at this property because the lobby is small, the adjacent bar and lounge dark and awkwardly configured, there is no pool (though the Equinox club is just around the corner with guest privileges), etc., the service and the views more than make up for these lacks. The on-site restaurant, Silks, had an excellent tasting menu in the New American style. The concierge was extremely helpful making reservations, room service was prompt, exacting, polite, and accurate, maid service was excellent, and we appreciated the little touches, like the first initial of our family name tastefully-embroidered on one of the snow-white, silky cotton bed pillows, the offer, each early evening, of a special treat such as a Bento box of nuts or dried fruits presented with orchid blooms, a small bottle of Port, etc. We will certainly return to this property. That first evening, with her lights aglitter, we watched, from our windows on high, as the Queen Victoria sailed away. The sight was majestic but our feeling also somewhat sad - akin to a lover's "a bientot" rather than an "adieu." Otherwise, we wholeheartedly recommend Sutro's at the Cliff House restaurant (a haunt exclusively of tourists, apparently) enjoys magnificent views of the crashing waves and serves very good fish - much better than it need be given its location. The Academy of Science is well worth a visit as it has the best living rainforest and aquarium displays we have ever enjoyed - and also the excellent Moss Room fine dining venue where we enjoyed lunch. Dinner at Bix brought good brasserie fare and dancing at the Top of the Mark was an excellent close to the trip. Return Flight: Delta's transcontinental "Business Elite" service was actually quite nice - no beds but certainly decent seats and plenty of leg room. We were greeted by name and I happily accepted the flight attendant's offer to hang up my jacket - decorum is not gone entirely from flying these days! Alas, the food was inedible - all good things must come to an end. . .until we sail again we return, reluctantly, to what a memorable Celebrity Cruises advert. calls our "temporary exile" on land. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Much to our overall disappointment - my wife and I boarded the Queen Victoria for our British Isles Cruise.... having sailed on both the QE2 and the QM2 - we were amazed with the lack of Majesty of the Victoria compared to the other ... Read More
Much to our overall disappointment - my wife and I boarded the Queen Victoria for our British Isles Cruise.... having sailed on both the QE2 and the QM2 - we were amazed with the lack of Majesty of the Victoria compared to the other Curnard Queens. There is a lack of luxury one would expect for the price of the cruise, and when entering our "cabin" - we were very disappointed, as we have experienced more space, and storage area and usual complimentary items in bath area,on a smaller Carnival ship recently. The rules are the same as QE2 & QM2 regarding dress code, etc... but why ?? the food choices in the Britannia Dining Room were less that desired... and on three occasions after reading the posted menu we decided "it" was not worth all the bother of having to Dress for Dinner...SO- Lido - here we come ... and did many , many, many more as it was packed each meal - daily. Wondering why no shrimp cocktails were offered on the menu in the dining room - we did notice "others" with shrimp cocktails, etc., and other items not on the menu. When we asked about this, we were told that those special items had to be requested. (unknown to most) The staff in general were mostly rude and not very friendly at all, and when asked questions most acted as if we "bothered" that we asked anything of them. The ports of call were good as we expected, however the Cunard sponsored "tours" - were a rip off as most were just bus rides through the county side. The one exception was The American Landing sites in Cherbourg / Normandy and the Museum there. The Royal Court Theatre was very nice ( stadium seating ) and some of the shows were good. Over all, --- Not what what I expected for the price I paid ..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This cruise had it all - a visit from the ship's 'Godmother' HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Halle Orchestra performing live in board, a Beatles tribute band and dancing under the stars until a fabulous firework display lit ... Read More
This cruise had it all - a visit from the ship's 'Godmother' HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Halle Orchestra performing live in board, a Beatles tribute band and dancing under the stars until a fabulous firework display lit up the skies in Liverpool to send us on our way! Stops in Cherbourg (not my cup of tea so took it as a sea day!), Cobh (beautiful little town and touching ceremony at the Lusitania Memorial performed by the local dignatories and Captain Wright), Dublin, Liverpool (royal visit, etc), Belfast (fabulous city, edgy and architecturally very grand), Greenock (a rousing bagpipe welcome and sailing out in sunlight and showers along the Scottish shoreline was magical) and South Queensferry for Edinburgh (took it as another sea day!) Port intensive but well worthwhile, as we had sailed on QV in May and done the ship thoroughly back then. This time we didn't feel conflicted with getting off and missing out on the cruise experience itself. Britannia Restaurant was superb as always. Service impeccable, food of the best (as usual - don't believe those reviews that rubbish it as they can't get prawn cocktail - who wants prawn cocktail on a luxury cruise anyway!!) Lido service and food very good as was Cafe Carinthia (favourite for cakes and sandwiches during the day) and afternoon tea a joy as always. Wines and cocktails were excellent - strong and good pours. Service in the Commodore Club (Marjam in particular) was attentive, speedy and genuinely friendly. Downsides? Well, the usual whingers! Yanks at our table first night - so rude I nearly fell of my chair. Table for six, other couple USA based too were equally appalled. We spoke to the Maitre D' and within seconds he had allocated us another table for the rest of the cruise, for the four of us, and spoken to the 'complainers' about their attitude. Dress code needs to be Enforced as well as being set - shorts in Britannia is NOT on, neither is a polo shirt at cocktail party on formal evg. But that aside, a wonderful cruise with some extra special mementos like souvenir menus, brochures and a banging headache from partying too much on the last day! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The cruise was called "British Isles Roundtrip" and we would be visiting Cherbourg, Cobh, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Greenock for Glasgow and South Queensferry for Edinburgh. A short drive from home of 40 minutes, brought us ... Read More
The cruise was called "British Isles Roundtrip" and we would be visiting Cherbourg, Cobh, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast, Greenock for Glasgow and South Queensferry for Edinburgh. A short drive from home of 40 minutes, brought us into Ocean Terminal in Southampton on Thursday 22 July 2010. On arrival our luggage was whisked away, the car keys handed over and we walked into the terminal building within minutes, carrying just our hand luggage. Up the escalator in the departure lounge, we filled in a medical form and were soon booked in with all paperwork completed. Then we walked through port authority scanning and straight onto the Queen Victoria. We had had a glimpse of her as we arrived and wondered at her magnificent size and splendour. We found our cabin 1050 very quickly from the directions given and were impressed by how well appointed it was and even more delighted with the half bottle of champagne on ice that awaited us. We met Norven our cabin steward who seemed very kind and pleasant. Then we went up to the Lido restaurant for a delicious lunch. The whole procedure from leaving home to sitting down for lunch had taken less than an hour and a half. Our holiday had begun! After lunch we spent some time exploring the ship and were very impressed by the fabulous decor and the plentiful amenities. We were looking forward to trying our luck in the casino, with the roulette and blackjack tables and of course the gaming machines. Our luggage had been delivered within minutes of arriving in our stateroom, so we unpacked and found plenty of storage space. At 4.30 there was a muster drill in the nearby Queen's room and we were soon sailing on our way down Southampton water and out into the English Channel. We had been designated second sitting for dinner in the lower area of the Brittania restaurant. The food was presented beautifully in a nouvelle cuisine style and to be honest, this wasn't really to our liking so we dined often in the Lido restaurant instead. The Lido always had plenty of choices for a rich and hearty main course, with an abundance of appetisers, accompanying vegetables and puddings. We found the food in the Lido for breakfast, lunch and dinner exemplary in quality. The staff were super from the chefs to the waiters and waitresses. Nothing was ever too much trouble and was always accompanied by laughter and smiles. Cobh for Cork. On Saturday morning we awoke to find the ship docked in Cobh. This is a delightful little port town in Southern Ireland with much history to it. There were even musicians playing on the quay and a lovely museum right on the dock. We noticed that the train station was nearby, from where one could catch a train into Cork city. We chose to walk round the friendly town of Cobh, looking in the shops and walking up the steep hill to visit a beautiful church. We had lunch back on the Queen Victoria in the irresistable Lido restaurant and after a short rest, returned ashore to look round the museum that was beautifully constructed in the old railway station building. That evening we dined in the Lido where there was a superb carvery in addition to freshly cooked fish and other dishes. We spent some time in the casino, although sadly 'Lady Luck' was not on our side that night. Afterwards we found ourselves drawn back to the Commodore bar, where we had a few drinks as a nightcap. Cherbourg. The next morning when we woke up, the ship had docked in Cherbourg. After a hearty breakfast in the Lido restaurant, we caught the free shuttle bus into the town centre. We spent a very pleasant morning walking round the town, visiting places of interest and doing some shopping, mostly of the window variety. As we waited to catch the return shuttle bus, we found two friends waiting as well whom we had met on a previous cruise a year ago. Both they and we were amazed to find we had come on the same cruise a year later and it was great to renew friendship. The shuttle bus arrived and we returned to the ship for lunch and again ate a delicious buffet meal in the Lido. After watching the television, reading a book and enjoying a short nap(the sea air seemed to induce this), we got ready for dinner. That was a formal night, so we dressed up and went to the cocktail party before the evening meal in the Brittania restaurant, meeting the captain and having our photos taken. After dinner we met up with friends and enjoyed a drink and a chat in the Commodore bar, which has a wonderful atmosphere and is very comfortable listening to the reminiscent music of Gershwin played on the piano. We slept very well that night again in the luxurious bed. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
After a good journey by coach from north wales,, we were quickly and efficiently checked in at the new Oceans Terminal at Southampton; coach to cabin in less than an hour. The 'stateroom' was beautifully appointed, and above all ... Read More
After a good journey by coach from north wales,, we were quickly and efficiently checked in at the new Oceans Terminal at Southampton; coach to cabin in less than an hour. The 'stateroom' was beautifully appointed, and above all practical in its design and layout. Our Stewardess Ludmilla from Ukraine (Ask her "are you from Russia?" at your peril) Was very helpful and pleasant, and couldn't do enough for us. Food in the main restaurant was excellent, well presented, particularly the salads which were imaginatively different Evey day. Although since our last Cunard Cruise some 10 years ago, the number of courses and the 'expensive' ingredients have reduced. The Lido buffet was simply the best we have encountered in nearly 20 cruises. No Queues, everything cooked or prepared to perfection. special mention for the best English breakfast afloat. The decor of the vessel is quite fantastic, reminiscent of a large and very grand hotel at the turn of the 19th century. The hotel illusion was heightened by the fact that the seas were flat calm throughout the voyage, absolutely no movement, or vibration. The shows and entertainment throughout the ship were much what we have learned to expect whilst cruising, they were just that little bit better', more professionally executed,on board singers and dancers just that little bit more talented and experienced. The outer deck were much as you would find on other ships. 2 good sized pools, plenty of sunbathing areas. although the one area we did find disappointing was the Winter Gardens with a retractable roof limited decor because of the roof made this area very plain; perhaps a fixed conservatory style glass roof wold have looked better. However we did not use the open decks much, as for most of the voyage the temperature was up in the low 90's, quite tropical. Not what one would normally expect at these northern latitudes! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our 20th cruise and 2nd time with Cunard, but first timers on the Queen Victoria. The reason for the title of my review was due to some of the appalling reviews given of the Queen Victoria in the six week period prior to my ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise and 2nd time with Cunard, but first timers on the Queen Victoria. The reason for the title of my review was due to some of the appalling reviews given of the Queen Victoria in the six week period prior to my departure.....to the point wherein my wife and i actually considered cancelling or just not turning up.(but of course all reviews are subjective) Embarkation at Southampton Ocean Terminal was a breeze and i was on the ship within 25 minutes of dropping off my car and eating lunch in the lido buffet some 15 minutes after that. The selection and quality was superb and fresh and certainly the Lido did not have a "Cafeteria" feel to it as had been mentioned in a previous report. Our stateroom was exceptionally comfortable and we had no problem with the drawer and wardrobe space and also no problem with shelf space in the bathroom, something else that had been mentioned. I guess my only criticism might be a little refurb on some of the wood / veneer panelling might be useful. Dinner and the Waiters service in The Britannia (upper tier - table for two)across the 12 day period was simply outstanding to a point where i complimented the maitre d` on the Lamb Shank i had that evening. The choice was excellent across all courses throughout (another previous criticism) to a point where some nights my wife and i had serious debate over whether we were in a fish or meat mood. Also we enjoyed the fact that although its "open seating" for lunch, they have a maitre d` at a station that aims to fulfill your request regarding table size. A table for two was never a problem! On the whole we thought the production shows were excellent and certainly not end of the pier shows and we felt that Cunard certainly had the very best dancers we have ever seen on the high seas. Sadly, we were a little disappointed with the headline artists. The crew from deck attendants to the bar staff around the decks and in the lounges were absolutely faultless, certainly following the "White Star Service" credo. Another review criticism was the cleanliness of the ship....it was spotless especially the toilets around the ship! Having not cruised in the Med. in the height of the summer for at least 10 years, this cruise and the Queen Victoria re-awakened our cruise bug and we have re-booked for next year - but slightly earlier. Was there a negative - Yes one....... ...I have never seen so many towels and books sunbathing in my life. By 11am on sea days, there wasn't a sunbed or chair in the sun to be had. But that's easily sorted - wait for 10 mins and if nobody comes back to their bed then get an attendant to take the towels off - Sorted!! Disembarkation at Southampton easy and relaxed and bang on time, with a wonderful full English breakfast inside us.....Perfection! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We have been on the Queen Victoria once before and love the ship although for many different reasons than the QM2 and the QE2 both of which we love too. The QV is small enough even when full to feel never crowded and very elegant. A cruise ... Read More
We have been on the Queen Victoria once before and love the ship although for many different reasons than the QM2 and the QE2 both of which we love too. The QV is small enough even when full to feel never crowded and very elegant. A cruise ship rather than a liner she may be but she has all the traditions of a Cunarder Set out from Southampton on a warm but overcast day ,Aug 1st.Embarcation smooth and quick, we were in our cabin in 15 mins.All our cruises have always had an overcast sailaway so all our pictures tend to be grey and dull. Still never mind we enjoyed our champagne in our cabin and as we had been lucky enough to get a call from our travel agent to say that we had a free upgrade to a Q3 we were more than happy with the cabin and our butler Lourdes who used to be on the QE2. 1st day at sea was sunny and the temperature was warming up. Calm blue sea stretching for miles with the occasional container ship and a few oil and gas rigs. The Arcadia following us from Southampton and we sailed side by side for a while until she overtook us and went on a different course to Copenhagen where she arrived first. Explored the ship and spent time in our favourite Commodore Club. Had lunch in the Grills - tasty as always!!. Arrived in our first port of call Copenhagen around 8. A 2 day stop which was great and made you feel you know the city. Docked at Langeline pier near to Little Mermaid except she was in China for their Expo and instead standing in the sea is a video screen showing the mermaid in China !!, a bit disappointing and I don't think we would let one of our main tourist attractions ,say Nelsons column leave the country even for a limited time. However the pier leads to the main city as we discovered on the second day and is very pretty with a little marina and shops and cafes. In with us was Acadia for one day only then Sevens Seas Voyager, Island sky and further up near the Opera house was the Silver Whisper. As Copenhagen is quite spread out with wide boulevards and parks it could easily absorb these cruise ships who do not have too many passengers onboard. We went on a coach trip round the city stopping near the market square for a short walk around and into a church- very pretty. We also spent time at the Royal palace and the pretty fountain (the Grefron) by an English Church. It was getting quite hot by then particularly in the sun. Second day we explored the waterfront ourselves and realised how close we were to the city. Walked alone looking at the boats and marina and the fortress behind it. Weather hotter still around 23/24 degrees and with a the cool breeze from the sea. Had a lovely sailaway going second after the Seven Seas. Another sea day and it was warm enough to sunbathe. Again calm blue calm sea as we slowly made our way to Stockholm. Who would have though the Baltic would be so hot!, although we were told than last week in Copenhagen it had been in the high 30's. We had been told by friends that the sail in to Stockholm is wonderful with the thousands of little islands .The ship started the sail in at 3 in the morning and although we did wake up we were surprised to see thick fog and the repeated sounding of the ships fog horn .Around 7 we were up and watching from the balcony as the sun came out and we arrived in Stockholm harbour which was lovely as Stockholm is built out of many islands and has lovely bridges joining them. It is also very green with lovely architecture. Lovely weather again and warmer still around 25/26 degrees. Went on another coach trip around the city which is so beautiful and clean stopping to take loads of photos of the scenery. We then went to the Vasa museum which I can recommend as it contains a wooden sailing ship The Vasa which sunk in 1628 and was salvaged almost whole as it was preserved in the type of water they have in the Baltic. It is a well laid out museum and the ship is amazing. Sailaway was again in brilliant weather and as it took 5 hrs to sail out of the archipelago we saw the most sunning scenery as the sun slowly set. Great evening watching the band Unison who are very good but we paid the price the next day as we lost another hour with having to put the clocks forward again Awoke to find we had docked it Tallinn . While the old town looks like a fairy tale town set up above the city ,it is surrounded by high-rise buildings and industrial areas that could be any modern city. As I have mobility problems we did not attempt many of the cobbled streets and steep inclines but it looked wonderful with narrow alleys and beautiful churches. Weather very hot and humid in Tallinn around 28/29 degrees. W ate lunch outside in the courtyard which was lovely. Independence of the Seas was alongside our ship so close you could see in the cabins and vice versa. They went off first to a noisy send off and the usual battle of the horns!!! (we won of course). Docked in St Petersburg and awoke to a very dark sky and thunder and lightning. Even at 6.am it was very hot and oppressive. The little rain we had did not cool it. QV struggled to dock in the wind and Captain Wright said we nearly did not dock at all. We had a private tour booked with Alla tours who were excellent and I would recommend . We had Natasha and driver Valsili (spelt wrong probably), both patient with amazing knowledge of the city. We went round the city sights,had lunch in a local restaurant and in the afternoon the Hermitage which was wonderful. The heat however was oppressive by now 35 degrees plus with what looked like heavy smog over the city and port and it was so bad in the evening you could not even see the ships moored with us (Seven sea voyager and Arcadia). There was a horrible smell in the air and we later heard it was the smoke from the fires around Moscow due to the extreme heat there. It did not really spoil the day but made us very tired and we were in bed for 9.00!! Next day thank goodness it was bright and sunny with no smog. Hot still but only around 30-32 degrees. We went to Peterhof with Natasha our guide and it is so beautiful there although we must have walked miles. Enjoyed drinks with sailaway as we left St Petersburg vowing to come back. Next day was Helsinki and it was much cooler than we had in Russia and a welcome change, about 20 degrees but not cold although windy and with a few showers. We went for a tour of the city and some Finnish food which was delicious especially the reindeer meat ( poor Ruldoph !!) Left around six and it became sunny with blue seas as we sailed away overtaking Silver Whisper and Sevens Seas Voyager. Went to the Royal theatre to se the comic John Evans who we saw on QE2 and was very funny. Went to the Commodore club for a quiet drink and to watch the sea ahead of us. A sea day so we got up quite early ,weather sunny and calm sea but very windy. I had my nails done in the beauty saloon which was expensive but worth it. We then watched a cookery demonstration in the theatre by the Queens Grill and Todd English chefs Made us hungry so headed for lunch which we enjoyed as usual. Walked around the ship looking at the library and book shop then did the trivial quiz in the Golden Lion which we enjoyed but did not win. It is very well attended and people must do quizzes a lot as they seem very knowledgeable. Off to the Captain's Cocktail party tonight before dinner and as it is formal it calls for an evening dress to show off my new nails !!!! The last days were wonderful with Oslo hot and sunny and very interesting and even Kristiansand was lovely ( well by the harbour anyway) . The last sea day we sunbathed on deck ( 24 degrees in the sun ) and watched the oil rigs and container ships sail by. we did a couple of quizzes ( did not win - how many stars on the flag of china beat us ) and watched the dancing in the Queens room. This year we actually bought a small picture on board , not in the auction but in the gallery. It was of Italy and reminded us of our trip there a few years ago. The auctions were very low key on the ship thank goodness , I suppose as there were few sea days. I can recommend the Queen Victoria as it is lovely and compact with a friendly feeling and with wonderful food. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
A couple days after leaving the Star Princess in Civitavecchia, we returned to the port and boarded Cunard's Queen Victoria on September 25, 2010. As we approached the ship I was impressed with the beautiful exterior of navy, red and ... Read More
A couple days after leaving the Star Princess in Civitavecchia, we returned to the port and boarded Cunard's Queen Victoria on September 25, 2010. As we approached the ship I was impressed with the beautiful exterior of navy, red and white and remember thinking it was the most stunning ship I had ever seen. Embarkation was smooth, though I was not excited about having to leave my passport with the staff in exchange for a ship card that I was told would serve as my passport for the next 12 days. As we entered the ship and approached the main elevator a perfecty dressed young man stuck out his white gloved finger and pushed the UP button. That was the last time in the next 12 days that I was of the impression that we were on a luxury cruise ship. Somehow the term luxury was transformed simply and completely to uninviting. It began with the note on our bed as we checked into our room. Not really welcoming as much as warning us of the need to follow the dress code. The room steward was great. Similar to every other steward serving us on every other cruise. They have all been wonderful. There were four us of traveling together and we had a lot of fun comparing Princess to Cunard. "One up for Princess" became a common response as we made a game of comparing the ships and continued to be genuinely surprised that Cunard is considered luxury. Here are a few examples: The buffet was very small and had a limited selection. This is fine for the multitudes of elderly folks on board who don't eat much I guess. I'm guessing they save a lot of money on food compared to the ships that attract guests under 70 years old. We packed formal attire on our 35 day vacation specifically because of the "strict" dress code which said you are not welcome in any public area without a jacket after 6pm. I was quite surprised the first evening as I was the only one in the buffet with a jacket. We watched an elderly guy walk by with a speedo and a tee shirt. What is it that makes Europeans think speedos look good? When I asked this question to a very nice Englishman, he explained that it is not the Europeans, its the Germans. lol. We wanted to make use of the formals we had been hauling around for a month so we dressed up and went to the dining room on day 3. The service was as perfect as any other cruise and the food was fine. Unfortunately we only ate in the dining room twice because we couldn't find any food offerings on the menu that weren't overly gourmet. I determined that fancy names of the uppity food must be necessary to maintain the illusion of luxury. The ceilings generally felt way too low. We often felt enclosed and dark wood paneling throughout the ship didn't help. There is actually a "tunnel" leading to the lower level of the theater which I would not recommend to anyone suffering from claustrophobia. For some reason many of the ceilings were dripping water. Buckets remained sitting on the carpet catching drips for 5 days at a time before being moved to catch drips further down the hall. Very strange and I have to assume this was not the normal experience for Cunard. Our state room had less closet and storage space than Princess, but it was adequate. Barely. Finally, score one for Cunard. They had an ice cream machine and served juice in the buffet all day. Self served that is. They don't serve drinks like most cruise lines do. You go get them yourself. In the buffet area of the Princess ship there was an abundance of help just waiting to take your plate and to assist you in finding a table. When you arrive at the table it is set with the cloth napkin and dinnerware so you don't have to pick it up yourself. Then, they serve juice, water and coffee so you don't have to go get that while your food is getting cold. Now that's white star service, and we didn't find it on Cunard! And what is with the serving trays? Old beat up fiberglass trays that filled our hands with figerglass slivers if we weren't careful. Strange. The music on the QV was a mixed bag. On one hand their band, Changez, was fantastic. Great talent. On the other hand, I kind of felt sorry for them because they seemed bored playing for a crowd that didn't appreciate upbeat music. Generally the ship music was classical and appropriate to the age of the guests. Speaking of the age of guests, anyone booking a Cunard cruise needs to be aware of the fact that everything caters to an older clientelle. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does change the feel and experience on the ship. For instance, it's hard to miss nap time in the Winter Garden. It seemed that everyday when we returned from a tour and walked through the Winter Garden we felt the need to tiptoe lightly as 90% of the room was filled with sleeping cruisers. We did find some entertainment in people watching. I've never before seen women cruise passengers dressed in business-type suits wandering around the ship decks with purses slung over their elbows. These were aplenty. And then there was the sweet little elderly woman who was walking on the treadmill clutching her shoulder bag....and the portly gentleman wearing a belt to hold up his swim trunks....and let's not forget the swimmer we ran into in the lobby in her Cunard bathrobe and Esther Williams swim cap. And I think I already mentioned "Mr. Speedo" at the ice cream machine in the buffet area. I figured if he didn't get escorted out I was safe without the mandatory jacket after 6 pm. One of our shore excursions was a trip to the Asian continent from the port of Istanbul. Our tour guide didn't speak English well enough for us to understand much of what he said, so he said very little. Mostly he just said something was "very important" but didn't even try to tell us why. He also used the word "normally" liberally and completely out of context. We had no idea of the significance of either of the stops on that tour. We decided to see if perhaps Cunard's luxury was hidden in its customer service so we brought up the matter with the shore excursion staff. Eventually they gave us a token discount rather than a well deserved refund. At least they were friendly. Unlike the woman at the purser's desk. In Croatia we boarded a shuttle bus to the port gate where a Croatian policeman boarded the bus and asked for picture ID. If you didn't have it, he kicked you off the bus and you walked a quarter mile back to the ship. Such was our luck. By the time we got there we were a little upset that they didn't bother telling us to have ID ready before getting on the bus. Lots of people were walking back and none were smiling. We went to the pursers desk to ask for our passports and I suppose we weren't being too friendly ourselves as we described our walk. The woman got defensive and said to my wife, "Lady its not my fault" Yeah, that went over well and fixed everything. She definitely shouldn't be working at a desk that requires Customer Service! One final observation before wrapping this up and getting myself on the "banned" list for Cunard, not that I would ever cruise with them again... We noticed that with the exception of the room stewards and the dining room attendants, most of the staff did not seem very happy. Not unhappy, but certainly not happy, like you would see on other cruises. I've found that attitudes/cultures in any organization generally originate from the top. I don't know if it comes from the cruise director, a woman that reminded us of Margaret Thatcher, or if it comes from higher up and extends to other ships as well. They could definitely learn something from this other cruise lines! Bottom line? If you are young or "young at heart" Cunard may not be the cruise line for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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
This is my first cruise review ever, on this or any other forum. I am a writer by profession, so I will attempt to offer my opinions and insights clearly and concisely while trying to keep this thing under the size of a Tom Clancy novel. ... Read More
This is my first cruise review ever, on this or any other forum. I am a writer by profession, so I will attempt to offer my opinions and insights clearly and concisely while trying to keep this thing under the size of a Tom Clancy novel. I'll comment on a variety of topics relating to the cruise ship and Cunard specifically, and finish by offering my brief opinions on each port. Note that this was only our second cruise ever, the first being with Princess. That being the case it is only natural to compare the ship and cruise line with Princess (specifically the Crown Princess), because that is my only point of reference. I'll also include information for any excursions or transfers booked outside of the Cunard umbrella. For the sake of interest and perspective, we are Canadians in our early 50s. Please remember that I am offering the opinions of my wife and me, occasionally supplemented by comments said directly to us by others. I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I say but that's the nature of stating an opinion now, isn't it? Ship: Queen Victoria Voyage: Ancient Wonders, V018 Stateroom: 7128 (balcony - port side, stern) Embarkation: 25-September-2010, Civitavecchia Disembarkation: 07-Oct-2010, Venice Ports of Call: Napoli, Santorini, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Samos, Piraeus (Athens), Zakynthos, Dubrovnik, Venice. We arrived in Rome (FCO) the morning of Wednesday, 23-Sep and by the time we cleared customs, collected our luggage, found our transfer, and arrived at the hotel it was about 1100 local time. Our chosen hotel was one of Cunard's affiliates (the Ambasciatori), but we booked it on our own at a substantially lower rate than offered through Cunard. An advantage of this was the Cunard information desk in the lobby that was staffed throughout the day - I'm not sure if the other Cunard affiliates offered the same service, but I'm sure they did. After a couple of days in Rome we took a private transfer to the port at Civitavecchia where we boarded the ship. We disembarked in Venice on 07-Oct, and eschewed all Cunard transfers and post-cruise services to walk to the train station, where we jumped aboard the train to Rome. We overnighted in Rome, used a private transfer to the airport, and departed the morning of 08-Oct. EMBARKATION/STATEROOM The first thing that Cunard did that rubbed me the wrong way was to assign a specific boarding time to use. Even though the ship was scheduled to depart at 2100 hrs local we were told we had to board the ship between the hours of 1300 and 1545. Although I understand Cunard's philosophy behind this, it essentially cut short our final day in Rome in favor of lounging about the ship for six hours before departure. Princess did not assign a specific boarding time, and the boarding process was not much more difficult than Cunard's despite the extra security in the USA. Our luggage was immediately collected when our driver dropped us off, and we were through the entire check-in and security procedure in roughly ten minutes. Cunard was very good at this, but part of the reason that North Americans will notice the much faster check-in process is the security in the US (and to lesser extent Canada) is much more stringent than the European ports. Our first impression upon entering the ship through the Grand Lobby was favorable, but we were not "blown away" to the extent we were on the Crown Princess. There's a couple of reasons for this - first, we kind of knew what to expect and second, the Piazza of the Crown Princess is simply much more visually impressive than the grand lobby of the Queen Victoria. Not that Vickie wasn't very nice, but it wasn't as impressive as the Crown Princess. Our arrival in our stateroom was pleasantly enhanced by the presence of an iced bottle of champagne and a couple of nice arrival gifts, which turned out to be insulated travel mugs with the Cunard/QV logo. Our first impression of the stateroom was that it didn't seem as spacious as our stateroom on the Crown Princess, which was located in an almost identical area of the ship. The configuration of the stateroom on the Crown seemed to lend to more living and "moving around" space, and on the QV there seemed to be many times when my wife and I were in each other's way. There was an enormous amount of luggage storage under the beds, and although I hate to admit this I don't actually know if there was luggage storage under the beds on the Crown Princess - we stored everything in the closet. The balcony on the QV was slightly smaller than we remembered the balcony on the Crown Princess to be. We booked the late seating in the Britannia restaurant. This turned out to be fortunate, because our luggage was not delivered until it was too late to dress for the 6:00 seating; we would have been wearing shorts and t-shirts which would have turned out to be not that big of a deal, but more on that later. I heard anecdotally that Cunard delivers the luggage of those customers booked at the early seating first, but I'm not necessarily convinced of that. We were underway earlier than scheduled, and in fact we had already cleared the breakwater and were in open water by the time we placed our orders at the late seating in the Britannia. DIS-EMBARKATION Disembarkation was quite smooth - much more so than disembarking from the Crown Princess, which was more to do with the different security measures in place in the US as opposed to Italy. Though we were not using any Cunard shuttles we chose to have our luggage collected overnight rather than haul it around the ship - we had three suitcases (one just for formal wear), a large photo backpack, and my wife's supplementary suitcase...err...purse. Following our cruise on the Crown Princess we made a "note to self" that if we were ever to cruise again we would remember to bring along a small carry-on type bag to carry our sundry items the day of disembarkation, because, of course, our luggage would be gone. Well, we forgot. So any first-timers reading this make sure you take a bag big enough for your toiletries and nightgowns or pajamas. We disembarked according to number and color on our luggage tags....we were "Purple #2", and had instructions to gather in the Royal Court theatre before 0900. When "Purple #2" was called at around 0915 we simply made our way to the gangway, gave up our ship I.D. cards and toodled away to get our luggage. The terminal was not busy, so we were out of there in just a few moments. We needed to get to Rome, and were told the water taxis didn't run to the train station (Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia) from the port (which may or may not be B.S. - we still don't know for sure). This entailed a ½ km hike from the terminal to Piazzale Tronchetto where we had to catch the "peoplemover" to Piazzale Roma, just one stop away. Other than the walk, and my wife's repeated insistance that we were completely lost, it was a relatively painless process. Once we got to Piazzale Roma we had to get off the peoplemover and hike to the train station, where we stood in line to get a ticket on the train to Rome. Pre-departure advice led us to believe that it was entirely risk-free to simply show up and buy tickets, and although this turned out to be more-or-less true, purchasing the tickets a couple of days in advance would have assured us a seat in a First Class car on the 11:30 AM train rather than a seat in a Second Class car on the 1:30 PM train. For the record we were in Rome at 5:45 PM. COMMON AREAS We never went to the dance club on the QV, but neither did we go to Skywalkers on the Crown Princess. Similarly we did not go to the extra-cost restaurants on either ship. The Grand Lobby on the QV was really nothing more than that - a big, well-appointed lobby. We were disappointed at this, because the Piazza on the Crown Princess was a larger, better appointed common area featuring many more cafes and bars, including the International Cafe that offered free hors d'oeuvres along with much better specialty coffees than I got on the QV. I completely understand that a "feature" of all the Queens in the Cunard fleet is the Queen's Room, but my opinion is that other common areas on the ship have been sacrificed for that one space. If you're a ballroom dancer or an attendee of any one of the several balls on the ship then I guess you appreciate that. We were there to attend the Captain's Greeting, to catch our excursions, and that's it. I'm not going to say it was a waste of space because many people clearly enjoyed using it, but my bet is that the majority of people did not use it. The Lido buffet was exactly what we expected, and really, nothing much differentiated it from the buffet restaurant on the Crown Princess. A small item of note was that there were several water leaks in the ceiling of the Lido and in the ceiling around the aft elevators, and indeed one day part of the ceiling in the Lido needed to be shored up using timbers. The Library on the Queen Victoria was in every way superior to the Library on the Crown Princess. The reference section on the QV was spectacular, to say the least. The two-level Britannia restaurant felt more spacious and "airy" to me than either of the analogous restaurants on the CP. I'm sure this is due mostly to its two-level design and aft location, meaning 3/4 of the dining area is surrounded by windows. Pool areas on the QV were much more compact than on the CP but they never really were so crowded that we couldn't find spots to sit. That being said, I'd hate to have to try and fight for a spot if the weather had been really hot , The pools themselves were quite small. We commented on several occasions that we wished the QV had been equipped with a rear amidships pool and large decks (including the movie screen!) like the CP. The CP also had a promenade that went all the way to the bow of the ship, which the QV does not have. The Golden Lion is an English Pub, and had quite a nice comfortable feel to it. I liked it better than the Wheelhouse Bar on the Crown Princess. Any of the other "open air" bars are a wash, but there were more of them on the CP. My absolute favorite space on the QV is the Commodore Club. Very warmly decorated and it offered a spectacular forward view. I also quite enjoyed sipping a coffee and reading while in the Winter Garden, an atrium-type room forward of the Lido on Deck 9. Laundry rooms on Decks 4 through 8 were clean and all services were free, including the soap and fabric softeners. Thus they were popular areas. The Royal Court theatre was a very nice venue for seeing a show - as nice as any theatre I've been to on land. Much nicer than the one aboard the Crown Princess, which more closely resembled a soft-seat auditorium. The one thing that was apparent to us upon boarding the ship was that there had been no effort made to clean any of the exterior glass. Now, I'm not a dummy and I know that cleaning the exterior glass on an ocean-going ship is a self-defeating proposition. That being said, when we boarded the Crown Princess the exterior glass in the buffet restaurant was clean, as were our balcony doors and glass railing in our stateroom. Not so on the QV. FOOD For the record we chose the second seating to give us time to return from whatever excursion or shore-side activity we were engaged in, clean up, have a drink if we chose, and still get to supper in plenty of time. This turned out to be a good decision. We were seated in the upper restaurant (Deck 3) at table 571, a window table. Our table hosts were Pastor and Edwin, and seeing these two gentlemen were always highlights of our day. We sat at a table for four with a couple from Augusta, Georgia. We got to know these two quite well over the course of the cruise and quite enjoyed their company. However, I still prefer the "anytime seating" offered by Princess with the opportunity to meet new people, and to be seated in a variety of locations. Addressing food is a tricky subject, and it's obvious that what appeals to one palette will not appeal to another. Our opinion is that although the food on the Queen Victoria was at times excellent, at times it was also not to our taste. The best way I can describe this is to say that Cunard offers a very European-type menu featuring lots of sauces, fish, and lamb. What we ordered was excellent, but on several evenings we found ourselves struggling to find enough on the Britannia menu to satisfy us. Call me uncouth or uneducated if you like, but if I look at a menu item and I have no idea what it is, I'm not going to order it. Some people like their salads filled out with goat cheese or snails, I do not. I have no doubt that every one of the entrees on each night appealed to many palettes, and I'm sure the people ordering these menu items found them delicious. For example, the prime rib was the best I've ever had. However, one night the only thing I could see on the menu that appealed to me in the least was the lamb. When I tasted it, it made me gag. We had lobster on the second-to-last night. I cannot figure out why Cunard would take a perfectly good lobster, slice it up, and put it back in its shell on a bed of mushrooms (sorry.... I meant "truffles") and then cover it with cheese sauce. For the sake of culinary art? Yuck. Princess not only served me a nice rock lobster with drawn butter, but on a separate night we had Alaskan king crab as well. I'm here to tell you that on several nights there were more than a few empty tables around us. So again I say, much of what was on the menu was not to our taste, which was a contrast to our experience on the Crown Princess on which not only were there more menu choices every evening, there were always at least two entrees I could have eaten and enjoyed. Again, that being said, there were hundreds of people in the Britannia dining room happily gnoshing away while I turned my nose up, so what do I know? Breakfasts in the Britannia were a different story. The candied French Toast was to die for and the fresh pastries were fantastic. It was too bad that we were always in a rush to get the day started, and couldn't take the time to properly enjoy it. My wife looks at eating as a necessary evil - if she could go the rest of her life without having another meal she'd be happy. I, on the other hand, can languish over a cup of coffee and croissant for a long, long time. I have one peeve here, and it applies to the Britannia restaurant as well as the Lido. When I have breakfast, I enjoy bacon along with my eggs or French Toast, or pancakes, or whatever. Both restaurants offered "English" bacon (analogous to "Canadian bacon" or back bacon for you Yanks) and "American" ("streaky") bacon. American bacon is what we consider in North America to be "regular" bacon. I completely understand why Cunard would want to ensure the bacon served on the ship is cooked, but is there any reason it has to be incinerated? Surely there must be a middle ground between "cooked but some people like it cooked just a little more" and "nuclear-fire charred to the point of causing damage to the mouth". I'm not exaggerating here. The bacon was so overcooked that it didn't even look like bacon in some cases. You couldn't put a fork in it because it would just explode all over the table. The food in the Lido was good, but pretty standard buffet fare. Fruits and vegetables were all fresh, except for the pineapple. By day 8 or so there was no more fresh pineapple, just canned. Loved the pizza/pasta bar - very good pizza, and if you wanted a custom-made one you just stood there adding stuff until it was to your liking. One woman had a pizza going that looked like one of Carmen Miranda's hats. The sandwich bar was also good. My only annoyance was the whole "high tea" deal at 4:00 pm-ish. Unfortunately high tea seemed to coincide with several of our mid-afternoon forays to the Lido for lunch and while I get that many non-Brits find the whole concept of high tea to be "quaint" I am not one of them. When I go up for a late lunch, I want a lunch. Do you realize how many cucumber sandwiches I had to eat to fill up? For crying out loud, at least keep the pizza bar going. There were also several times we had a hankering for a burger and fries from the Lido Pool Grill, but we could never figure out when it was open and when it was closed. It seemed to be closed more often than not. I've already said previously that the specialty coffees weren't fantastic. They were OK, but based on my experiences with Princess I expected better. I was also disappointed that Cunard doesn't offer a specialty coffee punch-card the way other cruise lines do - they only offer this service for soft drinks. Too bad - one of the highlights of our cruise on the Crown Princess was running downstairs for a latte early in the morning and sipping it on our balcony while coming in to port. The selection of bottled and draught beers was superb, as well as their selections of single-malt scotch. DRESS CODE When planning this cruise we tried to get a similar Princess cruise in late September but unfortunately they were booked. Once that was evident our primary goal was to get an itinerary we liked, and pick a cruise line based on that. After a lot of looking it became evident that there was only one itinerary that went to a variety of locations in Greece, didn't start or finish in Barcelona, was at least ten days long at the end of September, and was at least a four-star cruise line... the Cunard cruise was the only one that fit the bill. We were hesitant at first when we learned about the apparent draconian dress code...my wife simply is not a dress-up kind of girl. It's not that she can't. She just doesn't like to. I, on the other hand, wanted to embrace it and hobnob with the snobs, as it were. In the long run she was too tempted by the itinerary, and agreed to it with a certain amount of trepidation. I rented a tux with three changes of accessories, packed more ties than Donald Trump, and generally was excited to have the opportunity to dress in something other than shorts and tee-shirts for a while. Well, I can say without reservation that after this cruise I consider the vaunted Cunard dress code to be more of a suggestion rather than a "code". In fact, as long as you're not around the Queen's Room for one of the "balls" or the Captain's Greeting you can pretty much wear whatever you want short of cut-off jeans and no one will say anything to you. I was aggravated by this. I expected a few really classy evenings surrounded by beautiful people in tuxedos and evening gowns...hell, I even thought that I'd magically acquire Jean-Luc Picard's accent for a few hours on each of these nights. Imagine my dismay when, while ordering a very nice 10 year-old Talisker at the Chart Room bar, a dude walked up beside me in chinos and a golf shirt and ordered a Budweiser. This is where I expected the rather nicely turned-out bartender to counter with a, "Now see here, kind sir. The good Queen Victoria is in a state of formal dress and I am afraid you will have to go straight to your stateroom!" It was not to be. The guy got his beer, and went to sit with a lady whom I presumed to be his wife, who was dressed in shorts and sleeveless top and wearing sandals. I saw the same guy later on in the dining room - he still had on his chinos and golf shirt, but had the good sense to throw on a sports jacket. His wife had exchanged her shorts for pants, but still wore sandals and the sleeveless shirt. During our day at sea we were having lunch in the Lido, and witnessed a fat guy in bare feet, wet bathing suit, and wet tee-shirt sauntering through the Lido and grazing on this and that, and not one person said a word to him. So for every prospective Cunard cruiser freaked out about the dress code, there you go. SERVICE I'm saying this honestly when I say that the level of service on the Queen Victoria was acceptable, but excluding our table hosts Pastor and Edwin, who were superb, the level of service was lower than that we experienced on the Crown Princess. A great example of this was our steward, and the service given to our stateroom. I'm not saying that the service was inadequate, because it wasn't - in fact, it was quite adequate. However, the steward on the Crown Princess not only called us by name every time he saw us, but our kids as well. There were at least two days on the QV on which we did not receive clean towels until well after noon, while on the CP it seemed that we had no sooner used a hand towel and it was replaced. The best way to explain it is to say that on the Queen Victoria we were looked after - on the Crown Princess we were pampered. Room service was the same way - I had a "pail" of beer (really, that's what it was) delivered to my stateroom on the CP, and it seemed it was at my door virtually as soon as I put down the phone. I ordered a bottle of Scotch on the QV, and, once I had managed to explain to the girl on the phone in seven different ways what I actually wanted, it took the better part of two hours to arrive. I was pleasantly surprised at the price of bar and cafe items on the QV. In fact, they were very nearly what I would pay in a bar or cafe in Canada. This was in sharp contrast to the prices on the Crown Princess, which were extortion to say the least. Internet service was still expensive though - $48 for 120 minutes, and the Wi-Fi service itself was terrible. I can't compare it to the Crown Princess because I didn't take a laptop on that trip, but I had two choices for Wi-Fi - take my laptop to one of the areas amidships, or sit in the hallway outside my stateroom (and no, I'm not exaggerating). The Wi-Fi signal tended to disconnect randomly as well. GANGWAYS / TENDERS There's not much to screw up as far as gangways...only once did we have any kind of a lineup to get off, and that was right after arrival our first day in Istanbul. Tenders ran fairly smoothly as well, but depending how on the ball you are it could take as much as 45 minutes to get into a tender once you receive your tender tickets at the meeting point. For those of you who don't know, every time you arrive at a port that requires the use of tenders to get to shore you must collect a "tender ticket" from a staff member at a table at the specified meeting location. The morning's meeting location is specified in the previous evening's daily program, which also specifies the earliest time tender tickets are available. Those persons on excursions are always given preference, and are usually already gone by the time the "general public" begins to be issued tender tickets. Our experience was that distribution of tender tickets to the general public usually began about 15 minutes before the daily program had specified, and the savvy cruisers knew that. For instance, if the daily program said that tender tickets would be available for general distribution at 0900 hrs you could count on getting them at 0845. If you showed up on time, you were already a couple of boatloads behind. On one occasion we needed to get off the ship to catch a privately-booked charter, and we were accommodated on the first tender. All we had to do was ask. Santorini was a stand-out because of the availability of private tenders subcontracted by the cruise line. Santorini has been a cruise ship destination long enough to develop a cottage industry for transferring passengers back and forth between the ships and shore. There's no chance of a permanent docking facility to be built there, so tenders are what are used and there are dozens of them running back and forth which makes getting off and on the ship easy. Compare this to the other tender ports in which only the four ship's tenders are used and you can see that some places getting an early tender ticket is key to getting off the ship in good time. MISCELLANEOUS / INTANGIBLES Alright, now to try and discuss this next part without sounding like a complete dick. Hopefully people will understand that I'm trying to provide information and advice rather than sound like a hater, because I'm not. The simple fact is this: the demographic that populates a Cunard cruise is not the 21 - 40 age group. The Cunard culture and experience appeals to an older clientele, sometimes a much older clientele, and if you're in the younger age group you may want to take this into consideration. There were not many families on board...at least, not many families in the conventional sense. I saw many couples in their late 40's and early 50's who looked to be traveling with at least one, but sometimes two elderly parents. I saw maybe a dozen kids on the entire cruise. If you are considering Cunard, and want to travel with a young family you may not encounter lot of similarly aged kids on board. There's one big caveat here - we traveled at the end of September - in other words, the school year is well underway around a lot of the world and that undoubtedly had an effect on the ability of families to travel. That was one point I wanted to make. The other point is that a lineup or group of people will only move as fast as the slowest person. There were cases on this cruise where groups of people moved very slowly and the truth was that it was usually because of an older person with a cane, or one who needed assistance. This was the case in many different circumstances - gangways, up and down stairs, getting on and off tenders, or just in line at the Lido for breakfast. Sometimes you need to negotiate around a wheelchair or two, or just wait while a group of five or six older people decided where they wanted to sit. This was never really an issue for me, but if you have a young family and you're impatient to get going you may become frustrated. I'll repeat that it wasn't really an issue for us but it was a sentiment I heard from more than one person. One of the areas in which Cunard excelled was their organization off the ship. The excursions were well-organized and anywhere shuttle service was required it was always available and easy to locate. They really did a great job here. One area I was completely dissatisfied with was the HVAC. Our air control was typically always set to its coolest setting, and it was barely acceptable when the outside temperatures were in the low 20's. On the couple of days where it was actually what I would call warm - i.e. high 20's the air conditioning was nothing more than a wish. It was brutal, and on the evening we left Kusadasi we had to sleep with the balcony doors open to get a breeze to cool us. However, the heater worked well...too well, actually. When we steamed out of Dubrovnik the weather was cool, so when my wife went to the stateroom she turned the air control from "cool" to "heat". When I entered the stateroom a few minutes later I immediately smelled something burning. I didn't panic, but called the purser's office to report it. A minute later the smell became stronger, and when I looked up at the light there was definitely smoke swirling around it. I called the purser's office again, stressed the urgency of the situation, and about a minute later a technical person showed up. When he realized I wasn't a nutbar he radioed in, and we had the pleasure of hearing the captain issue a ship-wide call for "assessment team to 7128, repeat, assessment team to 7128!"...followed by a great deal of hustle and bustle that resulted in both a fire team and "snatch team" (I love that term) lurking just out of sight. At one point there were six men standing on our bed with the heating unit dangling by the electrical cord. We got to meet the Chief Purser, Chief Engineer, Chief Electrical Officer, and a few other "Chief Somethings" that I didn't catch. After a great deal of assessment it was determined that a summer-long buildup of grunge and dust on the heating elements in the ceiling caused the smell and the smoke, and we were never in any real danger, and the heater was safe to use as much and as long as we wanted. Yeah, sure. We didn't use the heater again. It was actually quite interesting for me to watch the emergency response and technical assessment because I've been in exactly their position (albeit in a completely different industry) in previous positions I've held. The health centre was not as large as the one on the Crown Princess but offered a spectacular forward view. We never got to experience the hydrotherapy pool, but it looked interesting. PORTS OF CALL Napoli, Italy We didn't use a Cunard excursion here. The plan was to take the fast hydrofoil over to Capri and spend the day there, but due to sea conditions all hydrofoils and even some of the other ferries were not running. So we went to plan B and took a cab to Pompeii, which cost us $90 Euros. Rip-off I'm sure, but it was somewhat mitigated by the fact that it was the last Sunday in the month and admission was free. If anyone is even considering going to Pompeii make sure you do your research and download some maps ahead of time. Rick Steves offers pre-recorded audio tours on his website which will make a tour much more worthwhile then just wandering around staring at rubble. Santorini, Greece Our first tender port, and a beautiful island. This was one of the ones we were looking forward to and it didn't disappoint. We were on shore by about 0900. Once you're there you have three choices: line up for and ride the cable car to the top, which is €4 per person one-way. The line-up can be as much as a half-hour long. You can ride a donkey to the top, which costs €12 each, takes about a half hour, and stinks - you also run the risk of "wall rash" if your chosen donkey tries to wipe you off his back by rubbing up against a wall. Or, you can hike the donkey trail yourself. We did, and it was hot, sweaty, stinky, and by the time we got to the top all I wanted to do was sit, have a beer, and dry off. My opinion is that it's better off to wait for the cable car, pay the dough, and get to the top rested and unstressed. If you hike it you save yourself maybe 5 or 10 minutes. If you want to go anywhere else on the island, do it first before getting caught up in wandering around Fira. Local transportation is cheap, and buses to Oia run every half hour on the half-hour. Just make sure you get there early enough to know exactly what bus you're catching. If you prefer, you can rent scooters, quads, or cars. Give yourself at least three hours in Fira at the end of the day to poke around, and photography in Fira is better later in the afternoon anyway. The last tender to the Vickie left the dock at 1700, so in order to get there in time plan to leave Fira for the dock at 1630 at the latest. You're going to have to line up for the cable car again, and if you think that hiking down rather than up is easier well, you're right, but you still have to avoid the plethora of donkeys, as picking your way through the donkey-offerings on the way down. Kusadasi, Turkey I was blown away by this place. Clean, friendly, and interesting. We took our first Cunard tour here, called "Best of Ephesus" which included a visit to the alleged house of Mary, mother of Jesus, the ruins at Ephesus, the tomb of the Apostle John, the Ephesus museum at Selcuk, a nice lunch at a very nice resort, and finally back to the bazaar at Kusadasi where we were treated to a demonstration of carpet-weaving, which was really a cleverly-disguised sales pitch. A very good day for us, and it really left us wanting more, and eager to get to Istanbul to experience more of Turkey. En route from Kusadasi to Istanbul Here's a tip: do yourselves a favor and find out when the ship will be traveling through the Dardanelles, and specifically when the ship will be passing by Canakkale at The Narrows. Unfortunately we passed through overnight, but I still got up and marveled at the landscape sliding by. We looked to be so close I felt like I could throw a rock and hit the shore. Istanbul, Turkey The first thing that struck me as we slid into port was just how big Istanbul is. For certain it's the biggest city I've ever been to - it just seems to go on forever on both sides of the Bosporus. If the weather's nice you'll have lots of opportunity to take photos of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi, St. Sophia, and the Mosque of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Break out that telephoto lens if you've got it. The only excursions planned by Cunard involved some kind of a Bosporus cruise and we weren't into that, so we decided to set off on our own for the Grand Bazaar. Again we had three choices: walk, about a half an hour, take a taxi, or take the metro. We decided to do the latter, because there is a metro stop on the Galata Bridge right next to the port. We only had Euros and the ticket machines take Turkish lira, so we had to go in the underground walkway (NOT the one under the bridge, but the one that goes under the street - the attendant will tell you where you need to go) and buy a couple of tokens to put in the machine. The metro took us right to the Grand Bazaar, which is the Beyazit stop. For those wanting to do the mosques, this same metro line also takes you right to the Blue Mosque, which is the Sultanahmet stop, and St. Sophia and Topkapi are easy walking from there. Getting back to the ship is just as easy - just remember that if you're traveling later in the afternoon the metro will be PACKED, and I mean crammed full. Get ready to get intimate, and try and breath through your mouth because there can be some spectacular body odor. Our chosen excursion, called "Imperial Istanbul" was the next morning, and it included whirlwind trips to the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, and Topkapi as well as (another) stop at the Grand Bazaar. All-aboard time was 1630, and we sailed at 1700. Samos, Greece We initially looked at this as a wasted day, and one that could have been spent in Athens instead. That turned out to be a wrong assessment. Samos is a charming, laid back island that is just beginning to come into its own as a cruise ship port. It's a tender port so it takes some time getting off if you're not an early-bird. We chose to rent a car in Vathy (Samos-town) for four hours (€30) and toodled about the island for a bit. We found ourselves at Pythagoria, a charming little marina with an interesting church, some very good shopping and many little ocean-side cafes along the promenade. Following that we took a drive back over the hump and up the coast to the little resort town of Kokkari. The whole day cost us less than half of what it would have cost to take the excursion which turned out to be disappointing to many of those who went on it. Piraeus (Athens), Greece We were a little unsure as to whether we should take an excursion here or not, and eventually we decided not to. We done enough pre-trip research that we knew what we wanted to see and decided to strike out on our own. This turned out to be a great decision. Upon getting off the ship we were immediately faced with a transportation dilemma. We knew there was a metro line that ran into the city but that it was a substantial hike from the port gate to the metro. Cunard offered an "Athens on Your Own" that basically gave you a bus ride back and forth to the city, all for about $40 a person. That was a little steep. Then we had to fight our way through the horde of taxi drivers all clamoring for our attention and our money, and some of them made tempting offers. I found it interesting that none of them would give us a ride to the metro station - it was Athens or nothing. So we hoofed it. It was about a 30 minute brisk walk, with stops to check maps and ask for directions, but in the end it turned out to be pretty easy to find. Cost to ride was a euro each. We got off at the Thiseio, and hiked up to the Acropolis. As it was Sunday, it was free to get in (lucky us!) The walk up wasn't particularly grueling, and there was a nice breeze to keep us cool. We spent about an hour up top, saw what we wanted to see, took lots of photos, and were on our way down when we ran into the first Cunard excursions that were just getting there from the ship. Like I said, doing in on our own was a good decision. We went down into the Plaka for a while to poke around, and then made our way through Hadrian's Library, out to explore around the Agora, up to the Temple of Hephaestus, before plunging back into the Plaka again. We finally made our way back to the metro stop and caught the metro back to Piraeus, where we hiked back to the ship. Sore feet, but the whole day only cost us €4. Zakynthos, Greece This is one of the places we booked privately, a speedboat excursion with Levante Speedboat Excursions, Captain Spiros at the helm. We were afraid we were going to miss it because it was a tender port, but we wrangled our way onto the first tender, got a taxi driver who must have been an F1 driver in another life, and got to Tsilivi Harbor in lots of time. Went all the way around to Smuggler's Cove, and then saw the Blue Caves and white cliffs on the way back. Stopped at a little fishing town called St. Nickolas for lunch and some cold beverages before making our way back to Tsilivi. Spiros tried to drop us off right at the ship, but he was told in no uncertain terms to bugger off so he dropped us right at the dock beside the tender drop-off. We were a little surprised that the shops on the island all seemed to close up at 2:30 PM, and since no shopping was to be had so we just went back to the ship. Dubrovnik, Croatia Our first rainy day. We had intentions of doing the same thing here we did in Samos and renting a car to head to the little resort town of Cavtat, but the weather removed all desire for that. Took the Cunard shuttle into town and basically just toodled about for the day doing the tourist things in Dubrovnik. Venice, Italy Cunard offered everyone on the ship a three-day pass for the vaporetto - $25 per person for the 6th, 7th, and 8th of October for as many trips back and forth between the ship and St. Mark's square as a person wanted. After much discussion the little woman and I decided that purchasing the pass would be a Good Thing. 'Twas not, as it turned out. The $25 pass is only really cost-effective if you make more than two round-trips between the ship and the square. We went out on the 6th, spent the day running around Venice, and went back to the ship around about 8:00, where we stayed until we disembarked. Unless you have plans for dinner in the city and you need to go back to the ship to "freshen up" or unless you're staying on board and have three full days in Venice the Cunard pass is NOT worthwhile. As far as my impressions of Venice, well I can say that it was pretty much exactly what I expected. Even though Venice is a city unlike any other in the world everything that gives it its charm has been commercialized a dozen times over. It's like the city planners conceived of a half dozen types of shops, and then duplicated as necessary until all spaces were filled. That's an obvious exaggeration, but it certainly seemed to be the way it was. I hadn't planned on going to the Doge's Palace, but I'm glad we did. It's magnificent. All in all I tried to stay in a romantic mood in the city but my feet were sore, I was tired of being harassed by under-utilized gondoliers, I was sick of looking in Venetian mask shops, and it was too far between benches. It's something I can cross off my "to-do" list, but I wasn't sorry to leave the city behind. OUR PRIVATE BOOKINGS Our first two nights in Roma were at The Ambasciatori, one of the hotels listed by Cunard as a partner hotel. I don't know what anyone else was quoted through the cruise line, but I was just as happy to book on our own for a substantially lower rate. Our final night in Roma after arriving on the train from Venice was spent at the Artemide Hotel. We booked our private transfers through a company called Romaclick, but upon speaking with our drivers we learned that Romaclick is simply a booking agency and they make their money by subcontracting to private drivers and taking a commission. If we were to do it again we would go straight to the subcontractor, who runs a company called Inlimorome. The website is www.inlimorome.com, and the email address is info@inlimorome.com. The owner's name is Adriano, and booking straight through him will save money. The transfers were always right on time, very dependable, and very dependable. Adriano can also help with recommendations for accommodations as well as city tours. I gain nothing by telling you all this - I'm simply saying exactly what I will do the next time I visit Roma. Our speedboat excursion on Zakynthos was booked privately through Levante Speedboat Excursions. Spiros offers two excursions per day - one to Smuggler's Cove and the Blue Caves, and the other to Turtle Island and the beaches around Laganas. Cost was €40 per person and well worth it when I look at what Cunard was charging for their excursions. SUMMARY To summarize, we enjoyed this cruise immensely but noticed a few things about Cunard that we thought they could do better, and also a few things that we thought were superior. The truth be told, if we were offered the identical cruise on the Crown Princess and the Queen Victoria I'm not sure what we'd do. We like the Crown Princess and Princess Cruise line slightly better than Cunard, but Cunard did such a superb job off the ship with the organizations of the excursions that I'm not sure I'd want to give that up. We returned satisfied with Cunard, but unsure whether we would book through them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was the second cruise on the Queen Victoria and my third on Cunard. If you want a subdued experience with a majority of seniors and Brits, this is the cruise for you. No loud music playing throughout the ship as is the case on many ... Read More
This was the second cruise on the Queen Victoria and my third on Cunard. If you want a subdued experience with a majority of seniors and Brits, this is the cruise for you. No loud music playing throughout the ship as is the case on many others. Very few children or young adults. Ports of call included Alletta, Port Said, Limassol, Rhodes, Kusadaasi and Piraeus. Tours was very well organized and the tour guides were exceptionally well informed and fluent in English. The main dining room, The Britannia, has the usual bill of fare - good food and good service but nothing special. Their specialty restaurant, Todd English ($30.00 per person supplement) is very fine with excellent food and service. The Lido buffet is exceptional - food is very well prepared and nicely presented. Food is available at the Lido for 24 hours with plenty of selections at all times. As is traditional, afternoon tea is served with white glove service in the Queens Room every day at 4 p.m. The Commodore Club on deck 10 was a very pleasant place to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. Evening entertainment consisted of a review show and a male singer, a female singer one performance each. Neither was outstanding but pleasant enough. A comedian appeared one night as well and was very amusing. For those so inclined, Ballroom dancing was featured in the Queens Room nearly every night with large numbers of participants. The ship is elegant without being ostentatious - lots of celebrity photos on display depicting the early days of sailing on the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The cabin was comfortable but lacked adequate draw space. The staff throughout was pleasant, friendly and accommodating without being overbearing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Christmas Markets Cruise V025 This cruise did not turn out to be what it said on the packet. Some of it was down to the weather conditions and some down to advertising poetic licence. Christmas markets in most people's eyes are the ... Read More
Christmas Markets Cruise V025 This cruise did not turn out to be what it said on the packet. Some of it was down to the weather conditions and some down to advertising poetic licence. Christmas markets in most people's eyes are the grand events in Germany, Poland etc. and to advertise a cruise visiting destinations offering a Christmas market you are let down by what is NOT on offer The three ports of call were Amsterdam, Zeebrugge - for Bruges or Brussels and Le Harve for Paris and other destinations. Due to adverse weather conditions, the bus tours to Bruges, Brussels from Zeebrugge and Paris + all other destinations from Le Harve were cancelled for weather and safety reasons. Amsterdam - No Christmas market Bruges - arrived there by train, again No Christmas market Le Harve - while not the intended visiting destination, the shuttle to the centre of town was a washout, being a Sunday little or no shops open and their market consisted of approximately 12 little log cabins. Queen Victoria Very disappointed the ship did not impress in a number of ways, given the ship was just out of a refit in Germany the faults with equipment were numerous new coffee machines in the Lido not working within 24 hours, hot water taps in Lido stopped on first complete day and never worked again. Just off the Queens' room, there was a smell of sewage and I know a number of people plus myself reported it to staff, never corrected. Other quests had problems with blocked sinks, toilets over flowing, glasses in state rooms with cracked edges to name a few of the problems discussed. Given the type of cruise, time of year the ship lacks an enclosed swimming pool. Food Lido restaurant - food was a good standard and variety, plenty of choice but some of the hot dishes were not as hot as they should have been. Britannia restaurant - a poor performance all round, staff were poor on our table, orders all wrong, timing of delivery lead on the first night to cold main course. The kitchen was no better, they obviously were not in tune to the printed menu, on a number of occasions the type of potato served was not as per the menu. When steaks were ordered, it was potluck when it arrived as whether it was, rare, medium or well done. Portions were on the mean side - female comment. When we complained to the Maitre'de, on the first evening all he said was sorry, walked away and he never returned on subsequent evenings. Wine waiter was very slow and did not have any idea of availability of wines on the menu, plus did not suggest or advise you - looked as if he was handed the job that night without any training. The next table to ours complained that he had taken 45 minutes to deliver their wine (after main course served), plus they also complained about the food. They never returned on any subsequent night. Cabin was clean spacious and we were looked after by a very good stewardess; could not fault the standard of hygiene exercised by all staff. Summary - drinks over priced, service charge not worthy of its name, food poor, and staff - lacked drive. A very poor performance all round and auspices start for the new captain on her first voyage. Not a patch on the P&O Arcadia, on which we spent 17 glorious days / nights earlier this year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of ... Read More
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of lunch and then later watched as a brass band played as we sailed away with Mr & Mrs Christmas on the quay waving us off. Our first port of call was La Coruna where unfortunately it was raining. That night there was a strong gale which made walking in heels a bit of a challenge but Queen Victoria handled the seas well. Next it was Lisbon, one of our favorite places and again it didn't disappoint, a wonderful town with lots to see and do with some of the friendliest people you could wish to meet. Gibraltar next, 24th December and warm enough to sit in a swimsuit on the balcony! Christmas day on board was a delight, good food, entertainment and a little gift from Cunard, very nice. On the 26th December we were in Lanzarote, while here we went on a trip to Fire Mountain, a trip not to be missed and the landscape is awesome! Our next stop was Gran Canaria followed by La Palma, where it was 74 degrees, and then on to Madeira. We stopped overnight at Madeira and were moored out in the bay when the fireworks went off at midnight New Years eve. It was a fantastic display and from our balcony we had a spectacular view. As always the service on Cunard couldn't be faulted, the only disappointment were the shows which were a repeat, except for the comedians, of the entertainment we saw in August and July the year before! Come on Cunard, if you want us to keep returning then update the shows. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Our cruise on Queen Victoria was one sector of the ship's 2010 World Cruise, ie San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand. We have just booked another cruise (Venice to Fort Lauderdale) for later this year and on looking at the ... Read More
Our cruise on Queen Victoria was one sector of the ship's 2010 World Cruise, ie San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand. We have just booked another cruise (Venice to Fort Lauderdale) for later this year and on looking at the reviews on this forum have been absolutely staggered at the degree of negative responses to Cunard and its ships. It almost seems that some travellers simply set out to be as negative as possible. Obviously there are going to be the occasional problems with any airline, hotel or cruise operation .. especially when you are dealing with 2000 passengers and 1000 crew ... but our experience was that when these were brought to the attention of the proper person they were promptly fixed. We cannot speak highly enough of the officers and crew on QV - and on the ship itself that provided all the service and comfort that was expected. We look forward to our next Cunard adventure and suggest to some of the critics on this forum that they should take a deep breath and enjoy themselves. Isn't that what cruising is all about? Disclaimer: We are not associated with Cunard or any other travel organisation and have submitted this review as personal feedback. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Nine inches of Snow - New York, January 2011, joined the Queen Victoria at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, alongside us The new Queen Elizabeth. Embarkation was a fiasco, the agency handling it for Cunard had a total computer breakdown for ... Read More
Nine inches of Snow - New York, January 2011, joined the Queen Victoria at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, alongside us The new Queen Elizabeth. Embarkation was a fiasco, the agency handling it for Cunard had a total computer breakdown for about an hour! Our first time on the ship although we had done the Queen Mary 2 (just amazing) and the bless her 'QE2'. Went to our lovely Princess Grill Suite on deck 8, wow, perfection! This was going to be our home for the next three weeks! Champagne on ice, strawberries dipped in chocolate and a welcome note from our room steward. Asked Cunard prior for a table for two, so went in to the Princess Grill and were shown to exactly the table we would have chosen ourselves. The trip took us from New York (with its very special amazing Cunard firework 'Three Queens' display that night) to Fort Lauderdale, Bonair, The Panama Canal, one stop in Porto Rico and three in Mexico, eventually washing up in Los Angeles. The ship we found to be truly lovely, like a country club, as usual with Cunard every member of the ship could not do enough for us, the food was excellent (getting to much for us by the cruise end!}, what ever we asked for the answer was 'yes'. Small story...we wandered out of interest in to the lovely Britannia Restaurant to look at their menu (generally exactly the same as our in the Grill restaurants), the maitre'D asked if he could help us "No we said....except there's a course on the menu we have'nt had in the Princess Grill"..."Oh really" he answered.."well can I arrange to send one up to you this evening"...we declined! The Panama Canal crossing was was what we call a true 'pinch yourself. moment, a wonderful day and everyone should do it. The Theatre is stunning (my wife sings Opera so we know a fine theatre when we see one), the boxes were always full, and a lovely touch if you wanted one for a special evening. The Commodore Club (piano player rather to loud for a late night} was where we washed up for a late night drink pre. heading back to our State Room. A tear or two was shed as we headed for Los Angeles where we disembarked This was for us a trip of a lifetime. We went on board to enjoy every day of it, and Cunard and the Queen Victoria made it just that. We are saving our pennies for perhaps (and only perhaps) one year sometime in the future to do another small Cunard cruise..but that's for the future, and all fingers crossed! Wishing happy cruising days to you all who will cruise in the future...Bernard and Elaine ps We read on this site of so many moans about Cunard, their service, tipping, etc. We looked upon our Cunard trips as a privilege not to be squandered. We have worked very hard throughout our lives to enjoy such luxury in our senior years. Yes, we know that it's 'expensive', we know the tipping system before we get on board (same as most others), we know very occasionally the service may fail - but for us we are just grateful that we are still part of the very very few who could enjoy such special holidays, there are many thousands who will never be able to afford such luxury and service, so why spoil a trip like this by moaning about it, when really its not necessary....life is for living to the full... not finding usually petty things to moan about. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Crusing for me is one of the best ways of spending my vacation time. My partner enjoys it as well. This cruise was the longest we have ever vacationed. As you can imagine we loved having other take care of the chores while we endulged. ... Read More
Crusing for me is one of the best ways of spending my vacation time. My partner enjoys it as well. This cruise was the longest we have ever vacationed. As you can imagine we loved having other take care of the chores while we endulged. There were some highlights. Alison Farr played spectacularly on piano with fellow inspiring violinist for several concerts. I was messmerized and thrilled by their flawless interpretations. Another gift of the voyage was a former airline captain who kept audiences in stitches on several occations with his commentary and naughty film publicity clips. The people onboard were mostly mature and cultured guests. Only on rare occation did I witness passengers behaving poorly. One such occation, followed an accupuncture talk, where a senior citizen cut in front of the few people waiting to make appointments with the ship's therapist, ignoring those clearly waiting before her. The ship's staff did not ask her to wait for her turn. Another complaint was that a couple of the guests with electric wheelchairs would drivers into other passengers. Nobody was injured, but nerves were freyed. There were multiple stories told about ill-tempered passengers who hogged laundryroom equipment. One such incident only ended after the ships armed security staff had interviened. For myself, the one incident that could have been handled differently, was Cunard's standard response after having damaged my new luggage. It was considerate of Cunard's staff to use a piece of silver duct tape to close the hole they made in the $150 luggage. But, it seems odd to be told by the perser's staff that one's only recourse is to file a insurance claim, providing I had the forethought to protect my investment from Cunard's carelessness. All in all, there are a lot of words above devoted to describing what passengers might see on any cruise. I would like the reader to take away the notion that I was generally happing with staff's service, decor, weather, safety, and much more. I recommend going on this cruise. Do not let my discription of the few Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. ... Read More
It was slightly less than what we expected. The food was unsurprising,not imaginative or original. We understand they cater to varied tastes. What we disliked most were the pastries. Great wine list but rather expensive. Starting dinner at 8,30 pm followed by a show at 10,30 pm means a very late bed-time.Because of this we missed many shows. We liked the magician and the dancers. Dressing up each evening is a hassle. Dinner is a fussy affair on this ship. You have the option of the self service though. Cabin adequate with comfortable balcony. Staff most friendly and polite at all times. One great plus : the LIBRARY ! The weather during most of this cruise was frisky and cloudy. So we spent a lot of time there. One last BIG complaint. Not for the cruise line. Disembarkation took 4 hours because of long lines at re-entry U.S. immigration.We lost a full half day of our holiday because of this disagreeable interminable long wait. The cruise had a stopover in Ensenada. I would gladly have missed this kitschy,seedy tourist-trap if it had meant a faster disembarkation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and ... Read More
We love QM2 so thought we would try QV. Embarkation, with priority boarding was a breeze,from drop off to on board about 20 minutes. Cabin 8040 is A-1 fwd with balcony. Very clean BUT the bathroom is so small one can brush teeth, pee, and shower all in one place...if you are tall..well, mind your head. Did manage to stow all of our stuff however..suitcases fit nicely under the bed. Our cabin steward, Rick, did a super job taking care of us. We liked the lay-out of the ship, nice feel in all the areas,even tho the ship was full did not feel crowded...we found the staff and passengers extremely friendly, did not encounter and grumps! Our recent experiences have been on QM2 PG dining room so we struggled with the Britannia dining room for dinner. Tho the service was ok the main courses were...tasteless...apps and soups and salads and desserts were good...several times we just had soup and salad. We did enjoy in the Lido, very good fresh made pizza, burgers and great fries, and a good salad selection. Also for breakfast fresh cooked eggs to order. Entertainment & speaker we are split on. I thought the after dinner shows were great the speakers good except for one who was teaching a class...in a dull voice! We had loads of laughs in the Pub for games after the show..or dancing every night in the Queens Room. Cunard has the very best ships for ballroom dancers afloat. Large dance floors! Afternoon tea or a classical concert. Cunard does a super job keeping passengers busy. Or a quiet read in the very nice library. If you enjoy meeting new people than you can't go wrong with a Cunard cruise, we have always found our fellow travelers very interesting and well traveled! We had 4 formal nights in 14 days...I love it... All in all the only problem we had was dinner in the Britannia dining room, we are Calif foodies...and we found the dinner hit and miss! Disembarkation in LA was very smooth. Our time was 8:50am we were at the curb by 9:15am! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that ... Read More
This was our third voyage on Cunard, the first two on the "Queen Mary 2", this one on the "Queen Victoria". Comparing the two ships was easy! They are both beautiful, but the "QM2" shines! She has that extra pizzaz and "wow factor" that is missing on the "QV". After talking with several fellow passengers, the consensus was the same. We loved our balcony cabin with it's tiny shower in the bathroom. One of our tablemates suggested that you soap the shower walls and then "twirl"! Didn't try it, but sounded like a hoot! We had plenty of drawer and closet space. Our room steward, Benny, was very efficient. He kept our cabin spotless and the ice bucket filled. The weather on this particular voyage wa quite cloudy and windy....not what we expected on crossing the Pacific Ocean in February. In the fourteen days we were sailing, we had two sunny days on the ship and only two of the four islands had sunny warm weather. Definitely not Cunard's problem! Our dinner in the Britannia every night was delightful. Sandy, our head waiter, was absolutely flawless in his presentations. He has many years experience with Cunard, and it shows! His assistant, Jacek, from Poland, was my favorite! He is young, eager and ready to go far in this world! What a smile! Our wine steward, Rao, was new on the job with this cruise, and learned his duties very quickly. Three out of the six at our table requested drinks with a little extra flair (blue cheese stuffed olives in their Manhattans and Martinis) and Rao came through! The food was delicious! We ate most of our meals in Britannia,and a few lunches in the Lido. The portions were just right, soups and entrees always hot and tasty. The desserts were spectacular! We had the same delightful tablemates at dinner every night, and sat with different people at breakfast and lunch. We saw all of the shows in the Royal Court Theater. Every one was professional and elegantly done. The costumes were amazing. Two shows featured John England, a pianist who "blew our sox off"! He played requests that passengers asked for during the trip. I do know that "As Time Goes By" will never sound as good as when he played it. My only complaint was that on a cruise to Hawaii, it would have been nice to be presented with a flower lei on landing at any one of the four islands. You could buy them after leaving the ship in the four ports, but that extra touch from Cunard wasn't there. There was no luau on board or offered in the tour packages on any of the islands. We had a wonderful vacation that was a year in the planning and flew by too quickly! I would sail on the "Queen Victoria" again in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
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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