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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
There’s no point beating about the bush. Booking my first cruise filled me with dread; at one stroke I was destroying my credibility as an independent traveller. 15 years and 40 cruises later, I admit I couldn’t have been more wrong. ... Read More
There’s no point beating about the bush. Booking my first cruise filled me with dread; at one stroke I was destroying my credibility as an independent traveller. 15 years and 40 cruises later, I admit I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sea travel has opened up a new world of exploration and last week I repeated my first ever cruise, but this time with Cunard. Would the grand histories of the Baltic ports be matched by the royal splendours of Queen Victoria? THE PORTS Every city on the Baltic itinerary is steeped in history and if palaces, galleries and cathedrals are your thing then this cruise does not disappoint. And if, like me, you appreciate Scandinavian art and design, the ports have some wonderful specialist shops and art studios as well. Be prepared for eye watering prices, however. A cup of coffee and a pastry in Copenhagen for £9 is one thing, but £925 for a cake slice is quite another, albeit an exquisite one designed by Georg Jensen. St Petersburg remains the highlight destination and these days there is more of an effort to make visitors feel welcome: immigration formalities have been streamlined and stern faces replaced with occasional smiles. This is one port where organised excursions are the only way to enjoy the city’s palaces and museums because independent sightseeing is impossible without a visa. I started with a four-hour walking tour, led by a witty and knowledgeable guide who was as happy to be quizzed about Salisbury as she was to rib Putin. One of many highlights was the Church on Spilled Blood with its onion domes reaching to the sky, still beautiful despite a major programme of renovations. Stockholm’s royal palaces are as good a starting point as any for understanding the city’s history but there is so much more. The Museum of Modern Art on the island of Skeppsholmen is worth a visit, its gardens home to colourful and zany sculptures. Although there is a shuttle bus service available, I found it as quick to take the riverside walk past the Film Museum and enter Stockholm via the warren of narrow streets in the Old Town. Of the other ports, Tallinn is compact and the easiest to explore on foot. My starting point was the 13th century cobblestoned main square where I enjoyed a coffee in warm sunshine. From there I walked up to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an orthodox and gloriously ornate cathedral funded by public donations. Kiel on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast was less impressive. It is twinned with Coventry but has not been as successful in rebuilding after the devastations of war. The Rathaus, or Town Hall, with its ornate interior survived the bombing but Kiel is one place where the best plan might be to book an excursion. THE SHIP Ask loyal Cunarders which is their favourite ship and the answer more often than not is Queen Victoria. I can see why. My cabin was spacious and the public areas luxuriously comfortable, with deep sofas and armchairs waiting to help relieve tired legs after busy days ashore. The dark wood veneers, deep pile carpets in golds and creams, and art deco marble tiling all recall a golden era for passenger ships. The elegant Queens Room on Deck 2 is a popular haunt, not only for afternoon cream teas served by waiters in white gloves but also because it is a ballroom where every evening there is dancing to live music. Cunard dance hosts offer to partner single guests and during the day there are classes led by a professional dance couple. Guests Jane and Robert from Harlow in Essex are keen dancers and the ship’s ballroom was one of the reasons they booked the cruise. “The setting is beautiful,” Jane told me. “We love dancing and enjoyed our times in the Queens Room – but more opportunities for sequence dancing would have been nice.” The handsome two-storey library is well-stocked and the two librarians impressed me with their courtesy and knowledge. At the Purser’s Desk, international receptionists like Lisa from Berlin, Martin from Vienna and Charles from Cambridge were fine ambassadors for Cunard, cheerfully responding to my questions and often providing me with additional maps before going ashore. I cannot think of any area where service was less than excellent. On deck and in the bars, stewards were attentive however busy they were and in the Chart Room ($4.83 for an Illy cappuccino), waiters Julito, Martina and Rolando made every visit special thanks to their professionalism. It was the same in the Britannia Restaurant with waiters Gede and KC delivering faultless service at our table, and Cyril offering expert wine advice. The House wines were good although $14 for a glass of red made my eyes water! The galleys prepare around 5000 meals a day and standards are high. My beef sirloin and pork medallions were first rate, piping hot and full of flavour, and the fish was also excellent, whether the roasted monkfish or the grilled turbot. When I asked for chips, they were delivered immediately. For desserts, and knowing that coffee and chocolates or petit fours would follow, I generally restricted myself to the ice creams. Yes, there were disappointments but they were remedied quickly. My roast turkey one evening was lukewarm and Gede handled the matter without fuss, apologising and returning promptly with a hot replacement meal. There was a wide range of activities to choose from on sea days, from bridge and watercolour art classes to port presentations and talks from guest speakers, all of them well attended. Captain Tomás Connery was seen around the ship every day – always a good sign - and at midday updated us with navigational details. In the evenings, The Royal Court Theatre Company presented music and dance shows to packed houses and there were guest artists too. My favourites were Roy G Hemmings who spent ten years as a singer with The Drifters and Jon Courtenay, an energetic pianist comic. Perhaps because of the Baltic itinerary, there was an international dimension to the cruise. The majority of passengers were British but there were several other nationalities as well – mainly Australians, Americans, Germans, French and Dutch . . . and one South Korean. Does such a mixture have a major influence on menus? Not according to Jackie Bott, the ship’s Hotel General Manager (HGM). “People generally come to Cunard because it’s Cunard,” she told me. “Our international guests tell us that they don’t want to be served with their local dishes. They want to taste British food.” Nancy and John Keisman, guests from Brandon in Mississippi, took the same view. “We loved this cruise,” said John. “Not only for the ports with their different cultures but also for the opportunity to enjoy some great British food - Yorkshire pudding was new to us but we kinda liked it!” Nevertheless some of the food did reflect Continental tastes. The variety of bread and pastries served at breakfast in the Lido restaurant on Deck 9 is one example, with white, black, rye and brown breads, along with bagels and croissants, available each morning. WORTH BOOKING? The Baltic itinerary features throughout the Cunard 2019/2020 brochure and, although I have now done it twice, I would happily do it a third time because each port offers such a diverse range of history and culture. But the real star of this cruise was Queen Victoria and I can’t wait to return on board. HGM Jackie Bott unwittingly summed up the ship’s success when she told me what appealed most about her work in leading a department of 800 officers and crew. “Passengers think it must be the chance to see the world that is the best part of the job, but ports are secondary to people and in any case I’ve visited most ports more than once. People are far more interesting and complex and they are central to everything we do at Cunard.” No surprise, then, that Queen Victoria delivered such a successful cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I booked with Queen Victoria mainly because I liked the itinerary. The Queen Victoria is an amazing boat - spotlessly clean and shiny, elegant and comfortable! It was just beautiful! The staff were very attentive and provided excellent ... Read More
I booked with Queen Victoria mainly because I liked the itinerary. The Queen Victoria is an amazing boat - spotlessly clean and shiny, elegant and comfortable! It was just beautiful! The staff were very attentive and provided excellent service, mainly in the Britannia Dinning Room and my cabin steward. Some staff were a bit aloof but generally ok. They were going to varnish the balcony rails on one port stop however I mentioned I had issues with solvents so they said they wouldn't do my balcony and they did stick to their word on this which was great. I booked a midship balcony as I get seasick. The room was spacious, well decorated and the bed was incredibly comfortable, I was pleasantly surprised it was very spacious and meticulously maintained. The room steward was fantastic. The food was also delicious - breakfast was pretty typical cruise fare with a great choice but from lunch on it was wonderful. Dinners in the Brittania were fabulous and I have to commend the staff there were a few people at our table with allergies and gluten issues and every day they discussed with the manager with regards to the following nights men, so their food could be cooked separately or changed to suit their medical needs. There is a great choice on the menu and the staff are always attentive and remember your likes and dislikes from the previous evening. I was seated at a table of 8 as I was travelling solo, this was great everyone at my table appeared to be solo travellers too. I ate two meals in the Verandah Restaurant and really enjoyed this experience and meal. The entertainment was really great. I went to two lectures and these were interesting and well prepared - not too long just the perfect length of time. There is something for everyone. I did a couple of tours with Cunard but I must say they are expensive for what you seem to get. I had to complain on both tours about the bus driver using the mobile phone while driving and some roads were really scary bendy. The Corfu bus driver was telling the tour guide to tell us not to go in the water at the beach stop of the tour as he didn't want to get sand in his bus...I didn't find that appropriate. I felt rushed on both tours I did. I may have not booked this tour if i realised it was such a formal dress requirement, however I have to say I did enjoy dressing up for dinner and felt not everyone was complying with this requirement. There is a sense of hard sell for the Spa products and at the shops onboard. I guess this goes on all the time, so you just ignore and move on. My embarkation and transfer was smooth and quick as was the disembarkation to the airport. In all i really enjoyed my experience with Queen Victoria, I felt a little left out at times but enjoyed the ports of call. I am sure i would travel with Cunard again should the opportunity arise. I value staying safe and well and you feel this on Cunard. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
It is with a little trepidation I start this review on a cruise. I have reviewed restaurants, hotels and attractions on TripAdvisor but when it comes to reviewing the whole package it is more daunting The review will reflect my own ... Read More
It is with a little trepidation I start this review on a cruise. I have reviewed restaurants, hotels and attractions on TripAdvisor but when it comes to reviewing the whole package it is more daunting The review will reflect my own likes and dislikes but I always try to be objective and reflect actualities. This is the fourth time I have sailed with Cunard and the third time on the Queen Victoria. When I first left college over forty years ago I worked for three years with P&O as an assistant purser so I know the cruise format from both sides. From the start I do believe the cruise is good value for money and is a excellent way of taking a vacation. However I have to qualify this as this time I went as a single traveler and this costs 175% of the normal fare. This made the trip much more expensive. It was for this reason I traveled in a B grade balcony cabin. In the past I have traveled in the Queen’s Grill Q1 and Q3 The cabin I will review later My main concerns were eating in the Britannia Restaurant and apart from the cabin there is little difference in what one receiver. In truth I need not have worried. There are quiet secluded areas in this restaurant and a single table in one of these was what I was allocated. The service was extremely good and I found the menu quite acceptable. I was permitted to “Mix and Match” within the menu and always found something to my liking. I was permitted to have a lobster main course as a starter and there was also Chateaubriand and Beef Wellington. I had the cheese course as well as a desert on more than one occasion and coffee at the table was most acceptable. I have seen reviews highlighting lack of choice and small portions but neither of these issues could I recognise. It would be impossible neigh unhealthy, to eat vast portions in a meal with that number of courses three times a day. I had no problem choosing dishes from different menu areas. I am sure if I had asked for more of a particular item it would have been provided but I do recommend it is always best to make friends with your waiter and head waiter. Doors open. If you want something, ask, don't whinge. The entertainment on this cruise was very good. Much better that the previous year. The singers and dancers were particularly accomplished. The girl dancers were better than the boys. There however was one little bearded guy who had fully mastered all the steps and sequences. If a step has a beginning , middled and an end or continuation most of the boys did not reach the middle let alone the end. With programmes like “Strictly” on the TV every night, people know about hold, core strength, spotting, isolation, step finishing and a great deal more. The “End of the Pier/Pantomime” brigade need to look to there laurels today when providing song and dance entertainment. In general I would commend this troop who provided a good solid show, well produced and with high quality costumes. Classical tastes were well catered for with a string quartet, harpist and pianists to entertain them plus comedians and other musical artists. The ports on this cruise were many, frequent, and various. The distance of some places from the port was a bit problematic , e.g. Florence and Pisa. The over night in Monte Caro was a pleasant addition permitting a night in an hotel on shore, dinner and the Casino. All of which were a great success and I have reviewed on TripAdvisor. Shore excursions are expensive and not really tailored for disabled passengers. I normally have a taxi. This is expensive but you can be taken right to the various places and waited for. The drivers are very knowable and usually speak good english. If you agree a price, durtion, and route at the start you should have no problems. Gibraltar is not necessarily cheap for quality items. I saw a watch that I know is £1750± in the UK boldly displayed for £2278. Be careful!! For what is provided this cruise i believe was good value for money I did however have a few niggles. On my arrival at the ship I had lunch in the Lido Restaurant. As it was a fly cruise I had be up since 6am that morning had nothing to eat except a tea and biscuit on the plane. I was endeavouring to normalise my insulin levels when I was attacked by a young lady trying to sell me a “Wine Package”. I said I was not interested as I have had one in the past I didn't believe them to be value for money. She was most persistent, even trying to sell me a bottle for that night, and offering to fetch a menu so I could choose what I was eating. ‘This would save me time as it was going to be very busy that night in the restaurant'. This whole episode was inappropriate, annoying and tacky. If I had not been so tired I would have made a scene there and then but did not. That evening , on my table was a bottle of “Cunard Still Water” with a card stating I could purchase for so many dollars. This again is tacky beyond belief. I had the jugged iced water for the rest of the cruise. I also believe still bottled water in the cabins should free. There were a couple of signs of cost cutting since the previous year. The ship’s pens are of a lower quality and the pool towels do not have the company logo on then anymore. I used the White Star luggage transfer facility. This is not cheap but worked very smoothly. On a fly cruise the baggage allowance is a bit problematic Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
This was my third Cunard cruise, and as enjoyable as the others. I was happy to board 'Queen Victoria' and rest after days of walking around New York. Embarkation was very smooth and fast. Within 5 minutes of arriving at ... Read More
This was my third Cunard cruise, and as enjoyable as the others. I was happy to board 'Queen Victoria' and rest after days of walking around New York. Embarkation was very smooth and fast. Within 5 minutes of arriving at pier 90 I was on the ship. It was a lovely clear day as we slipped out of Manhattan. What a lovely way to enjoy the impressive skyline! And then we reached the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and did not see land again for 8 days. And so began the last leg of QV's round the world voyage for 2015. It does seem slightly odd that the ship has no large, striking portrait and/or bust of Queen Victoria to serve as a focal point. There are a dozen small pictures in the Queen's Room, but that's it. Queen Elizabeth has a portrait and bust of H.M. and some pictures. For the first time I tried an inside cabin, and it was fine for me. The food on all 3 ships is of the same standard. The service and food in Britannia were very, very good. QV seems to have the best run and certainly most peaceful buffet of the 3 Cunard ships. The Lido was fairly busy at breakfast, but comfortable at other times of the day. (The King's Court on QM2 can seem very busy and quite noisy.) Afternoon tea in the Queen's Room was very busy, so I generally went to the Lido and chose a few items to enjoy while looking out to sea. The days at sea slipped by most pleasantly. The conditions were described as moderate to rough at times, but overall it was a pleasant voyage. The entertainment did not disappoint. It included 3 tenors, the String Idols, an American comedian, an American illusionist. The main guest speaker was Terry Waite. A pleasant cruise, and excellent value for money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen ... Read More
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen because of Cunard's brochure hype about dancing. I therefore applied high standards to the dance environment on the ship. I was able to obtain information from passengers who had been on the previous Hawaii cruise, and also from experienced Cunarders, to verify my observations. Music and Dancing. The Queens Room is a large, two-deck high area supposedly based on one of Queen Victoria's residences The extra height, opening into the next deck, seems to help air circulation when full. The dance floor is about 25' x 50'. It is the most attractive ballroom I have seen on a ship. Hemispheres is located on Deck 10, behind the Commodore Club. Although much small than the Queens Room, is is also an attractive dance venue. The dance floor is large enough for Latin but unfortunately, the floor while wooden, includes a metal inlay. As one might expect, the metal and wood are shrinking at different rates, resulting is some rather uncomfortable raised edges. The following is the text of a letter sent to Cunard regarding the music. I was recently on Queen Victoria V105, Ensenada. I chose this trip over Cunard's competitors (notably, Cunard's sister line Costa) based on the promise of good music and dancing. I am pleased to report the recorded music played between band sets was excellent. While the DJ was not a dancer and did not always get the mix quite right, it was among the best I have ever heard on a ship. Whoever is responsible deserves a good bonus. However, I am being generous to say the Queens Room Orchestra was a disappointment. What music was within British Dance Council tempo ranges, was often by accident, something else having been announced. The noise emanating from the wind section was inexplicable. Several bars into the music, one of the horns would start inane tootling, totally out of sync with the tempo. Almost all of the complaints I heard about off-tempo music actually originated there. Even experienced dancers found it difficult to follow, the drummer not being very strong either. The Orchestra also had the usual problem of playing on and on; one passenger timed an already too-fast cha-cha at 7 minutes. As a Carnival shareholder, I question what cost/benefit calculation is being done, to justify such mediocre music. I was told that voyage V104, passengers walked out in disgust, leaving the band to play to an empty room. I understand some easy-listening, non-dance music is required, but what is the demand for "bossas" and "shuffles", whatever they are? The band Changez was capable of decent Latin rhythms, even some nice ballroom, when they tried, although they often slipped into Caribbean-y mishmash for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. I like many things about the Queen Victoria, but with such unreliable music, I cannot recommend it to any of the dance groups I travel with. The Commodore Club is not a dance venue, although it is one of the most attractive lounges at sea. Food The menu and portion sizes are geared to British tastes. I was very satisfied with the food, but there were just a few too many not-quite-right issues to warrant an unqualified 5. Pub lunch is available in the Golden Lion, and is very popular. Cabins Cunard operates a three-class system. Each class has its own restaurant. Queens Grill and Princess Grill are open seating, Britannia is fixed dining. The Grills also have a (small) reserved lounge and deck area. Otherwise, the ship is open to all. I was traveling in Britannia class. I found my cabin to be nearly identical to most others I have traveled in, one notable item being a shortage of shelves in the bathroom. Dress Code- When Cunard says formal, they mean it: tuxedo, or a dark suit. Jackets required every night in the restaurant (not the buffet). For a short, US West Coast sailing, the dress code was well respected, I saw only one t-shirt/blue jeans. This is apparently better than a UK Bank Holiday cruise. Activities- As this was a very short cruise, only a few activities were scheduled. There were no Captain's receptions. Value For Money- Average, with the proviso that the live music did not live up to the brochure hype. For me, that meant the cruise was not worthwhile. Read Less
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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