Much has been said recently about this new Cunarder and I have been in general, dismayed by the negative reviews she has garnered since entering service late last year. Even before she had her first cruise the naysayers were condemning her ... Read More
Much has been said recently about this new Cunarder and I have been in general, dismayed by the negative reviews she has garnered since entering service late last year. Even before she had her first cruise the naysayers were condemning her shape and the quality and styling of her fitout, mostly before seeing her let alone stepping foot on her. Interestingly enough the same complaints circulated about the Queen Mary 2 before her launch and previously the now much lauded QE2 had horrified travelers in the 60s by her now perceived iconic profile. Both ships are now regarded as icons and woebetide anyone who criticizes either ship. The recent negative reviews of the QV on this forum have made me wonder if the writers and I had been on the same ship. After spending several sectors on her during her recent Maiden World Cruise I think I had enough time to explore her and all her services without coming to any hasty decisions. I personally, was thrilled with her, the fitout is superb and the experience was exceptional, the crew efficient and from all accounts happy and the Captain gracious and very sociable. This has made me wonder...who would write reviews, unless you had an axe to grind or a particular complaint to make why would you bother? I figured therefore that its about time that those many of us who have enjoyed these ships should get out our pens and warm up our mice and start having our own say and try and redress the balance.....
so here goes......
Background, I am a New Zealander in my late 40s and a Cunard Platinum Traveller. I have previously travelled with groups of friends and family ranging from 8 to 12 people. This was my first and longest cruise travelling solo and I embarked in Singapore and travelled through to Southampton.
Comparing the Ships To compare the QE2 and the Queen Victoria is like comparing an old grey mare to a young filly. The mare has been around for a long time and you are very fond of her, she has a solid pedigree and everyone forgives her for her laterday gammy leg because of her years of faithful service. Her colors are faded her mane is tatty and shes tired and likely to refuse the odd jump. The filly on the other hand is fresh and chomping at the bit to prove herself. Everyone who sees her makes comparisons to her predecessors but she's her own master and is keen on showing her own personality even if during her first few races she faulters and stumbles she will, with experience prove her worth and show her detractors wrong.
The Fitout The decorators charged with the design should be commended for the way in which they executed her decoration. It was a pleasure to be in each space, you only have to see pictures of her interior to know what I mean , the flow from one room to another was smooth and well executed. As mentioned previously the commodore club is a great space, much improved on since the QM2 with windows that reach down to the floor making great viewing when coming in or leaving port. Cafe Carinthia made great coffees which were about $US2 per cup, but the muffins and cakes were free. Lunch here was also very pleasant and on the one rough day on our trip the cafe was packed as it was a comfortable place to sit and watch the waves go past. Much has been said about the theatre, so I cant add anything here other than to say it is a fantastic space and everything you have read about it is correct. My other favorite room on board was the lobby. There was live classic music played here most days and it was a great place to sit and people watch, on port days they had local groups play in this area and it was a great welcome home after a day on land. The ship also held Kitchen tours, there were several each sector and I went on it a couple of times. Each time I went on it was different and at different times so you saw the kitchens from one extreme to another, from been sparkling and serenely quiet to bustling and full of chefs. Ask the purser to put your name on the list and they will ring you when they are organizing the tour. The only downside to the trip was some of the other passengers. There seemed to be an element on board that appeared to be out to make sure that neither they or anyone trapped into buying into their unhappiness enjoyed themselves or the ship. As I said to one particular passenger after an encounter with them, I had paid far too much money to be on the ship to be grumpy and neither should they.
Accommodations Travelling solo, I was forced into paying the dreaded single supplement which amounted to 175%, however with the various discounts I received, early bird booking, previous passenger, world club and booking on a previous cruise etc, I was able to make a considerable saving, (about 50%) I travelled in an inside d7 category cabin on the 4th level. It was great, beautifully fitted with muted colors and the bed one of the best I have have slept in on a ship. I had no problems with the storage in the cabin, and infact had an empty drawer which was often offered for rent and became a running joke amongst the people I socialized with onboard.. For one person,there was plenty of room and I would have no problems booking the same cabin again in the future. The shower seemed to be a normal size shower to me and the bathroom although compact was perfectly adequate.
Travelling Solo I was a little hesitant about travelling solo and was concerned that this may have hampered my enjoyment of the trip.I was led to believe that they sat all solo travellers together on the one table however this was not the case and solos are just fitted into other tables depending on numbers. Fortunately the Maitre D, Jean Paul suggested I might like to dine at a different table each night until I found one I was happy with and so each night I would arrive a little later and he would sit me accordingly. This worked very well and it was only a couple of nights before I found a great table and was happy to stay put. During the cruise I met a number of people who had spare seats at their tables and I was able to join them for a meal. It was very easy to meet like minded people on the ship and I wouldn't hesitate to travel solo again and in fact am looking forward to it. (2010 at this stage)
Excursions Once again as I was travelling solo, I took mainly shipboard excursions. Fortunately the crew in the Travel Office on the ship were helpful and very knowledgeable of their product. I found the tours to be good value for money and the overnight excursions of which I took one (Safaga to Luxor, Egypt) were really well organized and in fact a lot of fun. I noticed that they seemed to fill the buses about 50% capacity. This meant that everyone who wanted one, got a window seat which was very much appreciated as there wasn't a lot of pushing and shoving to get on to get the most desired seats. There was a number of times when tours arrived back late at the ship and of course the ship waited. There were several passengers left behind during the last two sectors of the world cruise who had toured on their own and arrived back too late. I am sure a few more were grateful that our ship tour buses had been late and they didn't have their own names added to the hall of infamy! I particularly enjoyed the several excursions that included lunch and/or dinner, you could always guarantee you would be in for a treat, our stops in India were good examples of this, Chennai, Cochin and Mumbai.
A special mention I feel its important to comment on the recent review which mentioned an incident where a single passenger was put off the ship in Hong Kong for one reason or another, I normally wouldn't do so but it has left an incorrect impression of the incident which I feel deserves redressing. Yes, the charge was Indecent Behavior, and its unnecessary to go further into the details in this forum however I think the Captain dealt with it in an entirely professional and discrete way. A number of rumors circulated around the ship after the incident, however contrary to one particular rumor the fact of the matter is that the incident was proven, admitted and witnessed by a third party. I commend Captain Rynd for dealing with it in the manner he did, it must have been a very difficult decision to make and one I am sure one he did not do lightly considering the ramifications on all effected. To make further comment on the circumstances in a public forum without the full facts being disclosed is unfair to all parties concerned
In Summary If you are considering a cruise on the new Queen Victoria, ignore what you read one way or another and go and find out for yourself. Travelling is what we make it and if you go with an open mind and no preconceived notions of what to expect you will gain an terrific experience and memories for years to come.
LONG LIVE THE QUEENS (all 3 of them) Read Less