Cunard announced in 2002 the intention to build a "New Cunarder" later named Queen Victoria. At 85,000 tons, she was to enter service in 2005 during the company's 165th anniversary celebrations. The "New Cunarder" was to be dedicated to the British Cruise Market operating cruises out of Southampton to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe the Canary Islands and the Caribbean.
In late 2004, P&O and Cunard jointly announced that the "New Cunarder" was to be completed as Arcadia for P&O cruises. The new Arcadia was to replace P&O's previous vessel Adonia which had returned to Princess Cruises.
Cunard subsequently announced the building of a new Queen Victoria which would... "Adhere to the grand ocean liner design inspired by current vessels QE2 and QM2". The three liners would sail together under Cunard colors for the first time in late-2007.
Queen Victoria was built in the same shipyard as Arcadia and her keel was successfully laid down on 19th May, 2006 at Fincantieri with Cunard's Commodore Ronald W. Warwick in attendance.
Queen Victoria (and Queen Elizabeth) are a modified Vista Class design. The Vista Class is a design created for Holland America Line (also owned by Carnival Corp) and has since been used by P&O, Costa and Cunard.
The Cunard ships are unique among the Vista Class, having had a number of alterations made specifically at the request of Cunard.
These alterations allow the ships to undertake direct transatlantic crossings, as well as ensure fleet commonality with the companies flagship QM2, and in Queen Victoria's case, the QE2.
On 4th October, 2006 Captain Paul Wright, who has commanded both QE2 and QM2 during his 26 year career with Cunard, was appointed Queen Victoria's first master. By 15th January, 2007, Queen Victoria was ready to be floated out and a special ceremony was held. Cunard's Managing Director Carol Marlow was joined by Maureen Ryan, the only known person to have served on all Cunard Queens: Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, QE2 and QM2. In recognition of her service, Cunard gave Maureen the honour, in Italian tradition, of being ‘Madrina’ to Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria began her sea trials in August of 2007. After the successful completion of the trials, Cunard officially took delivery of the vessel on the 24th November. She was sailed out of Venice on the 30th of November to her home port, arriving in Southampton for the first time on 7th of December 2007.
She was named by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall on the 10th December, 2007, however the ceremony was marred by the failure of the champagne bottle to break when it hit against the bow. QV departed on her sold out Maiden Voyage the next day accompanied by a fantastic fireworks display and many well wishers. The voyage was a success despite superstitious overtones.
QV departed on her Maiden World Cruise on 6th January 2008 which began with a tandem trans-Atlantic crossing with her older sister QE2. This was the first and only time these two ships crossed the North Atlantic together.
During the voyage QV's design was put to the test against rough Atlantic seas. QV met her two sisters in Southampton on 22nd April 2008 - the three liners spent the day in close quarters before QV and QM2 departed the city (QE2 was under refit). This was the final time these three liners would be seen together due to QE2's retirement in November 2008.
In May 2008, Queen Victoria suffered damage when she hit the pier in Malta. Although the damage was minor, the ship required repairs which resulted in the port of La Goulette being missed. The cause of the collision was deemed to be failed thrusters which were required to safely dock the ship.
Queen Victoria set out on her second World Cruise in January 2009. During this voyage she was commanded by QE2's last master, Captain Ian McNaught.
Throughout 2009 the ship was sent on a number of European Cruises. In 2010 Queen Victoria set out on her third World Cruise. During a call at Sydney, Australia the ship was illuminated in Pink Light to raise awareness of Breast Cancer Research.
During this voyage, the ship was joined by Captain Chris Wells, who was aboard to familiarise himself with the Vista Class vessel before taking command of Queen Elizabeth in late 2010.
In early 2011, Queen Victoria completed her second transatlantic crossing, this time in tandem with the new Queen Elizabeth. Uopn completion of this voyage, the ship participated in the January 13 2011 'meeting of the Queens' in New York Harbour. All three ships met in front of the statue of Liberty at 6:45 pm for a fireworks display. The Empire State Building was lit up in Cunard-red to mark the event.
In October 2011 Queen Victoria's port of registration was changed from Southampton (UK) to Hamilton (Bermuda). The change saw the name Southampton removed from her stern, and replaced with Hamilton, while lifebuoys and lifeboats were also repainted to reflect the change. Her call sign also changed from GBQV to ZCEF3 as a result of the change.