QV Review

A Victorian Queen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACruise: Sydney to Hong Kong, 2010 World Cruise.

Itinerary: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Albany, Fremantle (for Perth), Exmouth, Kota Kinabalu, Hong Kong.

Introduction

Built by Fincantieri and introduced into the Cunard family in 2007, Queen Victoria has become a popular sight around the world. Since QE2’s retirement in 2008, Queen Victoria has benefited from the addition of a number of QE2 crewmembers which, coupled with Queen Victoria’s intimate onboard atmosphere, allows for a pleasant and memorable voyage.

Having sailed aboard QE2 and QM2 before, it is almost impossible not to note how Queen Victoria compares to the other Queens. However, she is her own ship, with a marvellous personality and a happy crew, so any comparisons are made simply as observations.

Queen Victoria docked at the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, which made boarding a breeze. The terminal is set up to accommodate a high volume of passengers, who are sorted into groups including Diamond and Platinum Cunard World Club Members, those requiring mobility assistance and general embarkation. As a time saving method, all key cards (which are used to open cabin doors as well as purchase drinks onboard) are pre-printed, meaning that passengers need only register a credit card and pose for an ID photo before being directed to the waiting shipboard photographers, ready to snap the first of many holiday photos.

Bellboys, dressed in traditional Cunard attire greet you as you enter the Grand Lobby. This stunning room, comprising of multiple levels and a Grand Staircase reminiscent of that aboard RMS Olympic, makes for a gracious and awe inspiring first impression of this very regal vessel.

Cabins and Restaurants

There are a large range of Cabins (Cunard calls them Staterooms) aboard Queen Victoria, which range from the ultra deluxe Grand Suites (named after Cunard liners of a bygone era), to cosy inside rooms.

As with QM2 and QE2 before her, Queen Victoria’s cabin grades are connected to the restaurant that one has access to. There are three grades to choose from, with each grade having a number of categories to suit a range of budgets.

Queens Grill is the pinnacle of onboard cuisine. The single seating restaurant is situated high atop the ship and includes access to the private and sophisticated Grills Lounge. Cabins (actually, these rooms really are staterooms!) in this grade are large, spacious and some come complete with a butler. In fact, the Mauretania Suite boasts an enormous  balcony that overlooks the stern of the ship, and comes complete with an outdoor lounge and bed!

The Princess Grill restaurant is the Queens Grill’s twin. Located next to the Queens Grill, this restaurant is virtually identical in décor and ambiance, and also offers access to the Grills Lounge.  Like the Queens Grill, this restaurant offers single seating dining allowing passengers to come and go as they please during opening hours.

Princess Grill passengers enjoy spacious cabins, all of which have balconies and large closets as well as ample space within the ensuite bathroom.  Passengers often select Princess Grill for the privileges it offers (including a personal concierge service) as well as the slightly lower price tag when compared with the Queens Grill experience.

The majority of travellers who experience Queen Victoria will do so in Britannia Cabins. Unlike QM2 and Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria does not have a Britannia Club restaurant, and thus all Britannia guests dine in the Britannia Restaurant.

Set at the aft end of the ship, over two levels, the Britannia Restaurant is modelled after the Orient Express, and sports dark wood finishes. The focal point of this space is a large globe set amid a stylised mural depicting the Atlantic Ocean, which imitates that found in the Queen Mary’s First Class Dining Saloon.

Service here is attentive and is arranged over two seatings – early at 6pm and late at 8:30pm. Those used to the QE2’s Caronia Restaurant will find the Britannia experience a tad rushed, however Mauritania Restaurant veterans, as well as those who have experienced Britannia aboard QM2, will enjoy the dining experience here.

Other dining options are available. There is the Lido restaurant, with fantastic ocean views and a large selection of foods. We particularly liked the Pizzeria which (unlike that aboard QM2) cooked pizzas fresh to order in just 7-minutes! Fantastic!

Some other favourites included Fish & Chips (and a Guinness) in the Golden Lion, or a cheeseburger at the Lido Grill out on the open deck. Perhaps not the healthiest choice, but you are on holiday after all!

Life Aboard

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Queen Victoria is a very happy ship. Her crew, many of whom have ‘migrated’ over from QE2, are well established Cunard people who undertake their job with the utmost professionalism, while also being personable, approachable and friendly.

This is experienced first hand when meeting your Cabin Steward. We were welcomed by the smiling face of Rowena, who had looked after us aboard QE2 in 2002 and remembered us – a nice touch!

The Royal Court Theatre is situated at the forward end of the ship, across three levels. It is a near-perfect Victorian theatre, complete with box-seats and those fantastic little corridors that connect all the boxes! Here is where you go to watch the guest speakers, which covered a range of topics including destinations, local history and (naturally) the history of the Cunard Line.

Our Entertainment Director was Alastair Greener, who has been aboard Queen Victoria since she entered service, but who has also spent time aboard QM2 and QE2. Alastair personifies all that is Cunard and ensured that each and every lecturer was introduced in a warm and welcoming manner, which was much appreciated.

Aft of the Royal Court and you’ll find yourself in the Royal Arcade (sense a theme here?), which is Queen Victoria’s shopping promenade. In fact, the lower level access to the Casino (one of the only smoking areas aboard) and the Golden Lion – Cunard’s take on a traditional English pub.

The upper level is where you’ll find everything from designer handbags and watches to QV branded bears, pens and key rings. While the earlier Queens shops are a tad understated in their design, Queen Victoria’s Royal Arcade is overstated, in the “Ye Old English” style complete with Victorian style clock. British guests may think it a bit surreal, but for everyone else, it’s just what they expect on a British ship.

Queen Victoria’s Queens Room is a very pleasing space. Far easier to access than that aboard QM2, it took some inspiration from QE2 in that it is designed with the access corridor in mind, allowing for it to be easily found and much enjoyed. The space is actually broken into two areas, the Queens Room (which includes the dance floor and stage) and the Queens Arcade, which is simply extra seating mainly used at Afternoon Tea or other onboard functions.

Fencing lessons are held here, early in the morning, which is a shame as many passengers awaken too late to participate, however they are in high demand so perhaps this was done purposely. The room, while appearing very spacious, seems to struggle to cope with demand at Afternoon Tea time, where you’ll often find a queue of people waiting for a seat, which makes for a less than relaxing experience for those sitting near the entrance (or the corridor). That said, Afternoon Tea is superb, with cakes, sandwiches and some of the tastiest scones on the high-sea!

Responding to negative feedback regarding QM2’s lack of onboard heritage, Queen Victoria has been equipped with a floating maritime museum. Called Cunardia, the museum includes a number of displays that hold actual Cunard artefacts. Especially pleasing is the collection of items displayed outside the Chart Room, including models of Olympic, Caronia, Queen Mary and Cunard Countess.

There are a number of bars aboard. Café Carintha was our most frequented haunt, with the bartenders knowing what we wanted before we had sat down. During the day, the Café serves as a Café, with espresso coffee for sale dine in or take away. Sadly, there is no true barristers aboard Queen Victoria (or any of the Cunard ships for that matter), but I was told that Café Carinthia’s machine made the best coffee aboard!

Just aft of Café Carinthia is the Champagne Bar. This space is more often utilised as excess seating for Café Carinthia than a Champagne Bar, and sports beautiful décor and a mural of the original Queen Mary.

High atop the ship the Commodore Club offers sweeping forward facing views and is a wonderful place to sit with a book and read, or simply watch the world go by. The bar is quiet and has a sophisticated atmosphere that many enjoy.

Just aft of the Commodore Club is Hemispheres. It’s the ship’s nightclub but during the day it is often used for small gatherings. It has a dance floor, band stand and coloured lights to make for a fun evening.

Like most ships, Queen Victoria has a beauty therapy centre and a health spa. What’s nice about the Cunarders is they have a proper thelasotherapy pool, and Queen Victoria’s is located within the Royal Cunard Spa. Other services include massage, a beauty salon and even an onboard dentist!

At night we head back to the Royal Court Theatre for the evening show. The shows varied from musicians to the Queen Victoria’s signature show, Victoriana. The highlight however was when the Acrobalance team called Crazee Horse performed their Guinness World Record acts on stage – even more amazing when you consider the ship was moving and they didn’t fall over once! The theatre was at standing room only that night.

In Conclusion

Queen Victoria is a wonderful ship with a very unique onboard atmosphere. Smaller than QM2, many find her more intimate and personal, which makes her feel very homely early on in the voyage. The décor aboard, while unapologetically designed to look like Old World Britain, is pleasing with a nice blend of colours, tones and lighting. She offers a modern take on old fashioned comforts and as such is a pleasure to sail aboard. We’re looking forward to being back aboard Queen Victoria again in the future.

Note: ** This review is the opinion only of the reviewer and is not a guarantee that the service or experience aboard this vessel will be exactly that which is reported in this review. Every cruise differs from the one before it. Images on this website may be subject to copyright – do not reproduce images or text from Chris’ Cunard Page.