Despite being a state of the art cruise-liner, THE QUEEN VICTORIA by Cunard is designed to have a luxury ‘vintage’ feel, clearly aimed at vintage passengers.
Having been in service for just over 10 years, this ship has a grace and class that is rare on the seas in 2018.
The ship is beautiful, the service is extra-ordinary & the destinations you will visit will provide memories for a lifetime.
However, the entertainment is dated, the pool & pool area is too small, some of the food is average and the rules on-board will leave this cruise line redundant in 15 years…
Enjoy our HD TV / Video review via YouTube:
You cannot fail to be impressed by the grandeur and beauty of the ship both externally and within the main public areas.
You are made to feel as important as the world renowned vessel itself.
I have to admit though, at times it does feel like a 6* floating care home as you wander past the ballroom dancing, walking sticks and sit through cheesy nightly entertainment.
In reality, due to it’s price and entertainment diary – the only people who have the time, inclination & can afford to travel on Cunard, are mostly 60+ (ok 70+).
Along with the old school atmosphere, there’s outdated rules too. Dinner is either at 6 or 8.30pm and men must wear a jacket – yet women do not have to.
If you don’t like regiment and rules – this is not the cruise for you.
By the end of week one I realised most of the rules are quietly being overlooked as long as you are respectful and do not offend the other passengers.
On-board everything is charged to your room in US dollars.
Wifi is available at a ludicrous $50 for 2 hours. It’s 2018 ffs!
During your entire stay you will feel like Royalty. The service is phenomenal.
I wanted to sample 2 weeks on Cunard for one reason only – to travel to as many top European destinations, on the most beautiful ship available.
BINGO – The Queen Victoria…
Costing just over £270M, it’s not surprising that this one of the most beautiful ships on earth.
Your average two week cruise on-board QV is between £4000 & £7000.
Everything is state of the art and the engines are almost inaudible. The aircon is the only minor distraction.
The rooms are (presumably) deliberately vintage and feel very 70’s. These do not match the luxury feel of the public areas.
So who is Cunard aimed at? Well, they would say everyone!
There are some under 50’s on-board but they are rare. Honestly the entertainment, atmosphere and overall on-board feel is not looking for millennial approval.
The first week on-board I didn’t hear a single person laugh or see anyone have any ‘fun’. Surprising.
You might think I’m being hyper-critical, but, this cruise costs a fortune. I’m very entitled to be!
As you walk through the lobby you get classical, 1920-40’s or jazz – this is perfect for their core clientele. No doubt in the next 20 years Cunard will have to change radically to survive.
With only 2000 passengers on-board, unlike most that now have 4000+, you’re getting a luxury feel holiday akin to a floating 5* old school luxury hotel.
This is my first time on a luxury liner and it is impressive. Considering the difficulties of achieving faultless service on water – Cunard do a magnificent job.
Boarding can take a while and is the most stressful part of the trip. Once you reach the ship doors – you’ll be blown away by the classic opulence.
The public areas of the ship are faultless, impeccably clean and offer infinite old school class & luxury.
Your bags will be delivered to your room after been checked in at the terminal.
What did surprise me as a first time traveller was the ‘presumed knowledge’. We really weren’t told anything and this can be overwhelming.
There’s tons of information in the room, but this doesn’t help with the specifics.
It was the last day for example when I found out there’s food in the pub. Who knew?
Despite being one of the smaller ships – it’s still enormous with over 1000 rooms, a huge theatre, several restaurants, gym, 3 pools and 12 decks.
Your voyage begins with the mandatory emergency demo from the crew. Although it somehow feels pointless, it’s non-negociable.
Attend and get your life jacket on or they’ll come and find you!
So, to the room to begin. We stayed in 6108 – a very spacious room with a huge balcony with three sun loungers – very impressive. They are not all this big!
The rooms feel somewhat dated, even though they are not, but this is not trying to be a modern boutique hotel. It seems to be designed in tribute to MFI & beige.
Who cares, the rest of the ship is gorgeous and ask for a window table in the dining room, the views will blow your mind. Magical…
You will get all of your luxuries including a dressing gown, slippers, hair dryer as well as tea & coffee etc.
Sadly I did feel corners were being cut. Pedantic but the tissues were cheap and rough – certainly not 5*. These are the little things that experienced travellers notice.
Naturally you get a butler/maid who cannot do enough to help. They’re quite superb. They’re unbelievably friendly and efficient. Nothing is too much bother.
You are also welcomed on board with a half bottle of delicious Champagne…
Room service is available 24/7 within the price of your cruise. It’s an extensive menu too and excellent quality food as you would expect.
Do take advantage. This is arguably the most decadent part of your trip.
From burgers, salads to a crab sandwich – it can be delivered 24/7.
Breakfast can also be delivered to your room until 10am free of charge. This is perfect for the balcony – especially when sailing in to port. Glorious & memorable.
All food is included on the ship, however, if you want water in your room it’s $20 for 6 large bottles or $3.50 each.
Unlike other cruise lines where alcoholic & soft drinks are included or discounted in packages – all alcohol and soft drinks are charged whilst on-board Cunard.
However, go to the Lido restaurant on the 9th floor 24/7 (or use room service) and get tea, coffee, juices and water free.
The rooms are fully air-conditioned, however it’s a little noisy and I do not believe you can turn it off. Once you’re used to it you’ll be fine. Annoyingly mine was directly above the bed.
The bathrooms are simple but adequate. Again, dated and compact but the amenities are of high standard.
You obviously get endless towels and soap, shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and lotion restocked twice daily.
The joy of 5* luxury is the nightly turn down service. A refresh for the room + chocolates and tomorrow’s schedule all left during dinner. They’ll even close the curtains for you.
There is dry cleaning on-board but you’ll also have access a free launderette. This does get busy but will save you a fortune and is very convenient.
Throughout the day you can enjoy the various bars and a pub. There’s also a mini-bar in-room at an extra cost.
The main opulence by far with Cunard is the food. It never stops!
The Lido offers food all day buffet style and there’s truly something for everyone. Sometimes the quality was hit and miss.
At lunchtimes it was sometimes akin to school dinners – very disappointing.
Your day culminates with dinner at your pre-assigned table on the two floor Britannia Restaurant.
This is without question the centrepiece of the ship (even though it’s at the back).
Some menus were better than others inc lobster and steak on formal nights. There’s certainly something for everyone!
Cunard is quite precise and strict for obvious reasons with meal times.
You’re given a table for dinner and although they try and be as helpful as possible, on a full ship (like ours) it is almost impossible to change tables.
The dress code is baffling to me. On formal nights, men have to dress up like penguins whilst women can wear more or less what they like – incredibly outdated and somewhat tedious.
You are requested to wear a formal jacket every night from 6pm. I guess the pomposity & elegance of Cunard & its passengers is their main appeal…
There’s silver service in Britannia and a delightful 3 course meal is served swiftly nightly. The service is impeccable.
If you’re in more exclusive cabins there are other restaurants on the top deck that most do not have access to. I cannot comment on their fabulousness.
Every night there’s something special whether it be steaks, scallops, fish or soufles.
It’s very impressive and you certainly will not leave hungry…
Afternoon tea is served daily in the Queen’s Room between 3.30pm and 4.30pm.
If you cannot be bothered with the pomp, then room service or the Lido is for you. There’s everything you can think of, all cooked fresh and replaced regularly.
The night of boarding and the night before leaving are the most informal nights.
Open all day the Lido has informal / casual buffet style dining for all meals (and those in-between)…
You will certainly not be short of food, and like me, probably feel guilty for the ludicrous over indulgence.
Well, don’t worry, there’s a gym on the 9th floor to work it off overlooking the front of the ship!
With daily classes, free weights, running machines & cross-trainers – there’s something for everyone…
The pools on-board are small but fine. Do not jump – it is not deep! There’s one at the front and back of deck 9.
Space is limited on deck and you may struggle to find a sun bed. I’m told people get up early to put towels on their chosen sunbed. Unbelievable.
I was surprised how little room, and how compact the pool area is. This does not feel luxury at times. Days in port are much quieter…
Bizarely there is not an iron in the room, however, you will find an iron/ironing board in the launderette.
If you’re bored in the day you may wish to use the casino, card room or even help complete the jigsaw puzzle in main atrium.
There is a library on board stocked with every type of book you may wish to borrow…
You’ll find shops on board selling reasonably priced clothes & essentials. There’s also an art gallery if you want treat.
There’s a Cunard gift shop with affordable presents for those back home and a pub on-board with twice nightly entertainment. The Jazz band were terrific.
There’s a huge ballroom floor on deck 2 akin to the Blackpool Tower.
On the 9th floor each evening you can enjoy a quiet drink with a solo artiste…
The glorious Queen Victoria Royal Court Theatre is home to the big acts at 8.30pm & 10.30pm to coincide with meal times.
Sadly I found most of the entertainment from the on-board crew low rent, shouty, outdated and disappointing. Certainly not 5*.
In fact their choreographer appears to suit a Vegas strip club more than the worlds #1 luxury liner at times.
The ‘My heart will go on’ scene with Titanic video behind was a personal highlight. Quite surprising – laughably bad at times.
When we booked, Angela Rippon was the star turn promoted on all of the website info. She didn’t appear without apology.
The headliners who are flown in (all from the UK) were polished and professional but not to everyone’s taste. I can see now why ‘cruise ship entertainers’ are often the but of showbiz jokes.
Cruise comedians clearly have the same 25 jokes they all share. Joke-oke more than cabaret.
The consensus on-board was that most didn’t bother going as they’d seen it all before. Clearly there’s a small rotation of acts. They certainly play it ‘safe’.
I was amazed that the comedians chose to mock fat American’s, the infirm and old people – basically their entire audience. Very misguided.
The musical acts were repeated on two nights both weeks – very cheap for a luxury cruise liner.
Most nights I would have just preferred to listen to the sensational on-board Live band. Terrific horn section.
Look at this sensational theatre…
Everyday you’ll be offered the opportunity to go on excursions. They’re not cheap and do restrict you, however, the ship will never leave without you if you’re with a Cunard excursion.
We mostly made our own way in port and you have more than enough time to see most places you visit.
The dilemma is always that you’ve spent so much money to be on the ship…why spend too much time off it?
For me the best thing about Cunard was the food, service and balcony.
To sail into and out of port with room service and a cocktail was magical.
Some ports use a tender to get you to shore. This makes it impossible for some passengers with mobility problems.
The views are truly sensational! You’ll never forget these sights…
The night before you leave you are required to leave your bag outside your cabin and disembark the ship by 8am.
This does somewhat ruin your last night as you only have the clothes you will travel in the following day.
So overall The Queen Victoria by Cunard is an experience that you’ll never forget.
Tips are added to your bill. You can have them removed and give the tips personally to the stewards and servers who work their ass off. You can leave a proportion for everyone else.
At 38, I’m going to leave it a couple of decades before I return but I’m certainly glad I gave it a go.
5* opulence, pomposity, service and food.
4* cabins & the best holiday on earth for 60+.
Review by Alex Befield for Celebrity Radio 24th Sept 2018.