The Queen Victoria, Greenock, 28th July 2010
John Mair - 04-08-2010 – Cunard - Queen Victoria
This visit was to be quite a special one, as it was a ship, and indeed a cruise line to which I had never experienced before, and for the fact that it is very rare to be able to visit any ship from the CCS Brands in Scotland, I was quite enthusiastic to attend.
The ship in question was Cunard’s 90,000 gross tonne Queen Victoria, an extended version of the ‘Vista Class’ design, to which its sister ships are currently in operation with Carnival Corporation’s Holland America, P&O and Costa Brands.
So, on arrival on a typical cloudy and wet Western Scottish day, I was greeted with the wonderful contrasting black, red and white livery, to which I had only seen once before when it docked beside us in Istanbul in October 2008, only the weather was somewhat different.
On entering the ship, on Deck 2, we walked straight into the three deck high, ’Grand Lobby’, with delightful double stairways, and is what is undoubtedly the primary meeting place on the ship.
From there, we were directed to the innovative; ‘Royal Court Theatre’, again set over three decks, but this had the ‘First ever West End style private boxes at sea’
There are sixteen of these private boxes available, and these can be booked by guests on, ‘Royal Nights’, for a fee of approximately $20 per person. For this fee, the guests receives additional value of pre-production desserts and coffee and wine in an exclusive lounge, before being escorted to your private box by a Cunarder Bell Boy. During your viewing of the production, the guest then gets a further half carafe of wine or champagne for their enjoyment. In nights other than the Royal ones, guests can accommodate the Royal Boxes free of charge, on a first come, first served basis.
After visiting the theatre, we stepped outside to the ’Royal Arcade’ and Golden Lion Pub. I thought this was a great idea due to the fact that you can get traditional pub grub style food as an alternative dining venue, and entertain yourself in the daily pub quizzes as you are eating. Very cosy, I thought! (Don’t know why they didn’t call it the Queen Vic though’).
On to the two tier library, where there are in excess of 6,000 titles to choose from, and the wonderful spiral staircase to which you can navigate from tier to tier.
Our next stop was to visit the exclusive ‘Todd English’ Signature Restaurant. For a small cover fee, you can enjoy the most exquisite Mediterranean/Californian fusion food available at sea, very much to be recommended to any discerning traveller.
Onwards, to the ’Queens Room’, a lovely little venue to which was based directly on Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, much loved holiday home of the old Queen herself. This signature room spans two decks and boasts cantilevered balconies to where you can look on at elegant ball room dancing. Through the day, this venue can be turned into a dining venue for afternoon tea and lovely, ‘tea, scones and cucumber sandwiches with no crusts on’ in the very best English tradition. At night, the versatility of the Queens Room is further portrayed when it is transformed into a themed ball room, complete with accomplished orchestra, glittering dresses and penguin suits dancing the light fantastic until the bewitching hour.
We were then transported to Decks 9 and 10, to have a look at the outdoor facilities and swimming pools. I am happy to say that deck space was very generous, with plenty of space for relaxing and sunbathing, (albeit not in Victoria’s current round UK itinerary). We also had the opportunity to have a look around the ’Royal Spa’. I am sure many hours at sea could be taken up relaxing in the large array of massage and treatment offers on display.
We then had the good fortune to visit the private areas of the ‘Queens and Princess Grilles’. There we visited these Grilles private eating and relaxing areas. We visited in particular, the restaurant reserved exclusively for Queen’s Guests the Courtyard for al fresco dining, and also the Grilles Private Deck Area. These are wonderful areas for the premium paying Cunarders, many small details and enhancements that make a Cunard cruise that little bit more special.
As we were visiting the Queen Victoria mid-cruise, we were unable to see any staterooms, due to the fact that the cruise was fully sold out. But apparently this was a cruise to commemorate the 170th year of Cunard, so I could see why this sell out was so!
One o’clock and that meant lunchtime, and thank goodness as I was starving! We had lunch in the inferior, (compared to the grilles) Britannia Restaurant, and what a feast was served before us. I was especially pleased because instead of wine for lunch, we were treated to jugs of orange juice and water. For starters we had lovely, well I am not sure how to describe it, but it was a small sliver of slightly toasted bread, with a tomato paste, surrounded with vegetables and a lovely creamy sauce. Main course was an absolutely sublime tender cut of beefsteak, done fairly rarely as it was very pink in the middle, a medley of vegetables and the smallest amount of mashed potatoes you have ever seen smeared on the middle of the plate. The sweet however was delicious, caramelised apples, with a thin shortbread base and a scoop of ice cream, yum yum. This was followed by tea and coffee. A very lovely lunch.
So, in conclusion this is a very lovely, stylish but understated ship, finished to the highest detail, lots of lovely wood and perfect for the discerning of cruisers of a maybe higher, but maybe middle class positioning. There is some scope for children on board, (a cruise in August has got over 200 children booked on it), but in the mainstream, probably best for adult cruisers only.
If you like formal evenings to be a priority for cruising pleasure then Cunard is probably a good choice for you, with up to 45% of evenings dedicated to formalwear.
This would have been the end of this review, but for the fact that I had a something a little bit special planned for the evening of this ship visit.