QUEEN VICTORIA Review
By Ernie Roller
June 10 – June 22, 2008
12-day Voyage of the Vikings
Category: A1 – Outside Balcony
Restaurant: Britannia (lower level)
Cruise North Sea
Cruise Norwegian Sea
Cruise Norwegian Sea
Hellesylt / Gieranger, Norway
Olden / Nordfjord, Norway
Cruise North Sea
Captain – Christopher Rynd
Staff Captain – Andrew Hall
Chief Engineer – Colin Black
Hotel Manager – Jacqueline Hodgson
Entertainment Director – Amanda Reid
I currently reside in Atlanta and I am in my early 40’s. I sailed on this cruise with my brother Fred who is a couple years older and lives in the Philadelphia area. I have sailed on over 70 cruises on a variety of lines from Carnival to Silversea.
It’s an interesting story how we ended up on this cruise, as sailing to Norway wasn’t a high priority. Last year we booked the QV on an 8-day tandem crossing with the QE2 in January. About a week before sailing Cunard called to advise the ship was oversold and would we be interested in a “deal” to move to another sailing. Let me just say the deal was too good to pass up so off to Norway we went!
I flew non-stop on Delta to Gatwick, which was arranged by Cunard. No complaints. Upon arrival at Gatwick I took the Gatwick Express train into Central London then a cab to the Trafalgar Hotel for a one night stay. My brother was already there as he flew into to London two days early. In London we did the usual sightseeing and saw the play Avenue Q which was hilarious!
We took a train from Waterloo Station to Southampton on the day of sailing, then a cab from the train station in Southampton to the ship. It was effortless.
A job well done by Cunard. We were through check-in, security, and on the ship in no time. Although we were not escorted to our cabin, we were greeted by the red capped bell boys which was a nice touch. This reminded me of Holland America.
Our cabin was 8031. It’s a standard balcony on Deck 8. If you can book this cabin, by all means do so. Not only is the cabin interior larger than a typical balcony cabin, but so is the actual balcony. Please see the pictures link. The cabin was well decorated and laid out, and extremely clean. Beds are very comfortable. What is missing is drawer space, shelves in the bathroom, and wireless Internet service. Also, unlike QM2 the TV is not interactive. Playing on the TV is the Cunardia Channel, which I love. It’s nice that Cunard appreciates its history to such a great extent they even have a dedicated TV channel. Bravo!
I have to admit I was not overly excited about sailing on QV. It wasn’t long ago I sailed on OOSTERDAM and really didn’t care for the design. I was skeptical that sailing on QV (which is a modified Vista Class) would feel too much like OOSTERDAM. Thankfully I was mistaken and Cunard has done an excellent job giving this Vista an identity of her own. The layout, design, décor, etc. is nothing like OOSTERDAM and I felt QV offered a far superior experience. I’m also happy to report that QV felt like a Cunard ship. It’s hard to define exactly what the “feeling” is, but anyone who has sailed on QE2 and QM2 (especially on crossings) knows what I am talking about. Did I like QV better than QM2? No, but QM2 is really quite special and unique. It’s hard to compare other ships to her. I won’t even get into QE2 since she will be leaving Cunard service soon anyway.
Standouts on QV are the Commodore Club, Café Carinthia, Hempheres, the library, and the Queen’s Room. These were my favorite areas of the ship.
As already reported, deck areas are plentiful but no real teak is used. This is unfortunate but I was informed the budget simply ran out. As it is, QV is the most expensive Vista Class ever built. Like all Carnival Corp. ships, she was built on a specific budget and the designers had to make choices. Frankly I’m willing to forgo the teak so that some beautiful two level lounges were created.
Service was excellent all around. I never had any issues with waiters, bartenders, cabin stewards, etc. Everyone did his or her job and did it well, and all with a smile I might add. Overall QV seems to be a very friendly ship with a happy crew. This being said, most of the crew I spoke with wanted to return to QM2 for the next contract. I have heard the crew accommodations on QM2 are quite excellent, and perhaps this is part of the reason.
I won’t go too much into food as it’s so subjective. Overall I found it quite satisfactory. I did hear some complaints but you can never please everyone. Of course some dishes were better than others, but I don’t think there is any risk of starving onboard QV. Personally the least appealing aspect of the food was the buffet. I found the lunch items offered to be bland and not very appealing. Perhaps they were just not suited to my American taste as the buffet seemed quite popular with the majority of other passengers.
A total of 1887 passengers sailed on this cruise. 1354 from the UK and 277 from the US. 29 other countries were represented with small numbers. As I expected, the average age was quite senior. My brother and I in our early 40’s certainly represented two of the youngest people onboard. Nonetheless we still enjoyed our fellow passengers and even found a few others our own age. Age is a state of mind anyway, and this particular group of passengers really seemed to enjoy themselves. The ship was not a dead zone after 10pm which was the case on my last Holland America cruise. People stayed up, watched shows, danced, and even went to the nightclub on occasion. The ship felt very alive regardless of what the average age was. There were very few children onboard. Maybe 3-4 that I saw then entire cruise.
I really enjoyed the entertainment. There was something to do each evening both before and after dinner. Usually it was pre-dinner drinks in the Commodore Club with friends, then dinner, followed by a show, then more drinks and perhaps dancing. It was quite easy to fall into this schedule and it was very enjoyable. The Pub was always popular as was piano player Barrington “Barty” Brown in the Commodore Club. I also enjoyed the Paradise String Quartet and StagEZ in Hemispheres. There were several production shows and I enjoyed most of them. They were not the best I’ve seen but far from worst. I think the “boxes” that you pay for in the Theater are a waste of money. There is plenty of other seating with better views then the boxes offer. Getting a good seat was never a problem. What would a Cunard cruise be without ballroom dancing and of course fancy dress? Yes, there were plenty of both in the Queen’s Room, which was a spectacular setting.
We were seated at a table for 10 in the dining room, which was also the Chief Engineer’s table. We all got along famously and I have no doubt we will remain friends for years to come. One evening my brother and I were invited to the Senior Officers Party followed by dinner at the Captain’s Table. I had met the Captain and his lovely wife Julie on a previous QE2 cruise and it was nice they remembered me. Being a bit younger, my brother and I usually ended up in Hemispheres. Usually there was a theme night up there like Abba, Rock n’Roll, or the 70’s. Some nights were better than others, and we found some dance partners from London that were quite fun.
This cruise was really about the incredible scenery. I have been to Alaska which is also beautiful, but Norway is unique and worth seeing even if you have sailed to Alaska. We experienced The Midnight Sun for probably five days of this cruise. It’s odd when the sun is blaring through your balcony door at 3am. Luckily the curtains do a very good job of blocking out all the sunlight. I also think the constant daylight kept passengers out later than their usual bedtime. It just seemed odd going to bed when the sun was shining so brightly.
We only took two tours. In Geiranger we took The View From Mt. Dalsnibba and it was well worth it. In Olden we took the Excursion to Briksdalen Glacier and we were both a little disappointed. I thought we would actually be walking on the glacier, which was not the case. It was also rainy that day so that detracted from the experience a little.
Most of the towns were small and easy to navigate on your own. Keep in mind that Norway is very expensive. Inexpensive fish and chips at a fish market will set you back $20 easily. Everyone was very friendly and everyone spoke English. Norway is the 3rd wealthiest country in the World and its people are highly educated.
Geiranger was the highlight of all the ports for me. It’s simply stunning and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
All good things must come to an end and so it’s time to disembark QV. My brother and I booked the Cunard motor coach to Heathrow and our flights left that afternoon around 3.30pm. It all went well and we made it back to our homes late that same evening.
eroller at bellsouth.net