Being my secret favorite of the three Queens, it was a long-awaited short trip to Southampton for private pleasure as well as a chance to check out the newest refurbishment that had just taken place in 2017.
Having been planned originally as an addition to the Holland America fleet back in 2003, Queen Victoria´s order was soon transferred once again to Carnival´s other British operator P&O to become Arcadia, as the changes and modifications that were necessary to operate her as a Queen would have become too difficult to include in the current design.
Therefor, a “second” official order was placed a year later in 2004. This left the hull 11 meters longer, 5,000 tons heavier and with an increased capacity of almost 2,000 passengers slightly bigger than the original construction intended to. She entered service in 2007 and was successful with the highly traditional Cunard crowd from the very first moment, sovereign of the fact that the first bottle of champagne did not break during her christening, which is a rather dark omen within the maritime world.
Ten years later and close after the remastered QM2, Cunard modernized Vickie with refreshed interiors, newly implemented venues and the addition of luxurious suites and cabins to the rear of the ship, which left her having the same steep stern as her sister ship Queen Elizabeth. Highly conflicting for the majority of the Cunard guests, this design change proved extremely successful for Cunard. And it was more than time for me to see all these new changes during a mini cruise from Kiel to Southampton just a week ago.
Spreading over three decks altogether, the Royal Court Theatre takes up a large part of the forward Decks 1 to 3, offering a beautiful surrounding for the onboard shows and solo artists. The boxes to the sides are available for rent, but as I found their views somehow limited, I prefer to sit in the Grand Circle for the best experience. Cunard shows are particularly traditional, offering more concerts and specific musical artists rather than Broadway production shows. They had an English comedian up one night who was truly hilarious!
Our cabin, a Britannia Deluxe Interior (1043), lied also on Deck 1. Snootily also called the “Poop-Deck”, we actually found the location quite convenient with easy access to the main bars and venues on decks two to three. It also proved extremely quiet as no other cabins bordered directly to it and the size felt almost like an interior mini suite. While the bathroom seemed actually a bit squeezed (the installed shower is difficult to operate for everyone over 5´7″), the living area with a full sofa and a table completely made up for this. A wonderful cabin which we would not hesitate to book again on a future cruise on Queen Victoria!
Next is the ship´s atrium called elegantly Grand Lobby. Connecting Deck 1 with Deck 2 and 3, it is the beating heart of Vickie at every time of day. While soft tunes of a live piano player enrich the air during the day, the evenings are enchanted by harp players and mood lighting.
Deck 1 is also the place, where you will find the Purser´s Office (Front Desk), one of the many Internet Centers or Voyage Sales.
Forward on Deck 2, right behind the Royal Court Theatre, lies a Cunard favorite: The Golden Lion Pub. This venue serves traditional British snacks and drinks and is a very, very popular spot during the day for officers and guests for lunch, as well as during the evenings for a game of darts and a pint of Ale.
Right across, the small and not so popular Empire Casino. Unlike other Carnival Corporation lines, Cunard guests in general spend way less time to gamble than any other cruise company guests. Therefor, the area seems way limited from what you normally are used to on other ships.
Amidships on Deck 2, the elegant Queens Room. This is the premier location for the Cunard Afternoon Tea which is served here daily beginning at 3:30 pm. Especially on sea days, it is a very good idea to arrive here between 30 and 15 minutes in advance in order to comfortably sit in one of the arm chairs of your choice. Everyone after 3:30 pm had to wait in line for quite some time in order to get seated, which truly is not a very chic beginning for tea time.
We prefer to sit in the Queens Arcade. The tables next to the corridor are perfect for enjoying the sweet nibbles while watching the scenery around. Soooooo entertaining!
And in the evenings, Queen Room transforms into a lively ballroom and disco scenery where guests can dance the night away Cunard style.
Grouping around the Grand Lobby, the Library may not be as impressive as the one on QM2, yet it´s two story layout decorated completely in wood resembles the Victorian style perfectly and in an unbeatable elegant way. It almost seems that Harry Potter could come walking up the spiral staircase, doesn´t it?
Another highlight which I will cover in a specific post is the speciality restaurant Verandah. It is one of the best cover charge dining venues (39 US$) that we have experienced so far and truly a wonderful location to celebrate life and the love for excellent food.
Chart Room, right across the atrium from Verandah, is heaven for chocolate and cake lovers. This spot has been completely redone in a contemporary Art Deco style and serves now mainly as the ship´s café, serving Godiva chocolates and pralinés.
Completely revised, the Britannia Club Restaurant and the corridor towards the lower level of the Britannia Restaurant.
It is highly speculated that this new style is a foretaste of what will be waiting aboard the new Cunard Queen debuting in 2022 (I think, Queen Anne would be a perfect name, don´t you agree?). I particularly like the colors and Art Deco style of the new dining venue for Britannia Club guests. As I normally do not see much of a privilege of traveling in Club (we prefer a fixed late seating rather than one open seating), on Queen Victoria the design of the restaurant would definitely be a reason to reconsider…. .
Right adjacent and towards the stern of the ship on Deck 2 and 3, Britannia Restaurant. This time, our table for two lied on the upper level close to a window. Service was wonderful and the menu offered each day a lovely variety. A few guests around us were a bit irritated by the “slow”-paced of the service, but we all know that this is always a highly subjective impression and for us, this left perfectly time to enjoy the meal without feeling rushed through. So absolutely nothing to complain about.
Deck 3 hosts one of the most favorite places on Cunard ships: The Outdoor promenade. Different than on most Vista class ships, Queen Victoria features wide decks that make it rather easy to pass walking people when running my errands in the mornings or afternoons.
It is also perfect to enjoy a chilled bottle of sparkling wine on a sunny day at sea while relaxing on one of the beautiful teak deck chairs …
… or to take a stroll after dinner to enjoy these magnificent sea views during sunset or to simply soak in some fresh Ocean air.
Getting carried away? … .
To be honest, shopping aboard Queen Victoria is not the most exciting thing to do. There are just a few shops with no real deals inside Royal Arcade, yet we did very much like the new red or black Cunard umbrellas, which we took as a helpful souvenir back home. Other than that, the arcade is a beautifully designed area, but a bit more modern variation of contemporary brands would definitely upgrade the experience.
Midships Lounge, port side on Deck 3 with views into the Grand Lobby , concentrates mainly on a huge variety of different Gins. While the ambiance and atmosphere in this bar were quite inviting, we did not feel to have enough time to truly dive into this wide topic and postponed a visit to a longer cruise. This is also the spot that serves the three exclusively for Cunard distilled Gins which are only available on the ships!
A Card Room on Deck 3 offers space to meet for games or a set of cards.
Deck 4 to Deck 8 offer stateroom and suites only. The corridors have all been updated with new carpeting. A very helpful detail is the differently colored framing of the carpet: Red for port side, green for starboard side.
The Fitness Center on Deck 9 forward has received new weight machines and fitness equipment. I really like it, because it gives access to a little outdoor deck from where you can enjoy panoramic views.
The Royal Spa includes a Thermal Suite and different saunas, yet is in my opinion not worth the extra money. Celebrity Cruises´ Persian Garden on the Solstice ships is still unbeatable!
Enclosed to the spa lies one of the main pools, Pavilion Pool. This is considered as the family pool. We did not go once, so unfortunately there are not tips from my side here, sorry.
After the renovation, Winter Garden has been reopened as a country club styled sports bar. Contemporary seating invites for a relaxed afternoon coffee (or Team Time if you prefer to take it up here. On order only!). It is a wonderful retreat for a quiet moment, yet we experienced unacceptable service attitude from the staff up here.
The Lido Restaurant, on the other hand, definitely wins one of my most favorite buffet venues apart from HAL´s Koningsdam one. The selection and quality offered was absolutely satisfactory for breakfast and lunch. I loved the fruit section and the lunch buffet was always a delight. For dinner, I would rather recommend to head over to Britannia Restaurant.
Another major facelift went to the Lido Pool on the aftdeck of Deck 9. With the addition of sun sails spending shadow, a new outdoor seating area was created and new sun loungers and lounge furnishings have been established. In the evenings, these outdoor seats may be used for an Al Fresco dining experience which comes at extra cost, which I certainly do not understand the concept though. And while it is officially declared as an Adult only swimmingpool, there were plenty of kids during the day…. A HUGE improvement necessary from my point of view!
While there is no Commodore Club like the one on QM2, Queen Victoria´s combined observation and bar lounge on top of the ship is still a wonderful venue for pre-dinner drinks. Our favorite spot is on one of the Chesterfield sofas facing the forward. It is particularly a great place to sip cocktails when the live Jazz band is playing!!!!
Smoking (cigarettes, cigars and pipes) inside the ship is allowed in the dedicated smoking lounge Churchill´s.
And for those loving to dance the nights away, the newly decorated Yacht Club offers the perfect spot to enjoy hovering over the parquet.
Unlike Queen Elizabeth, Vicky does not have a full sports deck available. But apart from keeping fit while walking the outside decks, guests can enjoy a party of extra large chess or practising their tee-off while at sea. And, of course, enjoy the views…
Deck 11 forward is a wonderful quiet spot for sun bathing or a game of paddle tennis and shuffleboard. Unfortunately, there are no showers around up here, but luckily the way to Pavilion Pool is not too far. It is also a popular spot for lookouts once the ship passes through scenic areas (like here when we passed underneath the impressive Oeresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark).
Apart from the boat deck promenade, one of the best lookout spots to enjoy those never ending Ocean views accessible to Britannia passengers.
Once you have the privilege (and of course the budget) to cruise in Cunard´s Grill classes, guests enjoy access to a private deck area that includes a dedicated cocktail lounge called the Grills Lounge, a private sun deck as well as exclusive restaurants. In other words, Cunard has been the only ship company that has offered a continuous dedicated Suite class product ever since.
Mini Suites guests can enjoy their dedicated table in an open seating inside the Princess Grill Restaurant …
… while passengers traveling in the ship´s most exclusive suites and penthouses are treated in the Queens Grill Restaurant.
In between, a beautiful outdoor café and bistro called The Courtyard invites for a relaxed afternoon tea or snack. Al Fresco, of course.
And to top the luxurious offer, Grill guests have exclusive access to two outdoor sun decks. One facing towards the Pavilion Pool, the other one circling around the beautiful red funnel.
Oh, it was a wonderful three nights getaway onboard my beloved Queen Victoria. And now that I am doing this portrait and looking at the pictures, I hope I will soon be able to enjoy the tradition and style aboard a cruise ship that very well continues the flair and atmosphere of an ocean liner. A wonderful ship for people who enjoy a very classic way of cruising, without age limits.