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We recently completed the June 10th 12 Day Queen Victoria cruise to Norway. We had cabin 5192 which is located along the back end of deck 5. It is a Q4 cabin. Since many of the folks on Cruise Crazies have yet to have their first QV cruise I thought it would be helpful if I documented my impressions. Overall I really enjoyed the Queen Victoria. I say that as a recent convert to Cunard having only sailed on the QM2 two previous times in the last two years. I have never been on the QE2 so my comparisons here are reflective of my QM2 experience.
While I have noticed that some folks have complained that the ship doesn't look, from the outside, as elegant as the QM2 or QE2 and maybe that is the case. However, you need to remember that the QV is not an ocean liner… it is a very elegant cruise ship. Frankly that is fine with me for except for a few times when I view the ship in port the most important aspect of a cruise vacation for me is how well the ship operates for the passengers on the inside and not how it looks on the outside.
The really good stuff:
Royal Court Theater may be the most beautiful theater at sea. Actually it may be the most beautiful theater either at sea or on land. It is truly magnificent. The theater has about 15 boxes that you can pay to sit in during the major productions ($50/person). We initially reserved a box for a couple of the productions but when we saw how many empty seats there were in the orchestra we cancelled those reservations and just sat with everyone else. You could come to the theater a few minutes before show time and not have a problem getting a good seat. Besides the four major productions by the Cunard dancers and singers on our twelve day cruise there was great entertainment brought in for the other nights including Mac Frampton an amazing pianist, a really funny British comedian, a women singer, a Texan tenor and a gorgeous women violin player. We went to every one of the shows and found them to be outstanding.
Queens Grill Dining Room:
Both the Queen and Princess Grill dining rooms are on deck eleven and are not accessible to any of the non Grill passengers. The Grill passengers gain access to the 11th floor by inserting the room key into a slot in the elevator that allows you to push the deck 11 button. The slight problem is that it takes two or three attempts to push in the card key to make the 11th floor button actually work. A few times while I was fiddling with the card key the elevator got called to a lower floor and I had to go down to Deck 1 before I could go up to deck 11. Also only two of the four Stairway B elevators go to the 11th floor so sometimes there is a wait to get the right elevator going in the right direction. Not a huge problem and worst case scenario is that you go to deck ten and walk up one deck.
The layout of the Queens Grill is fabulous and in my opinion is a much better layout than on the QM2. You enter the Grill from the center of the room rather than from an end. As a result there is not the bowling alley type walk that you have on the QM2. Also the Grill windows are larger and look directly on the water. Unlike the QM2 Grill where there is a passenger promenade outside the windows, on the QV Queens Grill this does not exist. We had a window side table for two and the view outside the window was fantastic…especially when we were sailing through the Norwegian Fjords.
In my opinion the best lounge on the ship and much nicer than the Commodore Lounge on the QM2. It has huge windows and a fabulous view of the bow of the ship. The lounge is huge and had a great pianist every evening. Frankly even given its large size we often had a problem finding a seat in the evening attesting to the popularity of this lounge. Eventually someone got up and we were able to be seated. Also during the day it is the best place to bring a book and just sit back, read and relax.
A little smaller but otherwise very similar to the Queens Room on the QM2. Still the great dancing orchestra and all the major formal events occur here. I noticed on a previous thread someone commenting that it is not an enclosed room which is the case. There is a corridor on the side of the room that goes from the Cunardia Museum to the Casino and Royal Court Theater area. This is not a problem and I never felt that this side corridor took away from the ambiance of the Queens Room experience. The only thing that is a little bit weird, and frankly unnecessary, is that on both sides of the stage there are large wall mounted color TV's that show the activity in the room. These are not necessary and take away from the elegant ambiance of the room.
They really did a good job with the shopping area. It is located on deck 3 between the Royal Court Theater and the second floor of the Queens Room. They have kept it away from the main grand stairway Also, while they still have the evening flea market on a few of the days and nights it is not as large as the one on the QM2 and it is kept in the area around the shops so that it does not take up the entire ship. There are no big name shops like on the QM2 which, in my opinion, is just fine.
The Winter Garden, on deck 9 between the Lido and the main swimming pool is a great space and has a moveable ceiling that opens up on nice days.
Located between the Commodore Lounge and the Churchill Cigar lounge on Deck 10 it is rarely used (except in the afternoon for "Friends of Bill"). It is a comfortable place, very tastefully decorated and a great place to write or read a book.
Cabin 5192 (Both Very Good and Not Convenient)
We had this cabin which is a Q4 Penthouse suite. It was large, had a separate bathtub and shower stall, plenty of storage space and a wonderful balcony that was large and wide that overlooked the back of the ship. The balcony was particularly worthwhile on the days we were cruising up the Norwegian fjords. We loved how the cabin was laid out but did not like how inconvenient it was to the places on the ship where we spent most of our time. The problem is that the cabin is closest to Stairway/Elevator bank C which is primarily used to go to the Britannia Restaurant on Deck two and three while you need to walk down to elevator bank B to get to the Queens Grill and elevator bank A to get to the spa, Commodore lounge and the Royal Theater.
I have no problem walking but the hallways do not go in a straight line and are not very wide and actually changes width as the hallway meanders through various turns between the front and rear of the ship. This inconvenience was further complicated because the service carts, which took up more than half the width of the hallway, were kept in the hallway literally all day long. What we ended up doing was going to the closest elevator which was C taking the elevator to Deck 2 or 3 (which have all public rooms and wide hallways) and then walking on those decks to Elevators A or B. On my next cruise I will book a cabin between Stairways A and B.
Also since the Grill cabins are located throughout the ship and not on one or two decks like on the QM2 it makes the life of the Butler much more challenging as his cabin responsibilities extend between cabins on different decks.
The Disappointing stuff:
Queens Grill Concierge/Lounge:
Despite the great Queens Grill dining room the Grill Lounge does not work on the QV. They tried to combine the QM2's Concierge Lounge (which is on Deck 9 on the QM2) and the QM2's Grill lounge (which is on Deck 7 opposite the Queens Grill on the QM2) into one lounge outside the Grill dining rooms on deck 11 of the QV and they came up short on both lounges. First it is too small. Second, unlike the Concierge lounge on the QM2 (where a lounge attendant is there all day) the lounge attendant on the QV is only there for a limited number of hours each day…a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon. Also and most important to me was that there is no dedicated shore excursion person to help you select the shore excursion for your tours. If you wanted shore excursion info you needed to go to deck one, wait in line and use the same shore excursion folks as the non Grill passengers (Hey don't call me elite. I paid a pretty penny to have a Queens Grill suite). Finally, there is no special entertainment in the evening hours in the Grill lounge as there was in the QM2 Grill lounge this past February. The QV lounge is just not big enough or set up for it (no piano). I hope on the new Queen Elizabeth they go back to the separate format for the Grill Lounge and the Grill Concierge Lounge.
Giving all the hype about the Library I was really looking forward to seeing and using this space. While it is two stories high and has an abundance of wood features and lots and lots of books (mostly travel guide books) it has a very crowded feel and the few chairs that you can sit on to read a book. Also the few chairs that exist are mainly near the windows, which is fine, except the windows in the Library on Deck 3 look out on the storage area for the tender stairway. So rather than looking out at the sea you are looking out at a metal stairway on its side. My recommendation is to check out a book here and go to the Commodore Lounge to read it.
Like the Library an area that was disappointing given all the pre launch hype. It is not a separate room but rather a wider hallway area between the main stairway and the Queens Room. Some of the stuff is interesting but essentially it looks like they had one of the Cunard secretaries go on Ebay and buy whatever Cunard memorabilia that she could find. The Cunardia is not a problem; probably a good way to use some space that was not big enough to be a lounge but it is certainly no big deal.
I had read about this on previous posts and thought it was written by a bunch of cruise purists. But I got to tell you that I was really put off that the balcony table chairs and lounges were not wooden but was metal with a plastic web on the chairs. They looked like the type of outdoor furniture you would buy at the Wal-Mart end of season sale.
Also the floor surface was not wooden but some type of concrete surface with the wood planking literally drawn on the floor. It really looked weird.
These folks are always annoying but appear to be more so on the QV. I believe that they have changed the comp program for the photographers so that they get a larger commission depending upon whether the passengers purchase their photos. When we got off in the ports there was not just one or two of the photographers at the bottom of the gang plank but literally six or seven of these folks chasing you down the dock until you got on your bus. I have a new appreciation of celebrities who are chased by the paparazzi.
Overall it was a great cruise. The shore excursions in Norway were fantastic and the dining room service and food was second to none. We are definitely going to book another QV cruise. Despite some shortcomings it is a truly fabulous ship.