December 2007, Southampton, UK — Step aboard any passenger ship
these days and you're likely to hear classical music in the atrium
and see waiters lined up to serve guests in the formal dining
room. While those may seem contrived or even pretentious on some ships, on Cunard
Line's splendid Queen Victoria, they are authentic touches.
Marlow, Cunard's President and managing director points out, Cunard
ships are ocean liners, not
cruise ships, and they sail on voyages, not cruises. What's the difference? Queen Victoria features
the double- and triple-height spaces that define grand passenger
liners and has a strengthened hull to withstand any type of seas.
of "Eos & Carinach" signed by
Prince Albert in 1840
Cunard's long-standing tradition of excellence sets the mood
for Queen Victoria, and her interior spaces reflect the
grandeur of the line's history. Those dramatic double- and triple-height
spaces flow easily into intimate alcoves. Artwork commissioned
especially for the ship doesn't overpower the simplicity of original
etchings hung in the Queens Arcade. Created by Britain's Queen
Victoria and her husband and consort Prince Albert in 1840, they
embody the mix of classic and modern found throughout Queen
She's regal, yet comfortable as Chris, an outgoing Australian
crewmember who has now served on all three Cunard Queens, shared with me. He
describes Queen Victoria as a "condensed" version
of Queen Mary 2, with more of a "feel" and the
intimacy of Queen Elizabeth 2. His pride, both with his new
home at sea and an invitation to attend the Naming Ceremony, were
Admittedly, my two days on board weren't nearly long enough to
experience the ship as a passenger would on a voyage, but let's take
a look around. Welcome aboard.
There's no question that you've arrived when stepping
into the Grand Lobby. Three decks in height, it falls short
of being the tallest at sea, but it makes up for that in style.
Anchoring the main staircase is its signature artwork—a three
dimensional sculpture depicting Queen Victoria parting the
sea. It's truly an impressive piece, but no more so than the
sweeping staircases and curved balconies that overlook it.
quiet corner in the Queens Arcade
No Cunard liner would be complete without a ballroom and Queen
Victoria is no exception. Inspired by Queen Victoria's own
Osbourne House, the Queens Room is two decks in height with a
1,000 square foot dance floor centered beneath a shimmering crystal
chandelier. While it will naturally be the setting for fancy dress
balls, I came across three duelists on the dance floor demonstrating the art of
fencing, an activity favored by Prince Albert that will be practiced
aboard Queen Victoria. Adjacent to the Queens Room is Queens
Arcade, an inviting space where I could certainly enjoy
Equally as grand as the ballroom is the Royal Court Theatre.
Spanning three decks, it is distinguished by upper level private
boxes, where—for a fee—occupants can sip champagne while
watching West End-style productions and well-known entertainers.
As on other Cunard vessels, the level of accommodations
you reserve determines your assigned dining room. The Grand, Master,
Penthouse, and Queens Suites dine in Queens Grill, Princess Suites
dine in Princess Grill, and all others in Britannia
Queens Grill & Princess Grill—High atop Queen Victoria,
both single-seating Grill restaurants are cantilevered over the side
of the ship and offer splendid sea views. Guests also have exclusive
access to a private lounge for cocktails and an adjacent Courtyard
Terrace for al fresco dining.
Restaurant—Simply one of the most stunning dining rooms at sea,
Britannia's two-deck height is emphasized by repeated by Art Deco
"cloud" patterns and the ten-foot world globe that
visually anchors the lower level (pictured at left). Dinner is served in two assigned
Todd English Restaurant—Draped columns and alcoves give Queen
Victoria's specialty dining venue a faintly Moroccan atmosphere
and create an other-worldly backdrop for dining on celebrity chef English's superb
Mediterranean cuisine. Reservations are required and there is a fee.
Casual Options—Here's where you'll find choices as
diverse as breakfast and lunch served buffet-style in the Lido
Restaurant, traditional British pub lunches in the Golden
Lion Pub, and pastries and tea in Café Carinthia, a
stylish French patisserie. In
addition, the Hamburger & Salad Bar aft on Deck 9 serves
up a lunch alternative. I highly recommend the pub grub, especially
the fish and chips.
Where else are you going to play, relax, and sleep?
Victoria -> Part Two
Victoria -> Part Three
© Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com
From Cruise Diva's Blog