Cunard: Queen Victoria - Guernsey, Le Havre and Dublin
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With five ships leaving Southampton on Sunday afternoon, the
roads into the Docks were jammed with vehicles full of people anticipating
their exciting upcoming cruises.
Fortunately we had booked off-site parking through Holiday
Extras but took advantage of the meet and greet service. Having handed over our
car keys we had only to walk across the road to the cruise terminal. It
couldn’t have been easier.
Later that afternoon, as part of Cunard’s 175th Anniversary
celebrations, all three Queens left in line astern, a great sight for the on
Bringing up the tail, Queen Victoria, the smallest of the
three, holds around 1800 passengers with 75% of cabins having balconies. She is
small enough to be friendly but large enough to have a full range of
Our cabin was comfortable with the usual Queen-size bed, a
small sofa, dressing table, TV and four hanging wardrobes. The bathroom was
compact with a hand basin and fixed head shower with a shower curtain. On each
of the passenger decks there is a self-service launderette, ideal for washing
out clothes needed again or ironing something that may have creased in packing.
Most passengers eat in the Britannia Restaurant which offers
two sittings, the first starting at 6.00pm and the second around 8.00 – 8.30pm.
Passengers in the mini-suites eat in a separate Princess’ Grill whilst suite
passengers eat in the Queen’s Grill. These two Grills, together with indoor and
outdoor lounge areas, are in an exclusive part of the ship.
The Lido buffet restaurant, open 24 hours, is split in two
in the evenings, one part standard buffet, but themed, the other a speciality
restaurant with waiter service for which there is a small supplement. We tested
the standard buffet one evening for the Yorkshire Night which included tender
roast beef carved to order with, of course, Yorkshire Puddings. There is also a top-class French restaurant,
the Verandah, for which there is also a small supplement. Wherever you eat,
however, the food is top class.
A feature on Cunard is afternoon tea in the Queen’s room. Precisely
at 3.30pm, white gloved and jacketed waiters appear en masse, armed with pots
of tea, sandwiches, cakes, and scones with the obligatory whipped cream and
strawberry jam. A string quartet, pianist or harpist provides background music.
It’s delicious and makes a relaxing interlude to the day.
Another popular venue is the Red Lion Pub which serves draft
ale and lager and provides a limited but attractive lunch menu. It also has
darts competitions and pub games.
With all that good food, it’s just as well there is an
excellent and well-equipped gym, and a walking and jogging track on deck 3.
Three laps of the ship is one mile. There is also a range of deck games such as
For on-board entertainment there is a magnificent two-storey
library holding over 6,000 books, a card
room, jig-saw alcove, various board games and an internet cafe, although WiFi
is available throughout the ship.
The theatre puts on evening shows and has its own troupe of highly
professional actors, singers, dancers and musicians. A feature of the theatre
is the boxes. Each holds two people and must be booked in advance. For a small
fee, guests are treated to a pre-show
glass of champagne, canapés or chocolate-covered strawberries, a photo of them
in the box enjoying the show and a bell boy in a traditional red tunic to
escort them to their box; ideal for that special event.
As for our cruise, it was a relatively local experience.
After leaving Southampton we headed out into the English Channel and the
following morning we found ourselves moored off St Peter Port in Guernsey where
we tendered ashore. This picturesque port, with a great history, was occupied by
Germany during World War Two. Our arrival coincided with their liberation
celebrations and the narrow streets were decked with flags and bunting. Closer
to France than England, the street signs are in French and English and the town
has a unique Anglo/Continental feel.
After a great day walking around and soaking up the
celebratory atmosphere we set sail for Le Havre. The rain that greeted us on
arrival soon gave way to sunshine and we were able to stretch our legs ashore.
The port is probably best known as the gateway to Paris, where many of the
guests made their way. Le Havre itself was heavily bombed during the war. It
has since been re-built but in a characterless and uniform way that is somehow
reminiscent of an old Russian city.
That evening we headed out to Ireland and a visit to Cobh.
Originally called Queenstown, this historic town is similar to St Peter Port in
many ways although in this instance the ship docks within two hundred yards of
the centre of town. Small and easily manageable on foot, it is hilly,
picturesque, has delightful shops and, of course, pubs with nautical
connections. Sitting outside watching people and small ships go by there can be
no better place for a pint of Guinness. The locals are welcoming and friendly
and we were sorry to leave.
Next stop was Dublin. Sadly it rained the whole day and
whilst we enjoyed our visit the weather dampened our experience, limited what
we could do and made photography almost impossible. Nevertheless we made the
most of our time there and spent a little more time exploring this lovely ship.
After a day at sea and a chance to catch up on our notes and
photos we arrived back in Southampton but at a different quay. However, as we
had used the meet and greet service our car had been driven to our arrivals
location and was waiting for us just by the ship. A relaxing end to a great
More informationFor details of Cunard cruises on Queen Victoria, Queen
Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2, go to www.cunard.co.uk
or call 0843 374 2224.
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