Review: Queen Victoria
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
So you don't know whether you'd like to go on a cruise?
47 people found this review helpful
I was going to say 'virgins' – but that doesn't seem appropriate given our ages (pace – Wendy, Elizabeth, Maggie, Fred et al). Like you, before we ever stepped on board, we were not at all sure that hell wouldn't be other passengers (to misquote Sartre). How wrong we were! Our Trans-Atlantic crossing wasn't our first – and it won't be the last. 'Bish' and I have now done several trips with Cunard, travelling 'steerage' (inside cabin) initially, to a suite on our last voyage.
So what's it like on board and what's it like travelling from Southampton to New York? First of all I had vowed I would never travel across the north Atlantic in the dead of winter. As it turned out I didn't need thesea sick pills and we had better weather at sea as well as New York, which can be perishingly cold, than in London. The view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty as the ship comes into port is quite simply stunning.
Secondly, thanks to an upgade we were thoroughly spoiled with a suite. What bliss! Spacious, with butler service, a cocktail bar, a huge balcony which we actually sat on once or twice though not for long, and a splendid marbled bathroom. Other perks included eating in the a la carte restaurant. Believe me I can be tempted to eat lobster most nights of the week!
In case you're now thinking you can only really enjoy Cunard if you' re in a suite, not so. While we had extra perks available in a suite all passengers on board in our experience are extremely well looked after. Cunard prides itself on its high levels of service; its staff take a real pride in their jobs. Two examples – the chef, who unasked, made sushi for us on another voyage; the steward en route to New York who went more than the extra nautical mile to find me some 'grenadillas'.
So what's life like at sea? First of all there is a lot more room on board than you might imagine. Even an inside cabin is surprisingly spacious and not claustrophic unless you're inclined that way. The public areas – lounges, bars, restaurants are elegantly appointed and generally not crowded, though they can get busy at certain times – such as pre-dinner drinks, breakfast if passengers are going ashore; the pubs if there is a big football match on.
There's also plenty to do on board – if you wish. Or simply nothing. We usually walk on deck after breakfast; go to a lecture if there'san interesting speaker (Jane Asher was one en route to New york); go to a movie in the afternoon, or in Bish's case, an art class if there is one.
Highlight of the day is Afternoon Tea – a real putting on the Riz affair with white-gloved waiters, serving a cornucopia of sandwiches,cakesand freshly baked scones- accompanied by musicians, some of whom it has to be said, are not always that great. But hey it's fun and we love the ritual!
We're not that bothered about meeting other people though we're not anti-social.Unless you have a table for two you will be dining with fellow passengers.The set menu is good with plenty of choice. Unless it's a la care dining there are two sittings- a very early one or a second sitting at 8.30 which we prefer. After dinner there is always a show in the magnificent theatre. Artistes vary – Cunard have to cater to catholic tastes after all. The ships company are accomplished and very hardworking. Lots of pretty girls (and guys) to look at too.
There are usually two formal nights a week, including the Captain's cocktail party. Not a problem for me as I love dressing up. If you don't then you can eat in what I call the 'smash and grab' canteen. And talking of dresses one of the great advantages of travelling by ship is packing and unpacking only once. Plus the pleasure of not going through airports or enduring the 'night fright' to long haul destinations.
Downsides? Excursions ashore can be pricey – but then Cunard has to make a profit surely? The same goes for other on board purchases especially wine and photographs. Their website can be a pain at times…
I've no idea what it would be like travelling solo though Cunard do make an effort to cater for singles. A widowed friend found bridge was a good way to meet people on board. I'm not sure it's for younger people – most of the passengers are of a certain age.
If you're a rugged independent traveller then cruising may well not be for you? We enjoy it so much we are off on the Queen Elizabeth Baltic cruise in a few week's time and can't wait! 'Nuff said.
47 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.