“We’re here to serve our guests”
Queen Victoria Hotel Manager David Hamilton

Samuel Cunard was already a successful Halifax businessman when his bid to transport the Royal Mail by ship from Great Britain to Canada received assent from Queen Victoria.

The ocean liners that Cunard and his partners commissioned carried passengers as well as the mail – but one wonders if even Sir Samuel (knighted by Queen Victoria) would have envisioned the legendary status that his ocean liners would attain.

Cunard enjoys one of the highest rates of repeat business in the cruise industry, a sure sign that the company pays close attention to customer satisfaction.

Like her predecessors and sister vessels, Cunard’s Queen Victoria caters to well-seasoned travellers who enjoy the cultured atmosphere of classic luxury liners. We quickly discovered why Cunard has long been the ocean-going choice of Royalty, captains of industry, Hollywood stars, the wealthy and the rich.

It’s a world where outstanding service is the norm and where guests enjoy an environment of comfortable elegance.

We’d like to introduce you to Queen Victoria, with special attention to those aspects that make her and other Cunard vessels unique. Our voyage took us to fascinating ports in Spain, Portugal and France. Onboard we found a world of sophistication, gentility and living history.

Even before boarding Queen Victoria, we learned that she was an ocean liner – not a cruise ship. There is a difference in design; ocean liners having a deeper draft (the hull going deeper into the water) to provide greater stability for passengers and crew as the ship sails the world’s oceans.

The tradition continues with sailings being described as “voyages”.

Boarding a Cunard ocean liner for the first time on a wonderful spring day in Southampton, we were immediately impressed with the pride that the staff and crew expressed at being ‘Cunarders’; proud of the line’s tradition of first class ocean travel that they represent and are entrusted to maintain. Many have sailed with other companies and have worked their way up to Cunard and the line’s newest ship – Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria is lovely with her sleek lines, sharp bow and trademark black, red and white Cunard colours.

She easily lived up to our expectations for Cunard liner; from the mahogany panelling and sweeping staircases of the truly elegant Grand Atrium, to the opulent Queen’s Room; Cunard’s signature ballroom – the only cruise line with a multi-purpose ballroom at sea. Hotel Manager David Hamilton states, “Our gentlemen dance hosts find that they’re kept quite busy in The Queens Room – it’s a service that our single ladies appreciate.”

The two-deck Queens Room, complete with crystal chandeliers, a large dance floor, and adjacent Queens Arcade is designed for dancing, cocktail parties and Cunard’s famous English afternoon High Tea. It’s one of the focal points of onboard activities – from afternoon dance lessons to the Captain’s Black & White Ball. The ladies beautiful in their evening gowns; the gentlemen elegant in black tie formal wear – and everyone enjoying the Officers Gavotte, a Cunard tradition whereby the gentlemen dancers, paired with ladies to the left and right – advance to the next pair of ladies after each dance segment. The Ball is a wonderful introduction to the Cunard world where elegance and chivalry hold strong. During our seven night voyage, we enjoyed two formal nights (black tie or suits), two semi-formal nights (suit and tie) and three elegant casual evenings (jacket, no tie). Dressing for the evening adds to the sense of occasion – that you have been transported into another realm.

The 800 seat Royal Court Theatre combines the opulence of red velvet, gold leaf trim, and modern technology to enable the producers to stage top quality West End and English Music Hall shows. The troupe of 16 classically trained Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers are backed by an orchestra of outstanding musicians. Queen Victoria has introduced a Theatre Box Seat package that offers seating in one of only 16 private boxes accommodating two to eight guests. Queen Victoria has introduced a Theatre Box Seat package that offers seating in one of only 16 private boxes accommodating two to eight guests.

They enjoy individual armchairs and cocktail tables; with a choice of dessert and coffee or champagne – served by white-gloved theatre ushers. After the performance, guests are invited back stage to meet the performers. Modestly priced, this package makes an already special evening into a truly memorable theatre experience.

Victoriana is a spectacular production that takes the audience back to the music halls of London and other English industrial cities when workers enthusiastically filled the halls. Created specifically for Queen Victoria and her passengers, it took two years to write, choreograph, produce and create the elaborate period costumes for Victoriana. The result is a remarkable performance that had the audience jumping up in spontaneous applause. The
Chairman (a musical version of a Master of Ceremonies) concludes his alliterative introduction of each act with a resounding crack of his gavel. The show has a fantastic climax with the cast and audience waving Union Jack flags and singing The Last Night Of The Proms.

At a time when so many productions are mimicking Las Vegas circus acts – Victoriana is a unique and heart-warming performance of song, dance and comedy.

Cunard is also famous for the guest lecturers who provide informed and entertaining presentations, usually with an audio-visual component to illustrate the talk. We attended a fascinating presentation about the life and music of Frank Sinatra; and on another occasion – the sometimes tragic history of The White Star Line.

Lecturers are experts in their respective subject matter, and skilled presenters.

Executive Chef Bernhard J. Stumfel brings a lifetime of experience in preparing fine food for discerning guests; including The Waldorf Astoria and 19 years with Cunard’s now retired QE II.

“We serve approximately 8,000 meals a day, and each one is prepared individually. There aren’t many places that still offer Beef Wellington and Duck-a-L’Orange – but they’re customer favourites on Cunard ships.” The impressive two-deck Britannia Restaurant is the ship’s main dining room.

Mahogany, gold leaf and Art Deco designs have been employed to re-create the elegance of the famous London-to-Paris Golden Arrow train’s dining car. The exclusive Queens Grill and Princess Grill dining rooms are located on Deck 11 and accessible by using your room key card if you have opted for one of the Grill suites for accommodation.

Grill guests may also enjoy private al fresco dining in the Grills courtyard; or take the sun on the private Grills Upper Terrace on Deck 12. Every aspect of the Cunard dining experience was superb; the variety of food and its preparation, the trademark White Glove Service, and the overall impression that meals are an event to be savoured.

The Todd English Restaurant offers guests a superlative fine dining option for a special occasion – or simply because it’s Tuesday! Cunard has contracted with the world-famous celebrity chef and restauranteur to design and create a menu – initially for the Queen Mary 2, and subsequently for Queen Victoria. With seating for just 87 guests, the intimate restaurant offers outstanding cuisine, service and ambiance.

Everyone at our table ordered something different; and the meals were so delicious that insistent offers to share were gladly accepted. Even with a modest surcharge of $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner, Todd English is so popular that on our 7 day cruise, guests were limited to one visit per cabin in order to satisfy demand.

The Golden Lion Pub offers authentic British pub fare at lunch, with a selection of beer and ale within an equally authentic pub décor and atmosphere. Many of our fellow passengers sailing from Southampton were from England – and The Golden Lion passed the authenticity test with flying colours.

Queen Victoria has several small public rooms and lounges ideal for a before dinner cocktail, a coffee and sweet, or a chance to enjoy the music of a pianist, a string quartet, harpist or jazz trio. The Commodore’s Club, located at the bow and furnished with leather sofas and club chairs makes it a favourite guest destination.

The Royal Arcade onboard shopping area is inspired by the Burlington and Royal Arcades in London; complete with a sweeping staircase joining the Arcade deck with the Casino and Golden Lion Pub below. The seven shops offer a wide variety of quality Cunard merchandise in addition to items from Harrods, Waterford, Royal Doulton, Swarovski, Faberge and Staffordshire – all tax and duty free.

The Winter Garden on Deck 10 is an oasis of tranquility with a retractable glass roof, a moveable glass wall that opens to the mid-ship pool area, a fountain, wooden Venetian blinds and potted palms – all reminiscent of a conservatory from a bygone era. Except there’s nothing ‘bygone’ at all about the casual comfort that we enjoyed, especially during a sunny but ‘fresh’ sea day.

We joined many of our fellow guests to read, doze and then read a few more pages from one of the more than 6,000 books available from the two story mahogany-shelved library. If you want to enjoy the sun without getting windblown – the Winter Garden is the perfect place.

A Cunard voyage offers a huge variety of activities; including a choice of two outdoor pools, (one of which can be closed in with a retractable glass roof), ample upper deck space for sunbathing; sheltered lounge chairs on the promenade deck; a well-equipped fitness centre at the front of the ship; and the Cunard Health Club and Spa offers all the latest procedures and beauty treatments. The hydro-pool and thermal suite were favoured by many guests, especially after a bracing massage. I enjoyed a 45 minute deep tissue sports massage; and after loosening up some back tension, the masseuse described my physical exercise exactly, including the absence of any stretching before of after my activity. Her simple (and economical) remedy was to allow time for stretching. I received a fine massage and straightforward advice to complement my existing regimen.

Queen Victoria is a lovely and elegant ship, staffed by officers and crew that understand and appreciate the expectations of their guests – people who are accustomed to luxury, but with an eye for value.

Travel Planner

Queen Victoria will be sailing in Europe for the remainder of this summer and fall, primarily from her home port of Southampton, with a selection of European and Mediterranean itineraries. (Some of her Mediterranean voyages start in Venice, Civitavecchia, or Barcelona.) She will be heading for the warmer waters of the Caribbean, The Mexican Riviera and transiting the Panama Canal in January, February and March of 2011. Cunard offers excellent pre and post hotel packages available in London, with transfers to Southampton.

For more information about Queen Victoria or the other Cunard ships; Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth (October 2010), please call your travel agent, or visit: www.cunard.com or call toll free: 1-800-728-6273 (1-800-7-CUNARD). Bon Voyage!

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