Fresh out of the shipyard following a £34m refit in spring 2017, Cunard’s Queen Victoria is looking stunning, sporting redesigned staterooms and suites, a beautiful new restaurant, new bars and a vast expanse of enlarged teak deck. Yet the ship retains a real traditional elegance with a plush Victoriana theme throughout – glittering chandeliers, a dramatic, three-deck atrium with sweeping staircases and a grand theatre swagged in red velvet, complete with private boxes.

Choose Queen Victoria if you like the idea of the golden age of cruising, evoked in the dainty afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters, black tie dinners, ballroom dancing and shuffleboard on deck. This isn’t to say the ship is stuffy in any way. She has contemporary features, too, not least a luxurious spa, a bar with the coolest gin menu at sea and a cosy pub, the Golden Lion, famed for its riotous pub quizzes and karaoke nights.

Where to sleep

Elegant interior of an Ocean View stateroom on-board Cunard's Queen Victoria cruise ship

Ocean View stateroom

Luxurious marble bathroom with a bath tub and shower on-board Cunard Queen Victoria

Suite bathroom

As with the other two Cunard Queens, the cabin grade you book determines where you eat every day. Cabins range from Inside, through the standard Britannia grades with or without balcony, to the very posh Princess and Queens Grills. Queens Grill, the top grade, has some of the most lavishly appointed accommodation at sea.

New in the refit were 43 highly covetable Britannia Club cabins with gorgeous navy blue and gold décor, private balconies and their own restaurant, the Britannia Club. All cabins, though, received new flat screen TVs and tea and coffee making facilities, something regular guests had long campaigned for.

The redesigned Grand and Penthouse Suites are spectacular, retaining a really traditional feel but reminiscent, perhaps, of a chic private apartment, all gleaming wood, chandeliers and smart, geometric carpet designs. The top suites have stunning black marble bathrooms with a window and vast, wraparound balconies.

Where to eat

Elaborate entrance to the Britannia restaurant on-board Cunard Queen Victoria

Britannia restaurant

Gourmet sandwiches and a glass of champagne in afternoon tea on-board Cunard Queen Victoria

Passengers in Britannia class cabins dine in the elegant, two-deck Britannia restaurant, which has two sittings for dinner and assigned tables. On formal nights there is a real sense of occasion in here. Or there is the buffet in the casual Lido, or the popular Golden Lion pub, which does a fine line in fish and chips and ploughman’s. I absolutely love the new Britannia Club restaurant on Deck 2 – with dark blue, gold and grey tones, glass panels separating some of the tables and an art deco feel.

The top cabin grades dine in the very smart Princess Grill and Queens Grill, with a much broader menu and, in Queens Grill, dishes like Chateaubriand or Crepes Suzette, made by your table, on tap. These two Grills share a pretty outside space, the Grills Courtyard, perfect for dinner al fresco on a balmy night.

Elegant table next to a picturesque window in the Grills restaurant on-board Queen Victoria

Grills restaurant

Bottle of Cunard's own brand Three Queen's gin on a bar next to a copper decanter

Cunard’s 3 Queens gin

Queen Victoria also boasts a formal French restaurant, The Verandah, on Deck 2, with a hefty cover charge of $49.95. Go if you like elaborate, high-class French cuisine but bear in mind there is little here for vegetarians.

You can also pay extra for themed nights in the Lido, which has a bistro-style area roped off every night. Themes include South American, steakhouse, Indian and Asian fusion and it costs $17.50. We are more excited, though, about the new outdoor dining on the extended Lido deck, where a three-course Mediterranean-themed menu will be served by the pool on warm nights.

Afternoon tea is a big event on Queen Victoria, served in the Queens Room (the ship’s elegant ballroom): all white-gloved waiters, finger sandwiches and dainty cakes. And scones with cream, of course.

What to do

Luxurious mosaic loungers in front of floor to ceiling windows in Queen Victoria's spa

People relaxing in the stunning winter garden area on-board Queen Victoria at sunset

Winter Garden

There is music and entertainment all over the ship, from ballroom dancing classes to bridge or watercolour painting and pub quizzes. The Winter Garden on Deck Nine, refreshed in the refit and reminiscent of an airy, bright conservatory (it is themed after Kew Gardens), is a great place to relax on a cooler day, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass screen opening to the Pavilion Pool. Our favourite outdoor spot is the renovated Lido Pool, aft on the same deck, surrounded by comfy new sunloungers and double cabanas with dreamy views over the ship’s wake.

The stunning Yacht Club bar on-board Cunard Queen Victoria

Yacht Club

After dark, we love the new Midships Bar with more than 40 gins on the menu, and the intimate Commodore Club on Deck 10, a popular spot on all three Cunard Queens with cocktails, live music, nautical décor and plush leather sofas.

What I loved

Stunning Royal Court theatre space on-board Cunard's Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria has one of the most beautiful libraries at sea. Spanning two decks connected by a wood-effect spiral staircase, it is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. I love the theatre, too, which has a real sense of grandeur with its red velvet curtains and 16 private boxes. One of these will cost you $55 for two but include a glass of champagne, canapes and chocolates, while a uniformed bellboy to escort you to your seat gives the whole thing a sense of occasion.

What I didn’t

You might have thought that £34m could cover a few shower screens but no; all but the top cabins still have clingy curtains and the bathrooms in the lowest grades are small and poky. Watch out for the extras, too; despite its Britishness, Queen Victoria uses the American tipping system on-board, so every drink has a 15 per cent service charge attached.

Would you like to experience the classic style and traditional luxury of Cunard’s refurbished Queen Victoria cruise ship for yourself? Click the button below to browse our stunning Queen Victoria itineraries, and call our Cruise Concierge team on 0207 980 2847 to book your perfect getaway.

Sue Bryant
Sue Bryant is an award-winning writer specialising in cruising. She is cruise editor of The Sunday Times and also writes for magazines and websites worldwide. She has written and contributed to several travel guidebooks, including the Insight Guide to Great River Cruises and the Insight Guide to Caribbean Cruising. In 2016, Sue was awarded the coveted ‘Contribution to Cruise Journalism’ award by CLIA for her coverage of the industry. She lives in west London with her teenage children and two dogs.

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