Thursday, March 13, 2014

Queen Victoria cruise, March 2014

From March 3-5 I embarked on a two night, mini-cruise aboard Cunard's Queen Victoria, departing from my home town/port of Brisbane to Sydney.

Because I only had two nights onboard, I couldn't get as many photos as I normally would, but did the best I can and what I got came up well - Queen Victoria photographs well!

Cunard is five-star all the way and 'plush' is one word that springs to mind. You won't hear 'doof-doof' music on the pool deck, or see any belly-flop contests, and a jacket and trousers are required in many parts of the ship after 6pm. The staff are friendly but also quite reserved - they aren't super, over-the-top bubbly. They are happy to do their job and leave you to enjoy your cruise. There is something very British about the staff's demeanour.

The ship itself looks smart all over, starting with the formal black and white exterior. Moving inside, the interiors are all very tasteful and you get the feeling you are, to a certain degree, stepping back in time. The Cunard clientele is definitely a little older and cruising on Cunard is slightly 'old world' compared to many other cruise lines. How many other cruise lines have 'gentlemen dancers' on hand to waltz or whisk a partner-less lady around the dance floor during the ballroom dancing that occurs every night?

Anyway, enough of the chat. Onto the interesting 'stuff'...


Here's a few that may appear in the blog:

Fore - Near or toward the front of the ship
Aft - Near or toward the rear of the ship
Bow - The very front of the ship
Stern - The very back of the ship
Port - The left of the ship, facing towards the front
Starboard - The right of the ship, facing towards the front
Draft - Depth of water measured from the waterline to the bottom of the ship's hull
Bridge - The 'command centre' in the forward part of the ship
Gangway - The stairway or ramp connecting the ship to the shore

(Top photo - Queen Victoria docked at Circular Quay, Sydney)

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Facts and figures about MS Queen Victoria -

Name: MS Queen Victoria
Class: Vista-class
Tonnage: 90,000 GT
Length: 294m (964.5 ft)
Beam: 32.3m (106ft) waterline, 36.6m (120ft) extreme - bridge wings
Height: 62.5m (205ft) keel to funnel
Draft: 26.2 ft (8.0 m)
Decks: 16 total, 12 passenger
Installed power: 63.4 MW Sulzer ZA40 diesel plant
Propulsion: Two 16.7 MW ABB Azipods
Speed: 23.7 knots (43.9 km/h; 27.3 mph) maximum, service at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)[2]
Capacity: 2,014 passengers
Crew: 900 officers and crew
Port of registry: Hamilton, Bermuda
Cost: approx. AUD$400 million/£270 million (as of March 2013)
Maiden voyage: December 11, 2007

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1) If you intend using your credit card while you are away, tell your credit card provider that you are going overseas, so they don't think your credit card has been compromised and someone on a cruise holiday or in a foreign land has suddenly started making purchases. The last thing you want to deal with when you get home is a cancelled credit card and having to sort out all your direct debits etc when your bank sends you a new one. While it's good that credit card security works this way, it's a hassle you don't need.  

2) Contact your mobile phone provider and have your phone switched to international call roaming. The costs are very high if you do make (and receive) calls but it's a security blanket should you need to use your phone in an emergency. IMPORTANT - turn off data roaming on your phone (or get your provider to do it for you). Even though you may not make calls while you are away, any data that is uploaded or downloaded (emails or app updates, for instance) will be charged at a far more expensive rate.

3) 'Dose up'. Being confined to a ship with several thousand people can be a breeding ground for germs and result in colds/flus (how many of us seem to always get a cold when we fly?). I'd suggest a course of vitamin C and/or echinacea in the lead up to your cruise. While these might not completely stop you from getting a cold/flu, they may help reduce the duration of anything you might get and, thus, give you more time to enjoy your cruise. And, for those of you who have heard of norovirus, there is nothing you can do ahead of time other than get into the habit of practising safe hygiene.

*All prices and information are as of March, 2014 and are in US dollars (except where otherwise noted).


My YouTube video showing Queen Victoria in all her glory can be seen HERE.

The Grand Lobby and staircase - with a relief portrait of the Queen Victoria made by British
sculptor John McKenna - is the focal point, the 'town square', of the ship once you're inside.

The Grand Lobby covers three decks.


The Balcony Stateroom was a good size, as was the balcony and bathroom. The bed was comfy - always a good thing - and the couch was big enough to spread out on. There was ample hanging/storage space, including under the bed (photo in the series below) a safe, mini-bar (prices below, too) and the TV had enough good channels to keep you interested. But, only being a two night cruise and with a ship to explore/photograph/film, I wasn't going to spent too much time in front of 'the box'.

Even better, a bottle of bubbles was on hand upon entering!

Photos tell a thousand words, so here I go...

The Balcony Stateroom with the balcony beyond.

Bubbles - the perfect 'hello'.

The Gilchrist & Soames goodies in the bathroom - LtoR Conditioner, Shampoo, Body Lotion, Shower Gel.

Somewhere to plug in the shaver - switch between 115V & 240V.

Various power outlets in the stateroom.

Not only bubbles, but strawberries dipped in white chocolate as well...go on,
ask me if they were delicious.

Mini-bar prices. 

If you feel like chilling out.

I always get asked about storage space - especially under beds.
I only took an overnight bag, one of which can be seen here under the bed.
As you can see, there is plenty of height and depth for one or more suitcases.
That's a doona/duvet at left, which can be removed if need be.

I found these pics online (above and below, courtesy of Cunard), if you fancy something a tad bigger than a Balcony Stateroom. 

Read more about the staterooms/suites HERE.


You are given your Guest Identification Keycard (GIK) when you check in at the port before boarding (if you've cruised on other lines, you may know your GIK as a Sea Pass, or something similar). Once onboard, your GIK acts as your room key and wallet. Initially it feels odd leaving your room without your wallet and keys but this is something you get used to and begin to wish it was like this 'at home'. Bring a lanyard if you have one, or buy one when you get on board.

I usually get Guest Services (Purser's Desk on Cunard) to punch a hole my GIK so I can attach it to the lanyard and wear it around my neck. This makes life easy when you have to take off your GIK to pay for something. In fact, the lanyard I use has clip on/off ends, to make it even easier. I noticed that the GIK-around-the-neck look wasn't all the rage on Queen Victoria but there were enough people doing it so that I didn't worry about feeling self-conscious. Apart from ease of access, wearing your GIK around your neck works well because they have a habit of falling out of pockets and wallets/purses, especially if you've been frequenting the bars, clubs and lounges!

Whatever you accumulate on your GIK can either be charged to your credit card (card details given when you check in) or paid off with cash (Cunard deal in US dollars). If you choose the cash option, you can keep on topping up your GIK. If you choose to have your GIK linked to a credit card, you can decide to pay it off in cash but must do so the day before disembarkation. Your itemised account is left at your cabin the morning of disembarkation and GIK's linked to credit cards can still be used if need be (very little is open the day you disembark) and charged after you leave the ship.

NOTE - Pre-loaded or ‘prepaid' Visa or debit cards ie: travel money cards (like Cashpassport) can be used to pay for your cruise incidentals at the end of your cruise, however they cannot be used to guarantee your account at check-in. You need a fair dinkum (bona fide) credit card. On a slightly separate note, this applies for hotels also, where a credit card or cash deposit is required at check-in.

ALSO - Your GIK is magnetised, so keep away from mobile phones or other electronic devices.

When it comes to gratuities, it's probably best if Cunard explains it via their gratuities policy which can be seen HERE.

*Usually I'd provide a photo of my GIK but it was taken off me as I disembarked. Not sure why.

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Before I move on, it will pay to read the 'Pre-Voyage Documentation' (PVD) that is sent to you by Cunard! Otherwise you might miss the part about 'informal' nights on your cruise and get a rude shock when you board and read that informal night entail...

"Jacket required, tie optional for gentlemen, cocktail dress, stylish separates or equivalent for ladies. Please note that after 6pm, shorts and blue or worn denim (for men and women); sandals and sleeveless tops (for men) are not considered appropriate within the ship. Any guests wishing to dress more casually are welcome to dine in the Lido buffet...and relax in the Winter Garden, but should not use other areas within the ship, including our Alternative Dining Restaurants, out of respect for fellow guests"

If you don't meet the requirements outlined above you will find yourself being refused (in the nicest possible manner) service in the bars and restaurants.


There are many dining options on Queen Victoria, all of which are included except for The Verandah Restaurant, which has a cover charge.

The four main restaurants (included) onboard Queen Victoria offer menus created by Cunard’s Global Culinary Ambassador, Jean-Marie Zimmermann.

The Britannia Restaurant, located on Decks 2 & 3, is the main dining room for guests staying in Britannia Balcony, Oceanview and Inside Staterooms.

Menus change daily and sample menus can be seen here:




A La Carte

Grilled asparagus, feta cheese, arugula salad, vine ripened tomatoes and basil oil.
Grilled fillet steak, blue cheese potato mousseline, haricots verts, shallots, vintage port wine glaze.
Chocolate marquise, bitter orange coulis.
Bacardi limon creme brulee.

Queens Grill Restaurant is only for guests staying in Queens Grill suites.

Sample menus:

*The Grills are only open to guests staying in Queens and Princess Grill Suites, so I was unable to gain access. However, these photos were found on Flickr.

(Photo courtesy Cunard)

Princess Grill Restaurant is only for guests staying in Princess Grill suites.

Sample menus:




A La Carte

(Photo courtesy Cunard)

If you like your dining al fresco, you can do so in The Grills Courtyard, a Tuscan-inspired space featuring seating for 40 on a first-come, first-served basis.

(Photo courtesy Cunard)

Lido (not called the 'buffet' but that's what it is)

No set menu but each evening you’ll find a selection of dishes devoted to a specific theme such as Italian, Indian, or English.

The second night of the cruise I dined there, arriving just before 7pm, and it was quiet. The following morning, before I disembarked, I dined there again and it was also quiet. This was great in some ways - no queuing, able to get a table right next to the window - and I don't know if I just happened to time my run so that this was the case but I also surmised that Cunard appeared to be more of a 'restaurant' ship than a buffet ship.

This was somewhat reinforced by the selection on offer, which wasn't the biggest I've come across, but, having said that, everything I ate was fresh and delicious - the calzone (closed pizza), made freshly for me at the pizza station, was seriously good (although you can't have pizza by the slice - has to be a whole pizza).

The Lido is one large area but the actual buffet was split into two, and some parts of the buffet in one of these areas also seemed to be closed every time we were there. Once again, I'm not sure if this was a case of timing on my part.

The Verandah

The Verandah is not included in your fare and there is a $24 cover charge. Despite the non-French name, the cuisine is just that - French - and it's lovely; in fact, it's better than 'lovely' and well worth the $24.

The sample menu is linked to below but, before I get there, here is what I had for dinner -

Entrées (starters)

Tarte Alsacienne à l’oignon et fromage de chèvre, salade d’endives, vinaigrette à l’échalote, espuma de tomates (Baked Onion and Goats Cheese Tart, Endive Salad, Tomato Fondue, Shallot and Red Wine Vinaigrette)

Plats Principaux (main courses)

Plancha de Saint-Jacques et lotte mijotées au beurre noisette, raviolis épinard-parmesan, crème au lard fumé (Monkfish and Scallops in Brown Butter, Spinach and Parmesan Ravioli, Smoked Bacon Velouté)


Lingot de chocolat Amer Royal, Sorbet à L’orange (Bitter Chocolate Slab, Orange Sorbet)

Plancha de Saint-Jacques et lotte mijotées au beurre noisette, raviolis épinard-parmesan, crème au lard fumé (Monkfish and Scallops in Brown Butter, Spinach and Parmesan Ravioli, Smoked Bacon Velouté)

The verdict? One of the best meals I've had in a restaurant on any of the ships I've been on. French food has a reputation for being saucy (not 'that' saucy!) and heavy but everything about the meal was fresh and flavoursome. Do yourself a favour and splash out the $24.

A sample menu for the Verandah (which is the same menu I had) can be seen HERE.

***Follow me on SOCIAL MEDIA for more fun, interesting cruise news and information.


Drinks prices appeared to be consistent across the ship and below are a guide to price ranges you can expect to pay. I've tried, in as many cases as possible, to give one example of what your $$$ will get you. There is a wide selection of beer, cocktails etc between the price ranges given. For example, there are over 50 types of cocktails/martinis in that $6.25 & $15.95 range. Trust me, you won't go thirsty.

Beer: $4.75 (Carlsberg 330ml) - $5.95 (Guinness 500ml)
Cocktail: $6.25 (Tequila Sunrise) - $15.95 (Champagne Cocktail)
Spirits (mixer included): $6.25 (rum) - $11.95 (tequila) and gin included here.
Whisky/Bourbon: $6.25 (Jim Beam) - $26 (Glenmorangie 25yo)
*All but two whisky/bourbon prices were under $10.
Aperitifs and Digestifs: $6.25 (port) - $125 (Remy Martin, Louis XIII)
*Likewise, all but five were under $10.
Wine - the wine list, which mainly shows the price per bottle, can be seen HERE. I was unable to find a definitive menu for 'by the glass' but, using the room service menu as a guide (glasses came in two sizes) - 150ml (5 oz) & 250ml (8.5 oz) and varied in price from $7.95 (150ml) to $15.50 (250ml).

A full list of bar/lounge drinks prices can be seen HERE.

Drinks Packages

There are limited drinks packages, which Cunard explain best on their website HERE

Alcohol is one area where ships make their $$$ and there are many bars and lounges throughout Queen Victoria where you can get a drink. Some of these include...

Golden Lion Pub

An English pub that, as well as a selection of amber delights (and other drinks), serves favourites such as cottage pie and fish and chips. It's the biggest English pub I've come across on the high seas and there's a good selection of draught and bottled beers. The 'Boddies' (Boddingtons) was especially good.

Golden Lion drinks prices can be seen HERE.

The Golden Lion also does a great lunch (included in your fare). The menu is very small but it's your typical pub food, or 'pub grub' as we say in the Antipodes. A photo of the menu is below...

Commodore Club

Spend the evening listening to music from the resident pianist as you try a wide selection of Martinis. You may even be tempted to try their martini mixology or whisky tasting classes.

Commodore Club drinks menu can be seen HERE.

(Photo courtesy Cunard)

The Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar

I didn't drink there but it looked quite spectacular.

See more of the bars & lounges on offer HERE.


There is also a 'coffee shop' on board, where you can buy 'real' coffee (and indulge in a pastry, perhaps?). The coffee (and pastry) menu can be seen HERE.

ROYAL SPA (and fitness centre)

(Photo courtesy of Cunard)

Deck 9 is the place to head for if you want to work out or get some good old-fashioned pampering.

I couldn't find a price list anywhere but a full list of what is on offer can be seen HERE.

One too many pastries for breakfast? Then this is for you!

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Photos of celebrities from yesteryear who performed and sailed on Cunard ships can be found all around Queen Victoria - Bing Crosby and Bob Hope (below).

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Queen Victoria has two pools, one the Pavillion (main) pool and the other the Lido pool, located at the stern of the ship. As well as the pools, there are other outdoor activities 'up top', including the old cruise favourite - shuffleboard.

 The Pavillion (main) pool.

Pancake races on the Pool Deck to commemorate Shrove Tuesday. 

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If you like the photography in my blogs, it's because I am a professional photographer. My photos don't merely show something, they tell a story. And visual stories i.e. photos, are more interesting than pictures that merely show something. 

If you'd like to know how to turn your images into visual stories, I've published a book that takes a whole new slant on photography and 'translates' the art of taking photos into a language we all understand.

To read more about my book and see some of its 100+ visual examples, please click HERE.

***I use all the tips and hints from my book in every photo I take, including those in Travel With Giulio.

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Tennis anyone? Half-court available if you fancy a hit. 

The Lido Pool at the stern of the ship. 

 If you fancy a challenge, and it's not too windy, then the giant chess board could be for you. 

The Winter Garden, located on the Pool Deck between the pool and Lido buffet.
There is a bar there, you're close to the buffet and you can catch a few rays minus the wind.
The glass roof retracts, although it didn't while I was onboard.


Like any cruise ship, there are always plenty of different things on offer to keep you amused and entertained, from early in the morning to late into the evening. I got to see and sample a few of these things...

The Queen's Room is spectacular and used for such things as line dancing classes during the day...

And ballroom dancing during the evening.
Cunard even has its own 'gentlemen dancers' who are there to act as partners for any ladies keen to do 
the foxtrot or have a waltz. Several of the gents in the dark jackets are the gentlemen in question.

Each day at 3pm, the Queen's Room plays host to Afternoon Tea (included in fare). 
This is a well-attended affair, with tea, finger sandwiches and cakes served by white-gloved attentive staff,
all done elegantly with a string quartet playing in the background.

If you're not waltzing the night away in the Queen's Room, Hemisphere offers dancing of another
sort - perhaps even an ABBA revival night like this one!

The Royal Court Theatre plays host to several events throughout the day and night,
including guest lectures, movies and the nightly theatre production.

 The Library, above and below, has over 6,000 titles and is magnificent.
Speaking of reading, will you be looking for a good book to read on your next cruise? If so, then how about one - or more - of my three books? Have a look and see which you might like.

If reading isn't your thing, then the Empire Casino could be for you, with pokies (slot machines)
and a good assortment of tables.

Art on display and available to purchase, with works by the likes of Dali and Picasso,
as well as more recent artists such as Martiros and Bill Mack.
There's even a Harrods.

Part of the shopping precinct.

Relaxing on the Promenade Deck (Deck 3) can be entertaining.


Normally I pack as little as possible when I go on a cruise. Cunard's dress regulations make this a little bit harder than usual and, if you're setting off on something longer than a 2-night cruise, you will need at least one suit, as well as a tuxedo. Less is more? Not likely.

One thing some of you will like to know is that, as well as an onboard laundry service, there is a guest laundry on each of the accommodation decks. There is some good news and some slightly bad news regards the guest laundry. Before I get to that, a photo of one guest laundry...

The good news is that Cunard provides the guest laundry free of charge, including irons, ironing boards and soap. The slightly bad news is that, as you can see, the laundry isn't big and the three washers, three dryers, one ironing board and iron, have to provide for one accommodation deck. Admittedly, not everyone is going to head for the guest laundry but it still equates to quite a few people wanting to use it - especially as the dinner rush nears. Your best bet is to get in early!

If you prefer taking a break from laundry/ironing when you're on holiday, then you can use the onboard laundry/ironing/dry cleaning service. This you have to pay for. I'm sure more than one guest has taken a look at the guest laundry, or tried using it during rush hour, and decided to hang the expense and go with the onboard laundry service.

I didn't have time to try out either service, although I got in early the first afternoon and ironed my trousers and shirts. I went back another time (can't remember why) during rush hour and it was a bit tight for room.

Below are the price lists for the (top) dry cleaning service and the (bottom) laundry service...

*I'm just going to jump in here and ask/suggest a couple of things...

Firstly, if this post has inspired you to book a cruise on Queen Victoria, can you send me a quick email and let us know - - so I can tell Cunard what a great job I do promoting their cruises.

Secondly, if you want to book a cruise on Queen Victoria, you can do so via 'Looking to book a cruise?' at the top right of this post. These posts take around 100 hours to produce and I don't get paid to do them, so making a booking through my blog ensures I get a little something back.


Yes, there is a Purser's Office (reception), which never appeared too busy the entire time I was aboard, and the times I did have to go there, the service was as you'd expect - very good. There is also a tour desk and a future cruises deck where, as the name suggests, you can book another Cunard cruise because you're having the time of your life.

Scattered around each deck are 'You Are Here' type maps of the ship. These always come in handy, especially when you get onto the accommodation decks and you don't know port from starboard and fore from aft. There are very few announcements (no announcements are made on disembarkation day, other than in your assembly area).

Each night the Daily Programme is delivered to your stateroom/suite. This has all of the following day's activities highlighted and outlined in chronological order. The following photos will do a better job of explaining...

Sometimes there is an insert...

Internet is available throughout the ship via WiFi and there is also an internet cafe. If you're a first time cruiser, think 'dial up' rather than broadband when it comes to internet connection, as the signal has to find its way 35,000km (22,000 miles) up to a satellite and then back down. Be're on holiday :)

Internet prices are the same, whether it be WiFi or internet cafe -

Pay As You Go - 75c/minute
120 minutes - $47.95 (40c/minute)
120 minutes - $89.95 (38c/minute)
120 minutes - $167.95 (35c/minute)

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I ventured up to Deck 10 and the Play Zone and The Zone but was told I couldn't take photos, even though there were no children there. The staff there were lovely about it but 'no photos', which is a shame as the areas looked great! I looked online and there were some photos of the Play Zone and The Zone from other Cunard ships but they didn't mirror what I saw, so there was no point using them.

There were very few children on the cruise and I actually went to Deck 10 at a time when it was open to children/youths but there were none there (let me explain - I went there when Play Zone was open to make sure I could come back at a time when no children were there). Like I said earlier, the Cunard clientele is slightly older. But don't let that stop you cruising with the younger members of your family - the facilities are seriously good. The Play Zone (2-7yo) had all sorts of games and activities and a large tree in the middle of the room that had a big smile in its tree face. The Zone (8-18yo) had a computer/TV area, chill out area and mini-disco, as well as things such as table air hockey. 

Children under 12 need to be signed in and out by a parent/guardian, while the parents can decide what to do for children older than 12. Children under two can join in but parents have to be present and there is a night nursery for infants under 1yo.

I've answered some questions here but the Cunard website has many FAQs regards the children's facilities and can be seen HERE.

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Queen Victoria has its own team of photographers to capture you and your cruise. There is a photo gallery onboard where you can look at, and purchase, the photos taken of you. The photo galleries are always secretive about handing out prices and I observed several as I strolled through the photo gallery:

$24.95 - one 10x8 inch (25x20cm) print
$149.95 - six 10x8 inch (25x20cm) prints
$249.95 - twelve 10x8 inch (25x20cm) prints
$349.95 - twenty four 10x8 inch (25x20cm) prints
$399.95 - All images burnt to CD
$399.95 - All images reproduced as prints
$474.95 - All images burnt to CD AND reproduced as prints

You can have professional portraits taken while onboard and, if you feel like going all out, you can even have your own personal photographer who will walk you around the ship with you and capture 'unique opportunities to have portraits taken in location otherwise not available within a standard operation'.

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I hope you enjoyed my brief cruise on Queen Victoria. If you have any comments or queries, please email me at

Bon voyage!


See and read about more of my cruise experiences/reviews.

Love photos of cruise ships? Have a look at my 'Ship Spotting' photo gallery.

If you like what you have seen here, follow me on SOCIAL MEDIA for more fun, interesting cruise news and information.

All photos and text by Giulio Saggin (unless otherwise stated)
© Use of text and photos must be via written permission


John Harlow said...

Well done comprehensive as usual. I almost sailed on the Queen Mary (7 nights)about this this time but after reading the dress code I thought it was a little too 'stuffy' for me.

Barry said...

So in depth - thankyou! I've been on two cruises and would love to do another one the choice of activities on a cruise is always really important and this one looks pretty amazing!