When I booked the maiden voyage of Queen Victoria more than four years ago, I didn't know what the length of the voyage would be or the ports that would be visited. (I also didn't know how much it would cost.) Cunard chose to showcase its new ship with a Christmas markets cruise, visiting northern capitals before the holiday.
Our departure from Oslo was magic. The fortress and castle that dominate the seafront were illuminated, as was the twin-towered City Hall. Along the quay, oil lanterns had been lit every so many yards, and a few brave souls bore flaming torches. While the ship departed quietly with very few on-lookers on shore, we left behind a Christmas card scene of flickering winter lights.
Yesterday, walking along the balcony that rings the Queens Room, I heard the unmistakable sound of swordplay. Surely enough, below me were two dozen fencers wearing protective padding and masks, wielding foils. While Queen Victoria has a number of sweeping staircases suitable for rescue attempts of the Prisoner of Zenda, I had no idea the line was training passengers for such a cause! Indeed, Queen Victoria is the first ship at sea to offer fencing lessons.
Since boarding in Southampton, I have heard scuttlebutt (shipboard gossip) to the effect that the Germans would pull out all stops and our reception in Hamburg would be enthusiastic. As the maiden voyage has progressed and our presence in three ports has been low key, to say the least, anticipation for our port call in Hamburg has only built among us passengers. And the Germans did not disappoint.
>snip< To final paragraph.
Would I sail on Queen Victoria again? Yes, and I would look forward to doing so, but she is not a replacement for the QE2 in purpose or speed. Still, I think this ship is the most attractive ship of her size afloat. The décor and attention to detail are remarkable. She is comfortable and offers lots of public space. If only Queen Victoria were the ocean liner that Cunard insists it is.
luxury liner launched by the Duchess of Cornwall has been hit by a potentially fatal stomach bug, which has struck down nearly 80 passengers.
When Cunard's £300million MS Queen Victoria was officially launched by Camilla in Southampton three weeks ago, the bottle of champagne failed to smash against the bow, prompting superstitious speculation that the ship was cursed.
Now, 78 passengers have been confined to their cabins after being hit with Norovirus, the "winter sickness bug", which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
Last night, passengers - who include former Formula 1 motor-racing champion Sir Jackie Stewart - dubbed the Canary Islands trip the "cruise from hell" after complaining about poor room service, blocked toilets, a lack of Christmas decorations, cold food and extra charges for tea and coffee.