Queen Victoria makes triumphant debut
Ship Review by Michael Coleman, March 2008
The worlds most discerning travelers have a grand new ship to call home.
Queen Victoria is just three months old but has already taken the cruise industry by storm.
Whether guests are enjoying tea in the Queens Room, sipping vintage champagne in the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar or dining in the Art Deco-inspired elegance of the Britannia Restaurant, Cunard’s singular grasp on tradition and innovation is captured in Queen Victoria’s richly detailed dining and cocktail venues.
“Aboard Queen Victoria, we are carrying on the grand Cunard tradition of cocktails and dining as a much-anticipated event,” said Cunard Line president Carol Marlow. As our guests move through their day, they will have a wide array of culinary and cocktail venue choices, ranging from the Commodore Club, the Golden Lion Pub and the Queens Room to favorites like the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar and Todd English.”
Whichever dining/cocktail venue suits ones fancy, as is the case aboard Cunards other Queens Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 guests will enjoy an unparalleled shipboard experience defined by sumptuous surroundings, fine dining and the lines renowned White Star Service.
Cunard’s formal ballroom, the Queens Room is the setting for one of the line’s most civilized customs: traditional afternoon tea served by white-gloved waiters. A variety of musicians, including a harpist and string quartet, will perform in the Queens Room on a rotating basis. Reminiscent of a grand ballroom in a large country house, the dramatic double-height space features gleaming crystal chandeliers and specially commissioned murals and intricate leaded glass by British artists.
A 1920’s Art Deco atmosphere fills the champagne bar overlooking the Grand Lobby. An elegant space sparkling with golden glass elements, the bar serves Veuve Clicquot Champagne exclusively, alongside a selection of premium hors d’oeuvres such as smoked salmon and smoked Barbarie duck. The bar’s design elements in shades of gold, brown and blue form a subtle backdrop for sandblasted art deco glass “showcase” panels with inset boxes featuring a variety of champagnes.
For those who appreciate British customs and Old World rituals, the Golden Lion Pub and Churchill’s Cigar Lounge represent the epitome of tradition. The 116-seat Golden Lion Pub replicates a traditional English pub right down to its tabletop blackboard menus advertising the day’s pub fare, including fish and chips and Shepherd’s Pie. Guests enjoy a wide selection of ales and can keep current on the latest news and sports on plasma screen televisions in Cunard’s signature pub. A quiet colonial ambiance defines the 11-seat Churchill’s, a wood-paneled cigar lounge adjacent to the Commodore Club on Deck 10 where a vast selection of cigars and an array of Armagnac, Cognac, Port, Madeira and Scotch set a refined and elegant tone.
Featuring sweeping views over the ship’s bow, the Commodore Club captures the essence of Old World liner elegance. Showcasing murals of past Cunard liners in custom porthole displays, as well as two intricate ship models at the entrance, the room’s nautical atmosphere is further highlighted by wood inlaid flooring with a compass design. Cozy gathering areas with leather sofas and club chairs encourage guests to become intimate with the club’s extensive martini menu. Cunard’s customary attention to detail is evident in even the smallest but essential points, including martinis shaken tableside and served with a selection of stuffed olives. Hot and cold canapes are served while live music plays in the background from late afternoon through early evening, making the club an ideal retreat for cocktails with an ocean view.
A nautical atmosphere also infuses the Chart Room on deck two. This cozy room features sand-blasted maps with sea views, glass vitrines displaying ship models and maritime artifacts, and perhaps the most dramatic element of all: two striking oil painting portraits by noted maritime artist Robert Lloyd of the iconic Britannia (first Cunard ship) and Servia (first steel Cunard ship). A Cunard tradition, the Chart Room offers a full bar menu and extensive selection of single malt and blended scotch. Live piano music and jazz sessions on selected evenings make it a lively choice for maritime buffs.
Named for a former Cunard ship, Cafe Carinthia mirrors the style and sophistication of a traditional French patisserie. An elegant space highlighted by Art Deco elements in shades of gold, blue and rich bronze, the cafe is poised to be a guest favorite from early morning until well past sun down. Fresh baked croissants, Danish, muffins and a wide selection of coffees (including cappuccinos, espressos and lattes) and premium Wedgwood teas are served. At lunchtime, the cafe is an ideal spot for freshly prepared sandwiches and late afternoon sugar cravings are satisfied with one of the cafe’s tortes and gateaux.
The ship’s largest dining venue, the Britannia Restaurant is a strikingly elegant space featuring a soaring double-height ceiling offset by cornices and intimate groupings of tables that belie the room’s magnificent size. Inspired by the dining car of the famed Golden Arrow that linked London to Paris, the restaurant’s Art Deco design influences are captured in its original artwork, wall sconces and a combination of authentic finishes that include polished wood, bronze mirror and gold leaf. The room’s focal point – a visually arresting illuminated world globe – stands 10 feet tall, a sizable yet subtle reference to Cunard’s rich history plying the world’s oceans.
Located on decks two and three, Britannias extensive menu is offered during two fixed-seating dinners, as well as breakfast and lunch. Dedicated sommeliers present full wine lists and bar service and a string quartet or harpist performs during each first hour of dining. The room’s upper and lower levels accommodate 878 guests.
Building on the success of the Todd English Restaurant aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria also boasts one of the celebrated chef’s eponymous restaurants. An intimate and stylish alternative to guests’ primary experience in one of the ship’s main dining rooms, Todd English affords Queen Victoria guests an opportunity to experience the cuisine of one of America’s leading chefs in a setting of refined elegance. Waterford crystal, Wedgwood china, Gainsborough silverware and Hepp cutlery add the finishing touches to what will be one of the ship’s most sought-after fine dining experiences.
The restaurant will serve the renowned celebrity chef’s signature nouveau Mediterranean cuisine including such popular dishes as lobster and corn chowder, ricotta gnocchi and seared sea bass. A full bar and wine service by dedicated sommeliers is offered. Seating 87, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner at a nominal surcharge – $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner, per person.
The ship’s innovation and tradition come together in the Lido Cafe, a casual, bright and airy eatery reminiscent of the iconic QE2. Set against a backdrop of vintage black and white Cunard imagery, the decor creates a sophisticated setting for guests to enjoy a wide selection of buffet stations for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evening, the Cafe elevates the daytime Lido dining experience with the introduction of two bistro-style dining venues with reserved seating that will transform areas of the cafe into authentic dining from around the world. Depending on voyage length, these experiential culinary journeys will include fondues from around the world.
Nowhere is Cunard’s preeminence more evident than in the storied Queens Grill and Princess Grill, the pair of exclusive dining rooms and their corresponding Grill-category accommodations. Located on deck 11, the Grills share the concierge-staffed Grills Lounge, as well as the Grills courtyard for al fresco dining and afternoon tea and exclusive Grills Upper Terrace (on Deck 12). Accessed only by private elevator with key card, the Grills offer single-seating dining that rival some of the finest restaurants in the world.
The Grills’ more secluded location and luxuries afford more privacy to the lines most privileged guests.
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