When she entered service in December 2007, the 90,000gt QUEEN VICTORIA was a striking blend of modern cruise ship design, and traditional Cunard ambiance.
Sporting an art deco interior with hints of art nouveau and Victorian influences, QUEEN VICTORIA introduced a number of firsts for the venerable Cunard Line; none the least being her status as Cunard’s first full time cruise ship to carry the name ‘Queen’.
Other firsts were found in the Royal Court Theatre. This space was a dramatic improvement of the same lounge aboard QUEEN MARY 2, and came with box seating – the first of their kind at sea at the time.
A full size Queens Room Ballroom was built aboard the ship; and was one of the reasons why the originally intended QUEEN VICTORIA ended up sailing as ARCADIA, as her design had no space for a Queens Room.
QUEEN VICTORIA’s large Lido Restaurant was sandwiched between two casual deck areas; both sporting swimming pools; creating an indoor / outdoor dining area, meaning she was well designed for her primary warm-climate cruising role.
Traditionalists were happy to find a multi-storey Britannia Restaurant as well as two Grill Restaurants which provide high quality dining for those wanting to experience the formality of a Cunard voyage.
But as QUEEN VICTORIA approached her 10th birthday she was in need of a facelift.
Improvements introduced aboard the QUEEN ELIZABETH (2010); including a Britannia Club Restaurant; as well as work done to QM2 in her 2016 ‘remastering’ led to a significant program of works for QUEEN VICTORIA being developed.
After a month of work at Fincantieri, the ship emerged refreshed and reviatlised, arriving in Southampton on 3 June. The following day, she embarked passengers and set sail on her first post-refit voyage.
Despite poor weather (which saw QUEEN VICTORIA miss the port of Zeebrugge and remain alongside in Amsterdam for two nights), the trip gave passengers a great opportunity to explore the refreshed ship.
Probably the first change guests will notice are the updated cabins. In fact, every cabin aboard has been refreshed – from the grandest suite to the smallest inside room.
Bold new carpeting includes a solid blue section near the door that splits into an interesting ‘bow tie’ design. It creates a greater sense of depth in the room; making the smaller cabins seem much bigger.
Large flat-panel smart TV’s have been added to the wall facing the bed; while tea and coffee making facilities have been added. A richer décor has been introduced in all rooms, with white bed linen accented by deep blue (or red in some rooms) bed spreads. There are two Cunard-branded pillows on the bed; while chairs and couches have been cleaned and in some cases recovered.
The most notable changes to accommodation come thanks to a new block of cabins added to the aft decks of QUEEN VICTORIA. This work included the removal of the original Grand Suites; with four new suites added to the ship.
The new Grand Suites include a large living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and separate powder room, a TV room and a balcony; and come with a butler service.
The décor is completed in a dark-wood finish, and are flooded in natural light thanks to the large windows on two sides of each suite. Rich carpeting and a stylish chandelier finish the space.
Walk around the ship’s public rooms and regular travellers will easily notice the changes made. The new spaces are bold and use nautical colours that present a more modern take on Art Deco than the original more traditional spaces.
The original Chartroom on Deck 3 is gone. In its place is a new Britannia Club Restaurant. This restaurant is completed in a theme similar to that of the new suites; with dark woods, textured carpets and lots of natural light during the day.
At night, newly installed chandeliers illuminate the room; assisted by mirrored walls to maintain the bright and vibrant atmosphere.
A new Chartroom has been built forward of the Britannia Club replacing the former Café Carinthia and Champagne Bar. It largely resembles the original room layouts but sports new furniture, new lighting and an improved drinks menu.
A nice addition is espresso coffee available throughout the day and night. This is also available in the upgraded and refreshed Winter Garden which attracted many guests during the day.
Another change saw the Hemisphere’s nightclub reworked into The Yacht Club; a name first given to QE2’s nightclub and already used aboard QUEEN ELIZABETH (2010). New art-deco gold dividers, blue and green furniture and a revitalised carpet that make the room feel fresh and welcoming.
The new, brighter look helps boost The Yacht Club’s appeal as a daytime lounge, which is supported by an improved bar service available earlier in the day.
Many of the on-deck areas were treated to an update. The Lido Pool received the most attention with the addition of shade sails, new deck chairs, lounge chairs and cabanas.
Both the Lido and Pavilion Pools have been re-tiled in a darker blue theme with a tiled ocean-wave-pattern woven into the overall design; while new seating also surrounds the Pavilion Pool amidships.
Other changes to the ship are more subtle, and include the reorganisation of the Clarendon Art Gallery and the redecoration of the nearby Royal Arcade Shops.
This, in addition to reupholstered chairs throughout and recarpeting of areas that needed it, as well as a general tidy up throughout the ship means QUEEN VICTORIA is ready to face the future with renewed style.
Chris Frame travelled aboard QUEEN VICTORIA as a guest maritime lecturer. While aboard, he photographed the ship for an updated version of his popular book QUEEN VICTORIA: A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY.
First sailing on the QE2 as an 11 year old boy, Chris Frame has been fascinated by passenger ships for most of his life. Author of over a dozen maritime books, Chris is considered an expert on Cunard Line, P&O and the evolution of the passenger ship. He is a frequent guest speaker aboard cruise ships and at maritime museums worldwide and has appeared on various television news, documentaries and radio shows including BBC's Heir Hunters, Inside and Out, Sky News and Conversations with Richard Fidler.