September 25, 2010
Queen Victoria Mediterranean cruises Sept 25-October 7 Rome to Venice.
Pre-cruising. We left NYC JFK on Sept 23rd, 2010 by Air France to Paris and got our connecting flight to Rome. At Rome we stayed 2 blocks from Vatican a nice little hotel Quality Inn Nova Domas. Most of the lands tour company like Globus and Grand Circle Tours choose this 4 star hotel due to its proximity to Vatican.
After some rest and a shower, we walked to Vatican city and saw St. Peter's Square and Basilica of St. Peter designed built by Michelangelo from where the Pope bless his audience during religious holidays. Fortunately being Friday, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel were opened, hardly any crowd. We were able to see the most important exhibits in 2 hr time and by 10 PM we reached our room.
Saturday 25th morning we woke up and took a shower, had delicious Italian hot and cold breakfast including freshly squeezed blood orange juice, Danishes, breads, cheese for our breakfast. The Roma Limo driver met us at the hotel, for our drive to Civitavecchia, Port. We also had 2 hr tour booked through them. He took us Pantheon, a "Temple for all Gods built in 1st Century AD probably by Emperor Hadrian. Afterwards the Limo took us around Piazza Navona with the Fontana del More. Our driver also stopped at the Roman Coliseum, the greatest amphitheater was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in SD 72 where Gladiators combated deadly wild animal fights. The coliseum could hold up to 55,000 people and were seated according their ranks. After that visit we drove to the Port of Civitavecchia, to board our ship Queen Victoria. She was docked majestically next to Queen Mary 2 a sight to see.
Having not cruised the Mediterranean for the past 15 years, this cruise and the Queen Victoria re-awakened our longing to cruise this region. The first glimpse of this magnificent vessel is quite overwhelming, for she is truly most beautiful, traditional smaller sister of colossal big sister Queen Mary 2. QV to some extend reminded me the Vista class ships of Holland America's Amsterdam, Euro Dam. We also saw the brand new HAL Niue-Amsterdam (another name NYC) docked in front of QV in Istanbul and in Venice.
Embarkation was a breeze with minimal fuss, and we were soon in a delightful, with our elegant, comfortable A-1 balcony cabin where a chilled bottle of bubbly welcomed us (being a teetotaler Sharon had the fun off consuming the Champaign in 2 days), and while we looked in the ample storage spaces and compact bathroom with its good toiletries and soft robes, our luggage was swiftly delivered. I was informed the extra closets under bed and shelf in the bathrooms were added as afterthought.
During its maiden voyage the Queen Victoria received some of the appalling criticism due to lack of space, poor service, we were hesitant to book and sail on her. When we boarded the ship we realized what a beautiful ship she is with dark paneled woods everywhere. Unlike QM-2 she is user friendly. All the public rooms like dinning, library (2 floors with winding stair case, 6000 books), Royal Theater, Queens' ball room, Royal Arcades are located in Deck 1-3 and are easy to locate. The Lido restaurant ,the Pools, Spas, Gym facility, Winter Garden are located on Deck All the Bars and lounges are also located within reach of each other. The public rooms and rest rooms are spotlessly clean.
Dining Experience. We ate at the Britannia dining room, our head waiter Mr. D' Sousa was from Goa, India. I informed him that I am a universal Vegetarian but preferred Indian food over certain other Vegetarian food like Turkish Cuss-Cuss or Hungarian vegetable Goulash. He was very happy to fulfill my needs. He also made reservation for an Elegant Indian Night at Lido white glove service. The whole ambiance is Indian with fresh herbs imported from India, the waiters were dressed in Indian clothes, food were served on Indian (Katoris) serving dishes. We ate there on October 3rd, our wedding anniversary. We had a table for 4, our table mates are remarkable couple from Wollongong, Australia just outside of Sydney.
Dinner and the Waiters service in The Britannia (upper tier - table for 4) across the 12 day period were simply outstanding. The vegetarian choice was excellent across all courses. Also we enjoyed the fact that although its "open seating" for lunch, they have a maitre d` at a station that aims to fulfill your request regarding table size. A table for two was never a problem but we preferred a table of 6 or more this way we had a chance to meet fellow cruisers from other part of the world! We ate most of our breakfast at Lido Café due to morning shore tours. We also ordered coffee, tea Juices and Danishes in some morning, enjoyed them while watching the beautiful Mediterranean Sun rise
Shows and entertainments. On the whole we thought the production shows are excellent and we felt that QV certainly had the very best singers dancers compared to QM-2 the Victoriana is a very interesting and innovative production on Victorian periods. The Irish Comedian Walsh's show is excellent and people rolling over the floor with laughs as the jokes are very funny. The Queens Ball room is compact compared to QM-2 nevertheless the bands and Paul Ritchie singing are also excellent.
Shore tours. Normally we did our own tours in past cruises. However, due to my painful arthritic knee, we took ship organized tours in all the ports including the tender port of Santarini. The tours were impressive conducted by knowledgeable tour guides and excellent tour buses.
Disembarkation. We took the ship arranged bus. We disembarked just to find out that our luggage were already transported to Air France terminal and was waiting to be picked up at the, absolutely faultless, certainly following the "White Star Service" credo. Negative side, on sea days the chair hogs reserved chair near the pools with beach towels early in the morning and most of the times they were not there.
Air France was on time and reached NYC JFK by 9 PM. Our Limo driver was waiting for us and we reached home at 10:30 PM A perfect finish to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on a beautiful voyage