We sailed from Hamburg, Germany, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Cunard’s Queen Victoria in January. 13 nights translates into about 39 meals. We frequented four of the many restaurants onboard.
Most of our meals took place in the Britannia dining room, the logical venue for passengers traveling in Britannia grade staterooms. The dining room is aft, occupying a large part of decks two and three. Upon arrival, you receive your table assignment card in your stateroom.
Ambiance: It’s quite elegant. Polished wood, linen tablecloths. Your waiter places your napkin in your lap. Assigned seating is at tables of 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10. You can request to be seated at another table if tablemate chemistry isn’t good, but you are expected to sit at your assigned table. Lots of crystal, china, silver plate and linen.
Seatings: Two. 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM.
Service: The staff is incredibly well trained. Women’s orders are taken first. They are served first. The staff recognizes Americans prefer coffee alongside dessert while Brits prefer coffee as a separate course, post dessert. Your table has a waiter and assistant waiter. They learn your names. There’s a table or section captain who visits periodically. The sommelier for your section quickly learns which tables need how much attention. A maître d’ oversees the dining room. They are the person who changes seating.
Food: It’s excellent. Meals are three courses, appetizer entrée and dessert. Coffee follows. We’ve heard the menu series rotates every 23 days. Expect beef tenderloin, lobster, steak, lamb, shrimp, game and other high-profile items. There are health conscious selections. Here’s the clue: One dish in each category has caloric information. Lunch is an abbreviated version of dinner. Breakfast is excellent. In addition to conventional breakfast items, they off the “Full English.” They also have smoked fish, like kippers. They offer Eggs Benedict and Smoked Salmon with cream cheese.
Extras: There’s a Captain’s Table, empty except on formal nights when it’s hosted by the Captain or senior officers. It’s by invitation. Back at the table, chocolate souffle was my wife’s favorite.
Pros/Cons: Lots of pros. As listed above. Only cons are no ordering off the menu and dinner concludes in about two hours, because they need to reset the room. You can’t linger all night.
Overall: I think it’s prefect. 10/10.
Out on the Verandah
The major specialty restaurant is The Verandah, located on Deck 3. It’s an alternative dining option. Lunch has a $ 20/head supplement. Dinner is about $ 39.00/head. You make reservations in advance. We dined on three occasions: The wine themed Lunch and Learn (4 courses, 8 wines, $80.00), lunch for two and dinner for two.
Ambiance: It’s elegant. Plenty of space. Lots of crystal, china, silver plate and linen. Courses are served with lots of copper. Logically, this experience should be midway between the Britannia and Grill dining experiences.
Seating: Banquette seating and freestanding tables for 2 or 4. A couple of private areas for small parties. At no point do you feel crowded or people might overhear conversations.
Service: It’s excellent. You are welcomed upon arrival. The maître d’ shows you to your table and checks on service during the meal. They are thrilled to take your photo with your phone. They clean up every crumb between courses.
Food: It’s basically three courses, appetizer, entrée and dessert. However, when it comes to sides, you order everything you want. If you want a salad too, it’s no problem. Most sides come in elegant copper pots. The theme during our voyage was “steakhouse.” They visit the table with a platter, displaying the different cuts. The choices include a Kobe beef steak of the highest quality. This one steak has an additional surcharge. We ordered the chilled seafood platter featuring lobster, king crab, large shrimp, langoustines, mussels, scallops and more. This had a $20 per person surcharge, as I recall, but it was huge!
Pros/Cons: It’s elegant. You get the feeling you can stay as long as you like. On the con side, the wine list is abbreviated. Wines by the glass feature the more expensive items. They will get you glasses of the Cunard house wines, but they need to do outside the restaurant. No big deal. They were quick.
Overall: It’s a good experience, but I’m guessing the Grills are better. It should be closer to that level. It’s a nice “night out” when you want a break from your assigned restaurant. I would score it 8/10.
Let’s Meet at the Pub for Lunch
At first glance, the Golden Lion on Deck 2 is a pub themed bar. Since this is a British ship with lots of British passengers, it’s the full pub experience including music, quizzes and pub lunches. I don’t think most passengers make the connection that although drinks cost money, there’s no charge for food.
Ambiance: It’s a faithful recreation of a Victorian era pub, the type you would find in lots of British towns and cities. Unlike those pubs, it’s new construction. There’s lots of light compared to pubs back home. It’s very clean. The furniture looks and feels pretty new. All good things. There are TVs for sports and a stage for music. They use linen napkins.
Seating: Pub seating does not involve big tables. There are small round tables and small rectangular ones. I think there’s some bench seating too. There are lots and lots of space in the room. There is seating at the bar, as I recall.
Service: It’s good, but not as fast as you might like. It’s because there are lots and lots of small tables. Unlike a cocktail lounge, people are eating full meals too. I think we waited a bit for our food.
Food: The menu is traditional British pub favorites. Fish and chips. Cumberland sausage and mash. Ploughman’s lunch. Beef and suet pudding. There are several draft beers and lots of selections by the bottle. They have the proper glassware you would expect in a pub. I was quite happy with the food.
Pros/Cons: It’s a great casual dining alternative. However, it can get crowded for that reason. The tables are small.
Overall: We had a great experience having lunch with another couple. No reservations required. You just show up. I would score it 9/10.
The Lido for Casual Dining
Not everyone wants a formal meal with linen napkins three times a day. People get hungry at different times. Sometimes you don’t want to wait for service, you are hungry and want to grab your food and eat it. The Lido Restaurant on Deck 9 delivers on all counts.
Ambience: Although the layout is similar to a cafeteria, that would be doing it as disservice. It’s a buffet style self-service restaurant. You serve yourself and find your own seating. There’s food available all day, it just changes. It’s bright, clean and airy. Tables are large. Silverware is on the tables, wrapped in linen napkins. The plates are Wedgwood.
Seating: It’s open seating, tables of two or four in long rows along the windows. Great views. A few larger round tables in corners.
Service: Since it’s self-service, you are providing most of the service. Staff clean dishes away from tables promptly. Wine stewards are available for drink orders.
Food: There’s a huge selection. Upon entering the Lido restaurant, you see the day’s menu. Expect a carved selection like beef, turkey or pork. Sauces and sides too. Lots of hot chafing dishes with baked fish and other entrees. Plenty of vegetables. There’s a cold line with many salad items, sliced meats, breads, smoked fish, fruit and cheese. The dessert stations have lots of selections including a soft ice cream machine. There’s usually a featured cuisine in one section. Baked potatoes (for stuffed potatoes) and pizza are available at lunchtime. There’s coffee and tea plus juices from a machine. At about 3:00 PM, the theme switches to tea with scones, tea sandwiches, cakes and pastries. The quality is pretty high overall.
Pros/Cons: The selection is great. It’s almost always open. You don’t need to dress up. It’s open seating. There are no trays. You take a plate, get some food and carry it to the table. The food in the Britannia dining room is better and presented more attractively, but that’s fine, not casual dining.
Overall: Although I prefer formal dining, there’s a lot to like about the Lido Restaurant, especially when you come back hungry from time in a port. It gets a 9/10.
Cover photo: Queen Victoria Britannia restaurant table setting, credit Bryce Sanders
For more information and to book a Queen Victoria sailing, click here https://www.cruisecompete.com/ships/queen_victoria_cruises.html
For more information about Cunard Line and Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria, click here https://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/cunard_cruises.html
To see Bryce’s daily posts from this Queen Victoria voyage, please see his blog link below.