Queen Victoria………In The Presence of Royalty

December 13, 2007 -

John Heald

It was Sunday morning that we began the three hour drive from home to Southampton and it will come as a huge surprise to you all that it was raining, miserable and grey weather that accompanied us for the entire journey. This however did not dampen our excitement as we began our journey. I was in a bad mood and this was due to the fact that I had to carry a suitcase to the car that was weighed the same as …………well…………..me.”Bloody hell Heidi” I cried. We are only going for two days what the heck is in here?  The answer was, of course, just a look that could freeze the Sahara and I spent the first twenty minutes of the journey with Heidi explaining to me that I know nothing about packing, I know nothing about the pressures of making sure we had everything we needed and she educated me in the art of bringing emergency clothing in case I spilled something down my shirt or someone had the same dress on as her. She also told me she had brought 6 pairs of underwear for me…………I was going to ask why when I realised ……………………. she was probably right to do that …………….there was going to be a lot of eating of rich and luxurious food………there might be problems……………emergency underwear …………….well done Heidi.

Heidi in her dress in the library

As we reached the outskirts of Southampton, the excitement grew as we got ever closer to seeing her. Now normally at this stage, Heidi and I have the standard argument about directions but on this occasion it was needed as deep purple Cunard signs pointed us and the many others who had made the pilgrimage in the right direction.

John in his tuxedo in the library

Then as we reached the major road toward the city center and the docks there was an obvious sign that this was no ordinary ship…………..and that sign was………….well……….a sign. A huge billboard proudly dominated the entrance to the town of Southampton and its regal proclamation showed already how proud the town itself was to have the vessel here. It read “THE QUEEN VICTORIA IS IN RESIDENCE FROM DECEMBER 8 – DECEMBER 11.” This proud statement was accompanied by a beautiful photo of the vessel and I found myself changing down gears and I found myself thrashing the Honda to speeds of nearly 60 mph so I could get there quicker.

Eventually we arrived at the dock entrance and as we rounded the corner…………….there she was. In all her glory……………….The Queen Victoria was indeed in residence.

The Britannia Dining Room

The organization that was beyond perfect for the entire time we were there began as we were ushered to our parking facility. Even having to lift a suitcase out of the boot (trunk) that really needed to be lifted out by a forklift or Steve Austin did not bother me as we were nearly there. A bus had been organized to transport us and the many travel agents who were also parking their cars to the ship and it was interesting to sit on the bus and listen to their excitement as well. My goodness, they were all so young though and for a minute I felt like I was on a school trip, on the bus, with loads of pretty girls and as usual none were talking to me.

After the short ride from the car park to the ship, we disembarked to the sounds of Silent Night being sung by a singing company of young children…………..ah yes…………..it is nearly Christmas and what a gift we were all about to unwrap.

Heidi in front of the Royal Court Theatre

We went through security and check in and as we waited to board I was met by the stunningly beautiful Sabrina who works for Cunard and had arranged our tickets. She gave us a warm welcome and for some reason I found myself kissing her on both cheeks as if she was an old friend. She was warm and kind and said she would return with our cabin keys shortly. “What a nice lady ” I said to Heidi……………..yes she said …………smiling…………but I knew behind the smile her mind was working out whether I deserved to be in the dog house for being over familiar. However, the magic of the occasion must have softened her up as I remained out of it……………..for now anyway.

The Royal Court Theatre

As we waited for our keys, I met some of my friends from the U.S.A. press corps. I won’t mention them all by name in case I forget someone but it was humbling that many of them congratulated me yet again on the blog and its success…………….coming from people who are true professionals…………..well ………….let’s just say it made me as happy as if………..I don’t know……………….oh……………ummm………….as happy as if Sabrina had asked me to runaway with her to a desert island and run naked together along the golden sands and afterwards she would feed me jelly beans and as the sun set we would lay together on the sand we would roll around as the waves gently broke over our entwined ………………. sorry………… I was back in the realms of fantasy there………….anyway, I was honoured to be amongst the press and listen to their words of praise.

The luxurious carpet of the Queen Victoria

Sabrina returned with our keys and she led us up the gangway to board the vessel. As we reached ship security onboard we encountered the only problem we would encounter the entire time we were there……………….my name was on the boarding list but Heidi’s was not. Sabrina asked the chief security officer to look at her maiden name “ten Brink” ………”Ah, yes,” said the chief security officer, “German names often are written in the wrong way on our list.”…………………………………….now, calling someone from Holland a German is the same as calling me French, the same as calling the Queen Victoria a cruise ship or Paris Hilton and Britney Spears role models. I could feel Heidi simmering behind me and just as I thought the chief security was about to get the good news from Heidi’s Gucci boot, he found her name and Sabrina ushered us onboard……………….he had a lucky escape and as someone who has had an entire shoe store hanging from my bottom I can tell you…………chief………you and your bottom had a lucky escape.

And so we boarded. The last time we visited the Queen in the shipyard was undressed …………oops, that did not sound right…………..I mean………………she had no fittings, furniture, etc but now she was fully clothed in the finest fittings that money can buy. This was evident straight away as we walked to our cabin on carpet that was thick and luxurious and would not have looked out of place in the corridors of Buckingham Palace.

The Winter Garden

We said goodbye to Sabrina (although I will never forget her) and entered cabin 6143. This cabin is as you can see on deck 6 and featured a beautiful balcony and fittings and furniture of the highest order…………..how luck we were. Now, I wanted to get out and explore straight away but that particular avenue of pleasure had to wait as Heidi said she could not possibly leave the cabin until she had hung her dress and my suit and unpacked three weeks worth of clothes. So, there I sat waiting as she unpacked, hung her dress, folded my underwear and eventually permission was granted to go and explore.

Before I continue I want to talk about the crew. Having worked at sea for twenty years I feel I am able to comment fairly on this subject. I have seen great crew and have worked alongside some of the very best and the very best is obviously what the Queen Victoria has serving her lucky guests. The crew, like most vessels are international and represent many different nationalities (hence my use of the word international …….sorry.) Some had come from the Queen Mary 2, some from the Queen Elizabeth and some from our sister company Princess ………….all, though, had one thing in common………….and for me this was one of the highlights of my visit. It was as though they had just been given a brand new Bentley GTC and now they were sitting in the driving seat at the traffic lights content in the knowledge that yep…………this is mine.

A traditional Cunard Bellboy in the Grand Lobby

This was the case with every crewmember I met. I spoke to waiters, bar staff, chefs and stateroom stewards and all were so proud, not that forced pride that department heads had placed upon them but genuine pride……………their faces said this is my ship and it’s the best in the world. I want to thank all the crew I spoke to and in particular a young lady called Sabrina ………….. sorry…………I mean Laura from Yorkshire. She works in the bar department and served my diet cokes in various lounges. She said something that sums up the crew of the Queen Victoria. I asked her how she liked the ship and she said “When I tell my friends and family that I work for Cunard and in particular here on the Queen Victoria they look at me as though I have just told them I am a film star.”  Well Laura, you and all the crew are all stars and to say you were part of the inaugural crew of this soon to be historic vessel is something to shout about now and in the future. My advice, save every little memorabilia you can from the first cruise………………I wonder how much a program from the inaugural cruise will fetch on eBay in 2070?

So, back to our tour. There were hundreds of travel agents having guided tours of the vessel but Heidi and I decided to walk the vessel on our own as we had visited twice before and had some idea of the lay out. I am going to mention some of the areas specifically in a moment but let me get some superlatives out of the way now before I start…………..amazing, brilliant, incomparable, stunning, incredible, beautiful, gorgeous, historic, unrivaled, exuberant, luxurious, royal, regal, unmatched, smashing, super, spiffing, Sabrina………….in fact insert any superlative you can think of ……………  any……………and there will be something on this ship to compliment your choice of words. It seemed that the agents touring the ship agreed as “WOWS” and “OH MY GOSH” and “LOOK AT THIS” and “THAT IS INCREDIBLE” and “WHERE IS THE FREE CHAMPAGNE” echoed around the vessel ………………and this some of the most critical people in the business. So, let’s chat about some of the areas.

The Todd English restaurant

THE QUEENS ROOM

The last time we were onboard, the room already had something that made you realise that this would become one of the most famous rooms at sea. Seeing it completed I realised  that this statement was incorrect………………it was not going to be one of the most famous rooms at sea………………it was going to be THE most famous room at sea. The artwork is stunning and the two huge chandeliers shine their light down on the dancers who float across the floor. During the two days we were there an eight-piece orchestra and singer provided music from yesterday.

The Queens Room
The Queens Room

The second evening, a true Cunard tradition was held in the form of a masquerade ball and beautiful Venetian style masks were handed out…………….I was asked not to take mine off. In the afternoon the tradition of English High Tea is served. This involves pots of tea, using proper tea, not tea bags, accompanied by fresh cream and jam-filled scones, finger sandwiches and treats. It is a room to watch the world go by from, to dance and fall in love with your partner all over again. Or, to find a new one called Sabrina ………………. it really is that special and in the Queen Victoria will have for many years the most talked about area on any ship.

THE ROYAL COURT THEATRE.

Let me start my review of the show room with an apology. I am no doubt going to delve into my limited bag of superlatives here and repeat myself as well as start with a naughty word and I therefore I apologize in advance………….here we go. Bloody Hell ……………….this place is extraordinary. I had seen the theatre under construction but to see it completed was just……………..well…………….let’s just say that I was gobsmacked ……………….and to remind you that is a word that means your mouth just hangs open and although you try and find the words…………..nothing happens and you just stand there looking stupid with your mouth wide open stammering to find the right words. It reminded me of the time when I first met Sabrina.

Seating is on three different levels. The lower levels, the upper levels and of course the private boxes of which I will speak more about later. All the seats are deep crimson and made of the finest materials. They are indeed luxurious theatre seats and because of the brilliant design of the room there is not a bad seat in the place. We have all been in theatres on land and at sea that have a few seats that because of poles (I mean that structurally not people from Poland) blocking views but the Royal Court had none of this and therefore every seat (and I sat in all the areas to test this ) was indeed the best seat in the house.

Then, of course, there are the private boxes. These can be reserved for a small fee of $25 and for that you do not just get to see the show from a box not dissimilar from those in Milan’s La Scala or London’s Albert Hall but you also get a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne and personal waiter service who will see to your hearts desire during the performances. A little later I am going to describe how Heidi and I were treated like VIP’s throughout our visit but one special treat was that we got to watch the show from the Royal Box. This is a special box which the Royal Family have given permission to be called ROYAL. So, not only is the Royal Court Theatre the first show room at sea to have private boxes but also the first and probably for now the only ship to have a Royal Box.

I was told that Carnival Corporation’s Chairman Mr. Micky Arison and his beautiful wife Madeleine had sat there the night before and now Heidi and I were allowed this incomparable experience. The show was called Victoriana and featured the dancers and singers in an authentic tribute to the Victorian era. One of the sections includes a song full of “Cockney Rhyming Slang” which such words as Plates of Meat………….FEET Apples and Pears…….STAIRS; Dog and Bone…………PHONE; Brittney Spears ………… EARS; Trouble and Strife……..WIFE; Ertha Kitt……………..??? Anyway, you get the idea.

The exclusive china wear in the Todd English

The show finishes with a rousing rendition of Land of Hope and Glory where everyone is given a Union Jack flag to wave………………great fun. Now, the Royal Box also has a special addition and it’s a long cord which you pull as and when you want service. When you pull it a bell rings in the butler’s pantry and he or she will come running to see to your every wish. I thought I would try it out and rang the bell……….within seconds the butler appeared…………….bowing slightly he asked what he could get me……………… “Sabrina” I replied…………….”excuse me, sir I didn’t understand”…………”a Diet Coke please,” I replied……………….He returned immediately with the beverage and feeling guilty at my first request, I gave him a nice tip to say thank you.

Grand Lobby art work

He was another shinning example of the wondrous crew and my only regret is I do not remember his name. He was tall, very distinguished looking and carried a white table napkin over his arm and would have done anything for me……………..thank you sir, you were fantastic. So, the Royal Court is again one of a kind and the people who perform on the stage must be so proud to entertain in such a regal and luxurious environment.

THE GOLDEN LION BRITISH PUB

Before I chat with you about the pub I realised why I love the design of the ship so very much. Do you remember I mentioned during my first two visits to the ship that I felt the public spaces were so open and so inviting and I realise why now. There are no doors. All the public lounges and bars are open plan and are warm and inviting. Congratulations to all concerned for creating this special atmosphere.

So back to the pub. The Golden lion is designed on the typical British Pub with wooden beams and traditional Pub Grub served for lunch such as Fish and Chips, Shepherds Pie and of course Spotted Dick. On both evenings Heidi and I sat with our great friends over a pint of beer (Diet Coke for me) and listened to the amazing piano entertainer. This is a great place to hang out and enjoy the great British traditions of drinking, eating and staring at Sabrina.

THE GRAND LOBBY

This is where dreams are made. The dream of being on an ocean liner bearing the name of a monarch and sweeping down the richly carpeted stairs to the accompaniment of a classical quartet or the majestic sounds of the harp all come true here. I am not talented enough to provide the right words to describe how you will feel when you walk down the stairs past the grandfather clock that chimes out the hours…………………….there is simply nothing like it.

I could go on and on about the public rooms. The two-level library featuring 6,000 books, the Cunard Museum housing special and historic mementos from Cunard’s historic past. I could mention the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar, the Chart Room, The Courtyard, The Commodores Club, Hemispheres, The Spa, and Sabrina………..all of them are so beautiful and will provide guests with the best of the best. However, I must change gears and talk about food.

Heidi and I enjoyed two lunches and one dinner in the fabulous Britannia Restaurant which is the main restaurant onboard. It is dominated by a huge globe and I have to say that the food was as good as I have eaten anywhere on land or sea. I particularly enjoyed the seafood dishes and the duck appetizer. I am not a food critic and will not even try to be. I just know if I like the food or not and I can tell you I loved it all. The flavors, the presentation and the service were second to none.

John receives his Seatrade Award from CEO of Carnival U.K. - Mr. David Dingle

Heidi and I were also invited to dine at the specialty restaurant Todd English. Todd is one of the most famous chefs in the world and his new restaurant on the Queen Victoria follows in the major success of the one on Queen Mary 2 as well his restaurant in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. We sat with great friends amongst them Mr and Mrs. Antonini from Fincantieri whose company has built this glorious vessel. I wonder how they and all the workers must feel seeing their hard work and devotion finally come together and to witness so many people marveling at the ship and her beauty. So, before we continue let us give a huge ovation to Mr.Antonini and the men and women of Fincantieri ship builders for turning dreams into reality.

I also want to say thank you to the charming Mrs.Antonini whom I sat next to at dinner. She was charming and warm hearted and I thank her for making Heidi and I so welcome as did the entire table. Back to Sabrina……………..I mean Todd and his restaurant. The design of the restaurant is simple yet oozes luxury and contentment. I had the privilege of meeting the Chef English before dinner and I promised him I would give an honest opinion of the food in this blog thingy of mine. Chef……………………the beef was historic…………..the best I have eaten and the sauce left me wanting to take a bucket of it back to bed to dunk large pieces of your home made bread in.

Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia
Rule Britannia

The entire meal was extraordinary and I know one of the first things guests will want to do is book a table……………….and you are only charging $30……..are you nuts? Seriously, the dinner was amazing and the names Todd English and Cunard go together as well as Simon and Garfunkel, Astaire and Rogers, John and Sabrina……….congratulations Chef……………you should be very proud.

I am not sure though if Heidi enjoyed her meal as she was too busy staring at Chef English who apparently was voted one of the top thirty best looking men in the world by publications such as People Magazine. Now, I was once told that you should never trust a thin Chef so I had no idea what to expect when I met Chef English whose dashing good looks made me want to give him a close encounter with a frying pan. However, he obviously ignores the fact that he would be as comfortable on the front page of GQ or the Arkansas Pig Farmers News and thank goodness he did………………he belongs in the kitchen and we all belong in his restaurant.

The Spa pool
The Spa pool

I did not have a chance to eat in the Princess or Queens Grill but the reports I heard from those that did echoed mine of the Britannia…………..the food and the service were indeed fit for a King……………or a Queen.

There is so much more I could write about but now I have to chat with you about the naming ceremony. Now to call this a naming ceremony is like calling an Aston Martin………….just a car and with the greatest respect to the many ceremonies I have seen and the ones still to come I think I safely say that nothing…………..nothing will compare to this.

The band of HM Royal Marines

Approximately one thousand guests had been invited to witness this special occasion. Now, what can I call the area that had been erected outside for the ceremony? I heard one person call it a tent and he was immediately told that it was a theatre and indeed it was. It seated one thousand plus guests, had a Royal box, a beautiful 20-foot high crimson curtain, which as we entered, displayed the Royal Cunard Crest. Heidi and I were seated in row J and everywhere we looked we saw a host of famous names. These famous people included film and TV, personalities from Great Britain, peers of the realm, the presidents of our various sister lines and other important people.

The Cunard crest on the curtain in the theatre used for the naming ceremony

It was very humbling to be amongst all these great people. In front of me sat former Deputy Prime Minister and across to the right I was sure I could see George Hamilton. I am not one for introducing myself to famous people, as I know myself that privacy is important at certain times. However, there was one man I wanted to meet and I took the time to shake his hand. This man was made famous due to the shocking injuries he received during the Falklands conflict. His facial injuries became known all over the U.K. and his bravery more so. His name is Simon Weston and nobody deserved to be at this ceremony more than he and it was a huge privilege for me to meet him.

Anyway, back to the ceremony. As we entered, the music of the band of the Her Majesty’s Royal Marines filled the theatre and the pomp and circumstance began. Twelve trumpeters lined the stage and their fanfare welcomed His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. They had spent two hours touring the vessel and here they were sitting just a few yards from Heidi and I. We all stood as they entered and we were invited to sing the national anthem. This Anthem was played by the Royal Marines Band and by another icon of the music world, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Anthony English.

The Captain invites Camilla to name the vessel

The sense of ceremony overtook me and I threw my head back and sang the words to God Save The Queen with great gusto. My reward for this was a right elbow to the solar plexus as obviously Heidi did not enjoy my singing talents. However, like all of us, she did enjoy the singing talents of opera star Katherine Jenkins who sang the Gypsy Dance from Bizet’s Carmen. Now, during this, she was joined on stage by some wonderful dancers and during the performance one of those rare moments where every hair on your body stands on end and you are covered in goosebumps occurred.

The Library

The last times this has happened to me was when I got to drive an Aston Martin and the first time I met Sabrina.  However, these moments were surpassed when I and the one thousand people witnessed the back curtain being pulled aside and there bathed in glorious sunshine was the Queen Victoria. It was one of those defining moments you will never forget. We all gasped and as the pyrotechnics shot flames into the crisp afternoon sky, I once again realized, I was part of history………………pinch me.

It was now time for the naming ceremony and the Royal party accompanied by Captain Paul Wright, Ms. Carol Marlow and Mr. Micky Arison joined a selection of proud Cunard crew on stage. The Duchess of Cornwall blessed the ship and all those who will sail on her and named the vessel and now the most famous ocean liner in the world, the Queen Victoria. She pressed the bottom and the bottle thumped against the side of the hull. Now, I am sure you know by now that the bottle did not break and indeed, some of the press has made a big deal about this. It is unfortunate but these things do happen. I am sure there are scientific reasons as to why, however, the thing didn’t break. This was noticed for a second by the audience and of course by those on stage.

John’s Christmas ball

There was a split second when no one on stage seemed to know what to do next. However, Mr. Arison having been present at many naming ceremonies rescued the situation by extending his hand to the Duchess, congratulating her and as he did so, the confetti fell from the sky, the fanfare started and everyone forgot the bottle had not broken and remembered that they had witnessed the beginning of Cunard’s newest liners’ life. The only person who seemed to be bothered by the bottle not braking was a man sitting on my right who for some reason decided to cross himself and then buried has face in his hands as if someone had just told him there was no cabin for him tonight and he would have to share with me.

As the service continued, many of us saw a sailor stand on the bow and, as tradition requires, did indeed smash a bottle of champagne on the bow………job done. The ceremony continued with a magnificent look back at Cunard’s historic past narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi and a performance of Nesun Dorma by three young and immensely talented tenors accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Heidi celebrates Christmas on the Queen Victoria, clothes sponsored by Jean Claude Penny.

There was then a reminder that it was the holiday season and from the back of the theatre carrying candles entered the young men and women of the Winchester Cathedral Choir who sang “O Come All Ye Faithful” along with the audience. There was then a reminder that in January all three Queens will be docked together in New York. This reminder came in the form of the song “I saw three ships” and what a sight that will be as the Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2 will be together for the first time. 

The ceremony ended with the amazing sight of one thousand people singing Rule Britannia……the hairs were back up again. It was something we will never forget and I do not think Camilla will ever forget it either. There has been a lot written about her and all I can say is that she did the ship proud and I even heard a little whisper that she was so impressed with the ship that she told her husband she wanted to come back and experience a voyage for herself. Why not? What a great idea. How terrific that would be for her. I hope one day she will get to sail.

So, although the bottle not breaking seemed to be what some reporters concentrated on, the feeling from all the distinguished visitors was one of deep pride and none were prouder than Heidi and I. After the dedication, everyone returned to the vessel and while many departed on guided tours I found myself a very comfortable chair in the cigar bar and shared a moment of contemplation. The cigar bar is called Churchill’s named after the world’s most famous cigar smoker. I was joined by Sir Jimmy Saville, who is an incomparable TV presenter and who was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to various charities. While I remember, I want to give an opinion on something. Now, I mean this with the greatest respect and, remember, it is just my opinion and as the disclaimer at the side at my blog thingy suggests, it is not necessarily an opinion shared by others. What’s it all about?……..

The answer……chairs. This is the first ship I have ever been on where every single chair is designed, well……to sit on and to sit on comfortably. I have been on many other ships from other lines, including the one I work for whose chair designs are modern, state of the art designs, yet, are as comfortable as sitting on a pointed stick. Every single chair on the Queen Victoria is inviting and makes you want to stay seated there forever …… designers, please take note.

The rest of the evening was a whirlwind of parties and eating and meeting new people. I shared dinner with a very famous author of books about ships Mr. John Maxtone-Graham. He had some delightful stories to tell and he was just one of many charming people we met. I also met a reporter from the Sun Newspaper called Steve Read who is a lot of fun and a great writer and believe it or not was a big fan of the blog.

This leads me to the subject of the blog actually. I cannot begin to tell you just how many people seemed to have read it and expressed their enjoyment in doing so. I guess having 1,400,000 readers it should not be a surprise but hearing the words “Oh, you are the blog man” and “Are you John who writes the blog?” was very humbling and I admit, made me feel very proud of myself. Even the editor of Cruise Critic, the lovely Carolyn, said she was a fan………so thanks to everyone who made me feel so special.

While I am saying thank you I must voice a big thank you to the Entertainment Director (the equivalent of a Cruise Director, actually more important than a Cruise Director) Alistair Greener. I spent some time with Alistair and he like all the crew seemed so very proud to be there and you can see why he was chosen as he is a richly talented man. Good luck mate and thank you so much for your kind hospitality and enjoy the following weeks and months being on the Queen Victoria.

I must also say a big thank you to Captain Wright who recognized me as I wandered the vessel. He thanked me for the article I had previously written and I thanked him for the amazing answers he had written to my questions. I doubt that there is any prouder man at sea at the moment and I know the huge responsibility of being the Master of the Queen Victoria will rest easily on his vastly experienced shoulders.

There are so many others I should acknowledge……………..Ray Calori who sat with me at the show and made me feel like I was a special VIP and David Dingle of who I shall be posting an interview with in the next few days. Also, I never got to say hello to Ms. Carol Marlow to say thank you for her hospitality and the invitation to join her for this event. She was obviously very busy and I must congratulate her on her speech at the ceremony which was delivered with passion and pride. Thank you Carol and many, many congratulations.

So, to finish…………………how good is the ship?………………Well, there is no better people to ask than a group of people called Cunarders. These are people who have sailed many times on Cunard vessels and are very honest in their opinions. A special party had been arranged for these VIP’s to attend and I thought I might join them and listen to their stories of past voyages and to get their opinion of the latest Queen to join the fleet.

I have been on many ships where, honestly, you hear most people say they love them but you will get some who will say “I like this, but I don’t like that” but not here……………not on the Queen Victoria……………..I could not find one person…………..and believe me I tried……….who had anything negative to say about the ship and as experienced as they were and as in love with the Cunard ships of the past, they were all were smitten by the magic of the Queen Victoria.  This was true whereever you turned, everyone was in awe of the ship……………remember this is a true to life blog, it is not and never will be a brochure or a sales tool but I will say this.

The Queen Victoria is going to be immensely popular with British and European guests as all Cunard ships are but for the first time since I started this blog. I want to use it as a sales tool……………….North America……………..sailing the Queen Victoria must be added on your list of things to do and places to see. Don’t think it is just for the rich and famous to sail on………….that would be a huge and silly mistake to make………………this is a ship for all to enjoy and whether it is a trans Atlantic crossing, one of her exciting voyages to the Med, Caribbean and ports around the world. It is quite simple………………if you love ships then you must experience this ship for yourself…………book now…………..I give you my word ……….it will be a voyage like no other and a vacation that will be unforgettable.

Before Carnival Corporation took over the reigns, Cunard’s future was uncertain. Now though the fleet is growing once again and Mary and Victoria will be joined in 2010 by a new Elizabeth………………..the future of the Royal Family at sea is therefore assured.

So, I thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts and that my ramblings have done some justice to what was a very special day.

I will never forget her, she is beautiful, stunning and one day I hope to meet her again ………enough though about Sabrina…………………..let’s all raise a glass as we toast The Queen Victoria………….God Bless Her and All Those Who Sail On Her…………….and I hope that’s you.

No words needed……

Goodnight

Your friends

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.