Passengers:2,006 World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #9 Large Ocean Ship Best for: Couples, Anglophiles, and cruising traditionalists looking for a taste of throwback glamour
Sails: Australia and New Zealand, Bermuda, the British Isles, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Panama Canal, the South Pacific, South America, World Cruise
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing ninth in the Large Ocean Ship category. Elegant and opulent, Queen Victoria harkens back to the golden age of cruising. This is a ship for travelers who prefer ballroom dancing to bumper cars, who’d rather spend their days at sea in a two-floor, wood-paneled library than negotiating a rope course.
Cunard has one of the strictest dress codes of any line: jackets are required on informal nights, and most men break out their tuxes for formal nights, though a suit and tie will do. (On the Queen Victoria only, jackets are optional on embarkation days in Athens, Barcelona, Rome, and Venice during the summer Mediterranean season.) Expect to see classical and jazz musicians in many of the public areas—everything from a harpist to a string quartet. Balls with themes like Victoriana and Royal Ascot are held throughout the voyage, and most nights there is dancing on the 1,000-square-foot floor in the opulent Queens Room.
Like sister ships Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria evokes the golden age of cruise travel, a time when passengers traveled the world by ocean liner rather than jet plane. The design is distinctly Old World, with a rich color palette, mahogany walls, and marble floors. The focal point of this splendor is the dramatic three-deck-high, wood-paneled Grand Lobby, punctuated by a crystal chandelier, a bronze relief mural, and sweeping staircase with wrought-iron balustrading.
When you book your stateroom, you’re also choosing your dining room for the voyage. Britannia cabins, the most affordable class, are assigned a table and one of two seating times at the grand, two-floor Britannia dining room. Suite or “Grill” passengers have open-seating restaurants: the Princess Grill (which caters exclusively to passengers in Princess Grill suites) and the Queens Grill (the domain of guests in Queens Grill suites). Grill guests can also reserve a table on the outdoor terrace. They also have their own private lounge and concierge. No surprise: As you go up in class the number of options and quality of the food improves. At the Queens Grill, for example, the menu includes refined fare like chateaubriand and duckling à l’orange.
The most decadent dinner onboard can be found at Verandah, set on the second floor of the Grand Lobby. For a cover charge, passengers sit down to refined French dishes like grilled sea bass in an orange and Pernod broth or beef and lobster flambéed with cognac and truffle. If you’re in the mood for something more casual, head to the Golden Lion Pub, where passengers can watch a football over a pint of Boddingtons and a plate of fish ‘n’ chips. At dinner, one part of the Lido buffet restaurant turns into an alternative dining room with themes that change every night: one evening it may be Asian, the next Indian.
With a pub, walls of Cunard memorabilia, and a theater that feels straight out of London’s West End, this ship is an Anglophile’s dream. Nowhere is that more evident than at the daily afternoon tea served in the Queens Room, rendered even more glamorous by cantilevered balconies and crystal chandeliers that hover above the inlaid wood patterns on the dance floor.