Written by Safarigal
June 24, 2022




We are back home now, almost everything is unpacked, and my jet lag is improving. I remain miffed that Queen Mary 2 was not available to return us home in style.

Our time on Queen Victoria was wonderful despite some issues, and I am so glad that we went through with this vacation. The COVID pandemic is really not over, and some friends thought we were crazy to embark on such a journey. However we are not getting any younger or healthier, so we thought it was well worth the risks involved. Maybe we were lucky, but we got home safe and sound and loved every minute of being able to travel again.

It was interesting to be on Queen Victoria’s return to service voyage.

We had not been on her since 2017, so this was the first time we had seen the remodel. Quite honestly, it looked like this was the way she had always been. We did not miss the space taken up by the new Britannia Club dining room, and the lengthening of the Lido deck pool area was really a bonus we thought. There seemed to be much more shade, and areas to sit and socialize.

I am not sure what work was done at the recent drydocking, and which carpets were replaced. However, the ship looked fresh and updated, and I didn’t see any signs of wear and tear or decay. There was rust on our balcony, but every stateroom we have seems to have rust, so now I come to expect it.

There was evidence that COVID was still among us.

On the starboard side mid to aft on decks 6, 7, and 8 the entry doors were blocked off. No one officially told us what that was about, but we assumed those were the staterooms set aside for isolation of COVID positive passengers. We never saw anyone go in or out, and if there were passengers in those cabins we were never aware of it.

We were sailing at half capacity apparently mostly due to staffing issues (identified as “operational reasons”). The ship didn’t feel empty, and it was nice that we could always get a lounger by the pool, and we were often the only people in the pool and hot tubs. Going around the ship at night it did feel a bit abandoned, but quite honestly it has felt that way on several cruises we were on that were sailing at full capacity before the pandemic. There were only one or 2 couples on the dance floor in the Queen’s Room some evenings. I am sure the lack of dance hosts and professional dancers contributed to that somewhat. However, it was always easy to get a seat there, even on Gala nights, so that was a bonus.

The Commodore Club was always fairly full, but not crowded, but again we were always able to find seats.

We did not go to any of the lectures. We had hoped to see them later on the TV, but the TV system was down for the whole cruise. So there were no news channels, recorded enrichment talks (except for port talks at the end), and our position was shown as being in the Caribbean for the whole trip. Strangely enough we could get German films. I hope they will correct that in Southampton.

Masks were not required except at the shows in the Royal Court Theater. We only went to see the show, and chose to sit in a box. The boxes were not full, and people seemed to be fairly spaced out (in position, not mental faculty) on the main floor. However, I did not see anyone wearing a mask from where we were sitting.

We chose to wear masks when we walked around the ship, and in the lounges, but there were very few other passengers doing that. There were no restrictions on how many people could ride in the lifts at one time. When we were on Queen Mary 2, it had been a maximum of 4 people. All of the staff were wearing masks, and had been instructed not to socialize with guests to reduce the risk of infection.

In all of the ports we were free to come and go as we wanted to, no restrictions. In La Spezia and Civitavecchia we were provided with masks and asked to wear them when on the coaches. A few people did. One of the best changes was that instead of meeting in the Royal Court Theater or Queen’s Room to get our little stickers before going on the tours, we were able to get off the ship and walk straight to the coach. That really worked well.

The same idea applied to disembarkation when we were able to remain in our stateroom until our group was called. A much better idea for passengers, not so much for the cabin stewards.

On Queen Mary 2 in May in the Kings Court, the staff served you your food, and brought you your drinks. On Queen Victoria in the Lido it was back to self-service again.

For “operational reasons” there was no specialty dining in the Lido in the evenings. I really missed that a lot. We were told that halfway through the cruise the Verandah would change into a restaurant serving “English Cuisine” in the evenings, but that never actually happened.

There has been much discussion about the new system of paying for the internet. I may be in a minority of one, but I actually think it is an improvement. We were able to get good service both with the basic and enhanced plans in our stateroom, although we did most of our work in the Commodore Club, where service was excellent.

On the 7-day crossing our $135 World Club benefit paid for all but $5 each for the enhanced service for both of us for the whole crossing. I really loved the fact that we didn’t have to count the minutes, and remember to log off each time. On the 2-week trip we used Brian’s benefit to pay for one week at the daily slow rate, and then were able to use my benefit to pay for the rest of the voyage at the enhanced rate. That meant that only one of us was able to be online at the same time, but with being able to use our phones as hotspots when we were in port, it really worked out well, and did not lead to the expected marital disharmony when I wanted to do my WORDLE and Brian needed to send out an urgent report.

What I did miss was that they did not have the IT experts helping people out. That meant that the queues at the Pursers desk were longer than usual because everyone was coming to the desk for assistance, and most of the staff didn’t know how to troubleshoot when people had issues. Bring back Adam I say!

I also found the my voyage app to be very useful, although I used it on my laptop rather than my phone because I tend to get annoyed by phone apps, and since my screen shattered they are hard to read. With the my voyage app we were able to keep an eye on our onboard spending (and there were several errors I was able to catch) and make our booking at The Veranda and our shore excursions, but not spa bookings at the moment. It is apparently a work in progress and will only get better. Not having to sign for drinks is also a plus, although the tap machine didn’t always work, and I didn’t get to steal any pens. We were provided with those awful pencils in our cabins rather than pens. Come to think of it, we also didn’t get any free postcards.

There was the guest choir again, but no cocktail parties. On the first formal night we all got a glass of sweet sparkling wine with our dinner, and at the shows the captain introduced the senior officers and staff. There was no World Club party, but we received a bottle of Pol Acker on the last formal night of the cruise. As the saying goes, what is worse than one bottle of Pol Acker? Two bottles of Pol Acker. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I go to the parties to socialize, not just drink (well I do manage to do that as well), so it’s really not a substitute. However, I do see the need to try to avoid super spreader events, so I need to get over it. There is no substitute for the senior officers party however.

So from my point of view I think Queen Victoria’s return to service was a huge success. The changes didn’t detract from the wonderful staff on board. If they were short staffed, they didn’t show it. Nothing was too much effort for them.

Reggie our cabin steward was a delight and instantly brought me my cotton wool and soap when I asked for them on embarkation (they are not provided, but available), room service delivered our fruit when requested (they don’t automatically replenish the fruit), the waiters in the bars were chatty and efficient, and quickly remembered my quirky demands.

Our service in the restaurant was probably the best we have ever had. Even the maître’ d and head waiter fussed over us. Usually we are nonexistent as far as we are concerned.

Despite our concerns, our return to cruising went well. The COVID changes at the moment on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria did not detract from our enjoyment. It was so good to be back on board again.

Now it’s time to finish the unpacking, and plan our next adventure 



Post Discussion


  1. Erin

    Thank you for taking us along on your trip. Being at home at the moment, it was nice to be able to travel virtually.

    • Safarigal

      Thank you for following along. It does feel good to be traveling again. Our next trip is a family cruise, but I won’t be blogging – I think they will all keep me far too busy!

      • Karen

        What fun. You must have quite a group of everyone comes. We’ve done a few family cruises, it’s a pretty small group.

        • Safarigal

          It’s just us, 2 of our kids and their partners, and our grandson, so that should be manageable. We did a cruise with 20 of us several years ago and that was quite a lot of work but great fun!

  2. Frances M

    What a nice wrap-up. And good information for someone about to board QE. I’m back onboard QM2 in December and March-April of 2023 when I’ll be able to greet you after getting to know you via this avenue. Happy planning!

    • Safarigal

      Yes, I am having fun planning our next cruise. Can’t wait to be back on QM2 again, looking forward to meeting you on board 🙂

  3. Christine Hodge

    Thank you Leslie for these fabulous posts. It has been a real treat to follow your adventures and your comprehensive descriptions. We look forward to rejoining one of the Queens.
    We have just returned from 8 days in Fiji, our first time there. Although the Fijian people are beautiful it was far from a favourite holiday. The resorts are too isolated and we got bored, probably good if you are burnt out and just need to lay by the pool.

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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.