Call me old fashioned, but I prefer to think of a ship birthday as being from the day they entered service, not when they were named. Cunard used to do that, hence QE2 being 21 in 1990 and doing a celebratory round Britain cruise then 35 in 2004 when Queen Mary 2 became flagship. It was only when they planned to sell her they had her 40 in 2007 rather than wait until 2009. That since caused confusion, especially with a 39 foot paying off pennant (well 6 of them) in 2008 and items sold onboard with 1967-2008.
But I digress. The QE2’s replacement has a long history. Queen Victoria was ordered using the same hull and layout as the Holland America Line ships Noordam and her Vista sisters and should have entered service in 2005. She was advertised in the 2004-2005 brochure with advance interest being registered for when they released itineraries.
After the brochure was published, it was announced the mostly built Queen Victoria was being transferred to P&O and became Arcadia, retaining the Cunard funnel and mast. They would be going back to the drawing board to design something more fitting for Cunard. The Vista design was still used as a basic platform but stretched, increasing tonnage from 82,000gt to 90,000gt. Internally several areas were completely changed such as Grand Lobby, inclusion of the Queens Room and Royal Arcade stairs.
She arrived into Southampton on a dry but bitterly cold morning on the 7th December 2007 and named by the Duchess of Cornwall on the 10th.
Hythe and Southampton had a Victoria themed night between 5pm-7pm on the 11th as preparations were underway for the maiden voyage.
Generally, Queen Victoria has remained unchanged during the years. She was the second to add dedicated single cabins in 2015, following Queen Elizabeth. There are only 9 of them tucked away behind the casino. 2012 is an inside while 2002 and 2004 are a different size.
In May 2017 she got the stern cabin addition, which had been rumoured after Arcadia got hers in 2010.
A few things were changed including Chart Room becoming Britannia Club, Cafe Carinthia becoming the new Chart Room and Cunardia shrinking. The nightclub Hemispheres was renamed The Yacht Club.
Considering her Vista roots, she is a superb as a 21st century Cunarder, giving you the wow factor as soon as you step aboard. Anyone who has been on the HALs or Arcadia can see why they went back to the drawing board for Cunard Line and a marvellous job they made of it too.
Happy birthday Queen Victoria. Here’s to many more!