Best of the Best 2008: Cruise Ships: Queen Victoria

The British monarch who ruled the largest empire in history would no doubt be pleased by the new $522 million ocean liner that the fabled Cunard Line recently christened after her. By any standard, Queen Victoria, known simply as "the QV," is an imposing vessel. With 16 decks, four 2,000-square-foot grand suites, and more than 1,000 staterooms, it offers maritime travelers a formidable array of appealing amenities. "She’s a very impressive craft," says the ship’s captain, Paul Wright, while standing in the vessel’s Grand Lobby during the QV’s Los Angeles debut. "She has a nice, intimate feel about her."

Intimate yet ample. The 2,014-?passenger QV boasts nine restaurants, including a main dining room that occupies two decks and seats 878. Standouts among the 10 bar and club options include the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar and Churchill’s Cigar Lounge, both of which serve their namesake indulgences in elegant environs. The Queen’s Room features a 1,000-square-foot floor for ballroom dancing, while a 13,000-square-foot spa provides a variety of health and wellness options, and a fitness center offers fencing lessons and other activities.

For less strenuous activities, the ship’s three-tiered Royal Court Theatre seats 830 and hosts original dance and theatrical performances. The 6,000-?title library lends reading material to be enjoyed, perhaps, on any of the ship’s numerous sundecks or beneath the retractable roof beside the pavilion pool.

The QV will make Mediterranean, European, Caribbean, and Atlantic voyages, lasting from four to 22 days, over the course of the year. In the Cunard tradition, it will also embark on 105-day global cruises, stopping at many of the exotic locales and ports of call that once made up the imperium of the queen for whom this majestic ship is named. —Bailey S. Barnard

Cunard, 661.753.1000, www.cunard.com

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