From left to right, Cruise Critic memebers SF Bill, his partner Wes, BeachTango, Robb and Cruise Critic Executive Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown
Onboard a bucket list cruise over the next two weeks on Regent Seven Seas’ Voyager, we’ll start at Istanbul and finish up in Egypt’s Safaga by way of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Jordan. The destinations are exotic and the luxury all-suite ship is cozy and plush, but I have to say the highlight so far has been meeting up with Cruise Critic members at our first “official” gathering.
And I am reminded, one more time, of the significance of Cruise Critic’s Roll Call. Because in a strange way, while communicating pretrip on this voyage’s Roll Call, I feel like I already knew some fellow passengers even before I boarded. After all, for months we’d been communicating with folks like SFBill, Robb and BeachTango, among others (we missed a couple of others, like FlyingScotBanker and Diva 5246 but look forward to meeting them on our second Meet & Mingle, during our Suez Canal transit.
Precruise, our Roll Call thread made planning fun, sharing tips and tour advice, offering restaurant booking recommendations and even discussing more personal concerns (we’re still wondering if one member of the trip’s Roll Call thread, whose flight had been canceled because of Hurricane Sandy, has made it onboard). Also appreciated, and some other cruise lines do the same thing, is the fact that Voyager’s cruise director, general manager and social hostess showed up to welcome us all and lend an ear.
By the way, when it comes to introducing passengers to one another, Seven Seas Voyager did the coolest thing I’ve ever seen – on our first night, after sailaway, it held a “block party,” encouraging us all to grab beverage from our cabins and come out into the hallway to meet our neighbors (the captain, general manager and cruise director also wandered through all the hallways, introducing themselves and saying hello). Fabulous.
As ships get larger and less intimate, it’s increasingly difficult to connect, socially, and make new friends onboard in the way that we used to do. And while size-wise, Voyager is by no means in that “larger and more impersonal” category (and its passengers don’t need much help to be sociable), Roll Call matters because it’s an invaluable part of the cruise process. Not just before and during voyages but sometimes, when we really click, it helps us stay in touch after we get home, prolonging the journey.
While, of course, the style of ship you choose is really important, one thing I’ve learned having reviewed ships for Cruise Critic for more than a dozen years, is that in the end, fabulous food, a beautiful ship, a dynamic itinerary, good to great service and a comfortable bed are key components to a happy trip. But it’s always been the people I’ve met along the way (crew as well as passengers) who have elevated a voyage from pretty good to darn fantastic.
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