We chose this Regent cruise mainly because of the itinerary, but also to try another smaller cruise ship. Having sailed with Azamara (Quest) twice and Silverseas (Silver Spirit) once, we feel the first Azamara cruise, which was before they became Club Cruises is our preference. The dining areas and menus were more to our liking, although the entertainment was low key. Comfort, service and friendliness of the crew is excellent on all 3 ships.
On Sunday morning before our day of departure from Heathrow we attempted to check in for our BA flight on line. This was not possible as Regent had not supplied us with valid e tickets following our change of plan 2 months previously when we decided against a pre cruise stay in Athens, therefore changing flights. We spent 4 hours desperately 'phoning BA, their ticketing agent and finally, after much trawling through paperwork, an emergency 'out of hours' number for Regent UK office. The ticketing agent saved the day as he recognised our dilemma and went the extra mile to issue the new e tickets. Regent offered $200 on board credit for our trouble. We surely needed a holiday after that as BA had told us earlier we would not be able to fly as things stood! Not a good start.
We arrived in Athens and were transported directly to Voyager in Piraeus. Progressing through the terminal and security prior to boarding was crowded, slow and not conducive to luxury cruising. However once on board we were quickly handed our room card keys and went to the Verandah for a pleasant lunch with plenty of wine! Feeling more relaxed, we ventured to our room, which was as we expected - spacious, comfortable & with a bottle of champagne chilling.
After un packing and freshening up we went off to meet other Cruise Critics prior to dinner. So nice to put faces to names! A very pleasant hour or so spent mingling. Dinner was in Compass Rose and slightly disappointing.
Up early to be served breakfast in our room as an 8am start to go ashore in Santorini. Delayed a while as windy. Very good excursion. Enjoyed Dinner in the Verandah.
We had got into the swing of things, but had noticed all excursion start times were roughly the same and ours were earlier than when we booked and we felt rushed in the mornings. We were on holiday after all. We were told "guests like to be back for lunch" which finished at 2pm. in the restaurants. Why not extend this by an hour? The pool grill was open later, but not everyone enjoys that busy area. We actually cancelled the excursion in Kavala as the start time was 8am, an hour earlier than originally booked and the duration had been extended from 3 hours to 5.5 hours!
The excursion taken in Rhodes was OK but actually we could have easily walked to the Palace and taken a more leisurely tour on our own. We returned to the ship before concluding the trip.
Ephesus was interesting and probably should be rated as more strenuous, as there are a lot of steps in the Terrace Houses and outside where there is no hand rail.
Mykonos was delightful and we would consider returning for a land holiday.
Arriving in Istanbul was impressive! Willie Aames (cruise director) gave an interesting running commentary as the ship approached the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. We sailed a short distance along the Bosphorus in order to view the bridge which links Europe with Asia. After lunch we joined the excursion to the Mosque and Palace. It was a holiday weekend and therefore extremely crowded with long queues, which was unfortunate but also atmospheric.
We dined in Prime 7 on our last evening and were slightly disappointed with the meal.
The on board entertainment was superb, particularly the Cirque Voyager - amazing skill and all while the ship was sailing in very strong wind!!
Disembarkation was smooth as was the transfer to the Ritz Carlton. Check in there was fine and we enjoyed complimentary coffee in the lobby overlooking the Bosphorus, whilst our room was prepared.
The view from our huge and comfortable room was great. It is at this point that we realised how a cruise ship spoils you. Food and drink available 24/7 and no bill!! In the Ritz, 2 after dinner coffees - Â£10.00.
A big thank you to the Captain and crew for providing an excellent service.
So was the cruise good value for money? A resounding YES. Would we go again? YES.