We were a family group of 20 on the SS Mariner cruise in June 2012. It was not easy finding the right cruise line for us since ages in our group ranged from 2 -80! We finally chose Regent because we trusted it to be a luxury cruse line that would please the elders in our group and yet we hoped it would also offer enough activities and entertainment for the younger crowd. So we boarded in Istanbul, the boarding process went very smoothly and the staff was very helpful and always well-disposed to help in any way needed.
The SUITES are very comfortable and bathrooms (shower only) also well kept. All of the housekeeping employees assigned to our suites were always available and very courteous. We decided to tip them (in spite of tips being included) and found that they were a bit surprised and very thankful. The furnishings are ok, though the carpets are in need of change. The public areas of the ship are all nicely decorated and in perfect condition.
Now as for DINING: there are various venues available and food was quite varied to please everyone;from casual burgers and salads by the pool to excellent a la carte dinners in all 3 restaurants. For Signatures and Prime 7 reservations were required entitling passengers once to dine at each restaurant. It is necessary to make reservations well in advance ( our travel agent did not help much and since we were a large group we were assigned dinner at 6:30 pm which was not what we wanted.) Nevertheless, once on the ship the restaurants concierge really helped to accommodate all of us and we were able to schedule better times and enjoy those dinners. Compass Rose, the main restaurant turned out to be a nice surprise, since it was at the same level of the other two restaurants. The menu changes daily, and there are many options to cater for all guests'dietary needs, all in a sophisticated yet family -friendly ambience. The Veranda which is the buffet restaurant was a more distended option for lunch ann hearty appetites. The quality and variety of the food available throughout the ship well deserves a special mention here. The waiters were also very well trained. Room service proved to be a great option for after-tours.
DRINKS: needless to say, plenty of drinks offered at all times!!! Great poolside bar and waiters.
TOURS : Here comes probably our major complaint about the cruise. Our first destination Kavala, did not have much to offer. We chose a tour " Historic Xanthi" and it was a complete disgrace ( as put by another passenger on our tour.) We drove for about 45 min to walk by a nice , yes, river but nothing spectacular and we were left to walk up a rocky and uncomfortable narrow path. Luckily halfway, we encountered other groups returning who told us it was not worth it to keep going, since the scenery was the same. So we headed back to the bus and then left for a 30 minute ride to Xanthi. There our guide walked us through the little town, and we were all surprised that there was nothing to see there! Just a small church from 1930's I recall and there some of us started to complain. The guide was not responsive, and the representative from Regent who came with us, was completely aloof. Then we were to have 1.5 hours to spend at our leisure there!! and we complained and shortened that to 45 min. There were a few bars open, some of our kids wanted something to eat, and it was past lunch time, so we sat at a bar to realize they were totally unprepared to offer food, even drinks! We asked for diet sodas, they had none!!! After that we were taken AGAIN to a touristy restaurant -house were we sat and tasted a plate of local appetizers. We again complained and finally we headed back to the ship which was another hour's drive. We headed right to the Concierge to explain what had happened and our concern for the rest of the cruise's tours. We found they had already heard about it, and did not even offer an apology. We were appalled by all this, we felt we were treated with little respect. Having experienced all this, we then decided to switch to shorter tours for the following destinations and those were generally good. FITNESS & SPA: few aerobic machines, the spa was ok, nothing great and impossible to schedule appointments. (I think it is because people use the shipboards credit here). Poor manicure and pedicure service.
As for ENTERTAINMENT: it was overall quiet nice, yet we missed most of the shows since we dined late. Bars had good musicians. Unfortunately we realized not many people hang our after dinner and it was a bit awkward to see a only few people at those nice bars. The average age on this cruise was about 60, so we found that entertainment was targeted to an older crowd. There were some families like us since it was already summer. The disco lounge had a jukebox with very old music playing! It is nice to listen to 60's or 70's music but we felt they should improve that and add more up to date music to attract those of us wanting to dance !!!
Finally for disembarkation it was all very well organized and we ended our journey on this cruise and happy with the outcome overall.....