We embarked Voyager in Southampton and received a warm welcome "back home", from the crew, many of whom we have sailed with, numerous times.
Following a splendid lunch in La Veranda we went to our suite to find our luggage waiting for us. We cannot settle until everything is in its rightful place and the suitcases stowed. Our delightful stewardess Rihana introduced herself and we thanked her for the immaculate preparation of our suite. The beautiful flower arrangement took centre stage on the coffee table but there was still enough room for the champagne bucket containing a well chilled bottle of Veurve, what a contrast to our disastrous cruise on the Seabourn Quest in January.
With everything organised we retired to the pool bar for the sail-a-way party and the start of our 21 night adventure.
Prime 7 was our dining venue and we shared a table with a delightful couple from California. The steaks were outstanding and the service from our waiter August was perfect. After dinner we enjoyed listening to the trio in the Voyager lounge. The guys are very talented musicians with great personalities. As Captain Gianmario drove us down to our first port of call St. Malo we enjoyed a wonderful nights sleep. Having sailed on the Quest in January, the Crystal Serenity in June and the Seabourn Spirit in August we found ourselves comparing the beds, pillows and bedding on those three ships with the Regent offerings. Without doubt Regent wins hands down.
The port intensive nature of the cruise found us participating in a number of tours. Every tour was well managed but we did find ourselves waiting in the theatre until our bus number was called. The all inclusive tour concept Regent has adopted does have its down side. With most guests opting to take advantage of doing tours, tests the logistics especially when we were tendered into certain ports.
Although the weather was not perfect the sea conditions in the Bay of Biscay were great. Having opted for a mid ship stateroom on deck six we felt very little ship movement throughout the whole cruise.
It has always amazed me that Marine architects and designers locate the largest and most expensive suites in the bow or stern positions on cruise ships. Somebody share with them that bow thrusters and anchor chains are not designed to give guests early morning wake up calls.
Fortunately for us, it was only by opening the curtains did we know that we had arrived at our next port.
I read with interest that one of our fellow guests thought that the acoustic qualities of the stateroom partition walls was not as good as he experienced on the Seabourn Odyssey and Sojourn. As an engineer he probably has very good reasons to make this observation. In our experience on board the Quest, Serenity, Spirit and Voyager this year the acoustic values of the partition walls are severely tested by guests who do not care about their neighbours.
The cuisine on Voyager was excellent in every restaurant and served on very, very hot plates. This is something we insist upon no matter which cruise line we sail with.
Sette Marie in La Veranda proved to be incredibly popular and justifiably so. The only complaint we had was based around a poor quality Ministrone soup. Chef Jonathon was made aware of this complaint and called us the following day to advise us that he had followed up with the Sette Marie chef and reviewed the recipe. We tried it again a few days later and it was excellent. As that was my only complaint during the whole cruise speaks volumes about the quality of the ingredients Regent are buying and the skills of the culinary team on board.
Given the nature of the cruise itinerary it was a pity that first time Regent cruisers did not experience the dinner deck barbecues Regent do so very well.
The entertainment throughout the cruise was good. However, I still do not know why Jean Ann Ryan, the producer of the main shows, interrupts the flow of each show with aerialists. I appreciate that it is different to the entertainment on other cruise lines, but I find it just does not work. We all respect the skills and strength of the aerialists and if she gave them a Cirque show set to the Beatles or Abba music it would be well received.
My 60th birthday celebration was outstanding and well orchestrated by my wife, our stewardess, Laura (the ships social hostess) and Franck (general manager). It was certainly a night to remember.
Our children aged 33 & 34 joined us for the last seven days of our cruise in Barcelona and they brought excellent weather with them. The sun brought our fellow guests out and it was great to see the pool area used to its fullest. The sunbeds on Regent are the best. The padded cushions on the sun loungers really make a difference it is a pity that Crystal and Seabourn do not consider guest comfort as an important issue. The padded circular double sunbeds were comfortable on the Serenity but as I am 6'0" tall I had to use a coffee table covered with a towel to put my feet on.
Alas, every cruise had to come to an end and so we said our sad goodbyes but promised to return next year. Can't wait.