Seven Seas Voyager Cruise Review by beachtango: Wowed by Mideast cruise and post-cruise tour to Egypt
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Wowed by Mideast cruise and post-cruise tour to Egypt
We cruised from Venice to Monte Carlo on Mariner last spring and had a pretty good experience. When we found this amazing 14-day itinerary from Istanbul to Luxor with an included post-cruise tour of Egypt we decided to give Regent a chance to wow us and they delivered on every level.
Overall we thought the service level had been kicked up a notch from Mariner and the staff were warm, attentive, and reliable. Several staff members used our names consistently, something that really makes a difference to us. The food was very good. Sette Mari is a nice alternative to Compass Rose and we also enjoyed Signatures and Prime Seven. Coffee Connection and the Pool Grill both shined.
Lissan kept our suite spotless, Nyoman was very attentive in Compass Rose, and Umberto did an A-plus job leading LaVeranda/Sette Mari. (After long tiring excursions, Umberto waited at the gangplank to let all guests know they could come right up for dinner without a need to change clothes More first.)
There was just one challenge: we had booked a Penthouse C (783) and found it impossible to sleep in due to the engine noise and vibration. After leaving a message for the GM, we were called by the concierge who offered a midship cabin (738) with our amenities transferred to the new room. This new cabin location was excellent for us and we settled in happily the next morning.
We had a wide variety of ports and excursions and a few last-minute changes due to politics and upheaval (port calls in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh were cancelled). Our guides in Rhodes, Jerusalem and Petra were misinformed about the details of the tours and required re-orientation from the guests. Overall tours were good and we think Masada, Petra, Jerusalem and Egypt should be seen in every traveler's lifetime.
Regent did a superb job with the arrangements for the post-cruise tour of Luxor and Cairo. I'm guessing that at least 300 passengers participated in the tour and the logistics were very complex. We never once waited in line for anything. Each bus had an Egyptologist (we were lucky to be part of the Isis group under the leadership of Mohamed Shehata Ali, who is so bright and charming) and hotel check-in, luggage, meals, entrance to sights and airport transfers were all managed with great finesse.
On the ground in Egypt, there was no reason to ever feel threatened. Mohamed prepared us to deal with pushy vendors (we quickly learned to say "laa shukran - no thank you" in Arabic), monitored our comfort and helped us understand the amazing things we saw in the city, the countryside, and at the ancient sites.
The Egyptian people we encountered were very friendly and the kids are delightful and want to practice their English. The Semiramis Intercontinental is right next door to Tahrir Square and we did witness small demonstrations but never felt unsafe. If Egypt is a destination that appeals to you, monitor the situation and understand that unrest has been confined to small pockets in the city. You will be well rewarded when you visit.
For those who are curious, here is a slideshow (11:09) from our cruise and tour:
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