We have just returned from the Regent Seven Seas Pathway to Antiquity Cruise (Oct 30 to Nov.14th). We also did the pre and post land packages offered by the cruise line extending the trip 3 days at each end.
We found the trip to be what people describe as a 'trip of a lifetime'. Everything was so well organized from beginning to end.
The room was a lot bigger than we had anticipated. Others had mentioned that you don't need a big room since you only sleep in it. True enough but it was lovely having a walk in closet, separate bath and huge shower and sitting area. Every suite had a balcony.
The staff was professional and friendly, always willing to help if you needed it.
The excursions that were offered ranged from full 10 hours to short ones of 3 hours. There were normally a range of tours from "stay close to the bus" type for people with mobility problems to hiking up mountains to ancient ruins on little winding paths. All of our daily excursions were included in the cruise price except for one that we opted to take. We had meals with all of the longer tours. At Ephesus we picked the excursion that included the recently opened Terrace Houses. They are normally an add-on to the daily entrance fee for visitors, but it was included for us. It was a real highlight of the day.
Regent's excursion staff is so well organized. We were very happy with how the excursions set off every morning with bus allocations, water bottles available etc. I am an organized person and I was impressed! Our visit to Cairo had to be changed as Egyptians were planning demonstrations in Cairo the day of our visit. We arrived in our room to find a notice on our bed with a choice to make. Did we want to go to Cairo the next day a Thursday rather than as scheduled one on Friday? We would give up our Thursday Alexandria day but we were happy to do that. All we had to do was say check a box and drop it off at the Destinations Counter. A few hours later our new tickets for Cairo were at our door.
The trip to Cairo was fun. The buses headed off and soon got caught in a traffic snarl where road work was being done. That slowed us down a lot but we continued to the pyramids, a late lunch and a papyrus shop. The return trip was slowed down with a very unusual heavy rain and lightning storm causing traffic to slow down. But we loved it. We arrived back at the ship about 2 hours late and were very surprised to find a lot of staff including the Captain, the Cruise director, and one of the performers on the dock welcoming us back. They assured us that dinner was held for us and to just shove our stuff in our rooms and head up to eat.
We had the choice to do the pre-cruise Turkey land portion with a flight to Cappadocia -- Land of the Fairy Chimneys from Istanbul before boarding the cruise ship. We stayed at the Cappadocia Cave Resort and Spa which was previously cave dwellings. From our patio area we had views of the entire valley including all the balloons that were rising at sunrise for their flight. At one time there were 77 in the air. This pre-cruise trip was so worthwhile and yes it did cost extra. The land there is very different with cave dwellings, unusual valleys full of odd land formations, a valley of churches cut into the rock and an underground city inhabited from 8th- 7th century B.C. We flew back to Istanbul and did Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, lunch and the grand bazaar before boarding the ship.
Our post cruise land portion was included in the cruise fee if you wanted to spend the extra days doing that. Not every did as a lot were continuing on to the next cruise and I guess some people had to get back to work. The post cruise was 1 Â½ days extra in Luxor including a caravan of buses crossing the eastern dessert and a stay at a very deluxe hotel. Here we did the Valley of the Kings and the Temples of Luxor and Karnak. We were then off on a flight to Cairo and for us another visit to the pyramids and another super hotel. Both our visits to Cairo were very different as we had a different Egyptologist with us on each trip. The one that we had for the post cruise we really got to know as she stayed at the hotels with us and did lead the excursions for the 3 days. We enjoyed them both and got a very good feel as to what it is like to live in Cairo now and as a pharaoh.
The food on the ship was tremendous; there were no buffet dinners in any of the restaurants. They did offer though two buffet options in one of the restaurants (and only if you wanted that specifically)on two nights the rest of the guests there ordered off the menu. The best thing is they don't have fixed seating times for dinners or particular tables of people that you always have to eat with. You have your choice of eating by yourselves or joining a table of 4 or a table of 6. We ate alone twice and the rest of the evenings we shared tables with others. We loved getting to talk with people from around the world. You got to know so many people by name that you could chat with on excursions etc. There were so many interesting and knowledgeable travellers with a lot of advice about places to visit.