Seven Seas Mariner Cruise Review by Susquehanna303: Skip This One
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Ports & related excursions were by-in-large extremely poor. Don't go on this cruise if you are counting on wonderful shore experiences UNLESS you are prepared to go off on your own. A big mistake was taking the excursions.
We embarked from Buenos Aires; excellent nite at the Tango with outstanding dinner. Arranged by Regent so one A grade here, but extremely disorganized in getting folks on the right shuttle vans to the right venues. You'll need to be proactive to find your way. Next day boarding ship delayed by an explosion in the port which closed it down for 6 hrs. Sheraton Hotel was amazing in providing a wonderful buffet for about 500 people in less than 2 hrs.
Next port was Montevideo - great walking tour but one could see more on your own with a good map. Oh, Regent provides absolutely NO MAPS - very strange, so come prepared with maps of the various ports in hand. Will be extremely helpful for you. And Regent does not do destination lectures prior to coming More into ports and little good or reliable information in their publications the day before. So do your homework before traveling.
Next port was Punta del Este - beautiful, upscale resort community. Tour fairly good; some guidance with a map or information from the tour guide would have been helpful to enhance the on-your-own lunch/shopping break.
From hereon, everything went downhill. Next port was Rio Grande; we arrived on a Sunday and the whole town -- yes everything, including the churches after services -- were closed down. Oh, the supermarkets were open so you could buy coffee. Oceanographic museum was a cab ride away Be careful in Brasil with cabfares. Even with negotiating the fares upfront, the drivers still charge MORE upon arrival at your destination. BEWARE of this prevalent practice. Again, with a little more forward planning on the cruiseline's part and/or with more information, we could have had a much more enjoyable day doing something different, like just going to the beach.
Port of Porto Belo ended up being the tour to nowhere. 1 1/2 hr standing at the port waiting for the morning tours to return (they were delayed because of weather), we finally boarded the tour bus; then 2 hrs on the bus to a cable car, which was closed down due to high winds when we got there (granted, no fault of Seven Seas); then no way to get over to the beach area (which was supposed to be beautiful); so re-boarded the bus to return to the ship. A little advance planning and communication between the venues and tour operators perhaps could have diverted an otherwise totally wasted day.
Lack of information or wrong information given to passengers by the cruiseline was deplorable. I'm not alone in voicing this complaint. Everyone we spoke with felt this way.
Next port was Santos. We took the 4-hr excursion "Highlights of Santos". Guide was extremely disorganized and, quite frankly, everyone wondered if she had any experience at all in escorting a group. The description of the tour was not the reality. We ended up going to an Orchid Museum (no orchids were in blown during the time we were there) with a corresponding zoo -- but most exhibits were under construction or closed down. This destination was not on the itinerary. Then we went to the Santos Football Club. Again, not on the tour description. We were rushed thru and most of us weren't interested in soccer anyway. No time to actually even see the stadium. Then onto the Coffee Museum, which was OK. Another "beware" - prices in the gift shop extremely high and one woman's credit card was charged $350 instead of $35 US and when she noticed it, the museum would not cancel the transaction. Again, very strange at an otherwise frequently visited tour site. (Upon calling her credit card company after returning to the ship, the charge was cancelled by the credit card company.) This excursion was long, boring, and much driving time on the bus. Overwhelming, passengers were disappointed.
Next port was Ilha Grande, an ecological preserve; no tours. Take a boat taxi to one of the wonderful beaches and you'll have a nice day. Walks in the tropical rainforest not feasible in December due to the extremely high humidity; you'll drop from heat exhaustion. Ship does not provide any information about getting around the island, so again, prepare myself ahead of time.
Next port was Buzios -- OK for shopping; take a trolley tour around the peninsula; beaches fabulous but you have to find your way to them.
Next port was Rio and my traveling mate got sick, so didn't get a chance to see much of this wonderful city. Was at a local medical clinic most of the day. OK, so those are the ports.
The ship itself: no lectures to speak of; only 2 by the same person over the 10 days. Delivery poor; content remedial at best; and at times the speaker was actual rude to the audience. Regent gets a D- for this aspect.
Food: in Compass Rose sometimes an A; sometimes a C. Prime Restaurant: our steaks were supermarket ordinary. Didn't have a chance to try Signatures. LaTravena is a great bet. Service by all staff on the Regent was excellent throughout.
Stateroom was very good, too. Balconies small but it's a small ship so to be expected. If you like to play the slots a bit on a cruise, it was just a funny place. Machines out of 1950; some worked; some didn't. Most had glitches. Puzzling why a ship would give up the space for a casino (even a small space) and not have new or at least working machines.
Entertainment provided by Playbill was absolutely extraordinary. We were part of the Playbill tour. Amazing Broadway talent; excellent Playbill staff; extremely well organized. Lewis Black and many other well known Broadway names. Many of the performances were available to the whole ship. I'm sure many regular passengers did not realize that the star performances were there only because of the Playbill entertainment. Otherwise, the regular Regent Seven Seas singers & dancers were rather sad. Orchestra very talented and saved the day. Special performances, such as the acrobatic performers - great! -- and the guest violinists - great!
In summary, there were some highlights, for sure, but the disappointments far outweighed the sterling moments. I'd advise staying away from these particular destinations; don't except a spectacular food experience on the Mariner, except they have an amazing pastry chef. Wines just OK, given the wonderful regions we were traveling through. Liquor is included in the price of the cruise and a good selection of high-end brands does flow freely. Overall, in speaking with many passenger, folks were disappointed in this cruise and many saying it was their last time with Seven Seas. I wouldn't go that far, but certainly would look for another itinerary and would only travel with the Playbill entertainment group. They were FABULOUS in every respect. Less
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