We returned from our Baltic Cruise on the Seven Seas Voyager August 19th and, although I am a bit jetlagged, I feel it is important to write my review while the cruise is still fresh in my mind.
Prior to the cruise we spent two nights in Copenhagen. Reviews of the Radisson SAS Royal vary, but we enjoyed the hotel & especially the amazing location. Tivoli Gardens is across the street, Stroget (the shopping area) is close by and there is even a supermarket next door. Guests of the hotel can also use the large, modern gym next door at no charge. No complaints here!
Embarkation was fast and efficient. Suites were ready approximately 3:00 p.m. Due to weather, they were serving lunch at La Veranda while we waited.
First let me say that we enjoyed the cruise tremendously and that the Seven Seas Voyager is a beautiful ship - albeit in serious need of refurbishment (more on this later). This was our second Regent cruise; the first being the Paul Gauguin in 2004 so there may be a tendency to compare this ship with the PG.
We took Regent up on the offer to pay a "nominal" amount to upgrade from deck six to a Penthouse A suite mid-ship on deck 10. Although only 15 square feet larger than the other suites, the layout makes it appear quite a bit larger. Our butler was quite nice, however, we personally would not recommend paying a lot of extra money for the butler. Breakfast was set up in our suite beautifully each morning. I suspect that, it would have been set up just as nicely if we did not have a butler. The service from our Stewardess, Ginalyn, was excellent. We booked reservations at the two reservation only restaurants online. Our take on the restaurants is a bit different than I have read in previous posts.
Lattitudes has received some poor ratings on the boards but we found it to be excellent. The service surpassed that of any other restaurant on board. They had a way of adding a touch of humor along with impeccable service. The food was incredible. People who are not into Asian cuisine may find some of their flavors a bit unusual for their palates but we savored every morsel. The chef went to each table after the meal to inquire as to how the meal was. This was a nice touch. After telling him how much we enjoyed the food, he offered to give us the recipes (they arrived in our cabin two days later). I cannot say enough about this fine dining experience.
Signatures was also excellent but that is what we expected it to be. We dined here on a night when the ship was docked and the view from Signatures was of the not so attractive dock. I did not find the ambiance to be as nice as Lattitudes.
Compass Rose did a really good job but was a bit inconsistent in terms of quality. One night my husband had to return his very tough steak. The same night the pasta in the lasagna was extremely undercooked (not al dente it was really undercooked). We had lunch there on our last day and wished that we had done so earlier. The meals that were good were really exceptional. The service was perfection.
La Veranda - we had difficulty with both the quality of the food and the service. This restaurant is not consistently bad or good but, for lunch, it was only -average. The first two days we had lunch at La Veranda, the service was particularly invisible. Perhaps we are spoiled in terms of having our plates carried for us (when they are not busy), but we were basically ignored. There was an improvement on subsequent days.
On our last evening we had dined at La Veranda and found it to be extremely good. The desserts were particularly yummy. As a side note, La Veranda has the strongest vibration on the ship.
A word about desserts &..with the exception of the desserts at La Veranda and the dessert at Signatures, we found the desserts to lack both flavor and creativity. We wonder if the pastry chef may be different for La Veranda than Compass Rose.
The infamous "Voyager vibration" was not as noticeable to me as to my husband. Perhaps I just expect to feel movement and vibration on a vessel that is on the water.
Entertainment on the Voyager was fabulous, particularly on the night when they had local Russian dancers and singers. It exceeded any onboard entertainment we have seen.
Regent provided shuttle service in Tallinn and Stockholm. This made it very convenient for the passengers. Unfortunately, in Stockholm, there were at least 50 passengers wandering around looking for the shuttle bus for approximately a half an hour. We felt that Regent should have had provided some organization and direction.
We used a private tour company for our St. Petersburg tours and were extremely happy that we did so. It was not unusual to see 20-30 buses in the parking lots of the most popular tourist attractions (particularly Hermitage and Catherine's Palace). The waiting lines were incredibly long.
Lastly, I need to voice an honest opinion on the condition of the ship. The carpets in most public areas are extremely stained. I am not saying that they are dirty because the ship is kept very clean. The stains almost look like huge water spots and appear everywhere. Most of the furniture (chairs, sofas, etc.) are very worn and need replacing. The bed was not uncomfortable but was very worn out. When the bed is made it looks lumpy as if the mattress has taken on the shapes of the thousands of people that have lain on it. The ship is going into dry dock in November but there is no excuse for Regent to have permitted this beautiful ship to deteriorate to this level.
An August 2006 review of the Navigator indicates that it's condition is even worse than the Voyager and, in fact, Regent had to start installing carpeting while at sea. We are scheduled to cruise on the Navigator in April, 2007 and believe it, as well as the Voyager, will be in tip top shape. It is truly a shame that many people will have to put up with the current conditions for the next few months.