We took advantage of the perks that sailing with Regent gives you, upgrades to Business Class airfare, being able to deviate the flights to suit us and going on both the pre- and post-cruise land trips offered. Unfortunately when we were making our flight arrangements Regent didn't have the flight schedules for our post-cruise tour correct and didn't tell us that. About a month before our trip we were told our flights had to change and not for the better. The Regent staff tried hard to help us but options are few out of Bangkok so we didn't have the best flight schedule back and it cost us money to change flights from Vancouver to our home as well as to stay over an extra night in Vancouver. We went a day early to add a private tour to the terracotta warriors. Flight went smoothly and Business Class makes the long flight much easier to handle.
Pre-cruise land package in Beijing
After arriving back in Beijing, we checked into the China World Hotel. Beautiful hotel, our room was very nice and the daily breakfast buffet was great with lots of variety. The hotel is located above a huge underground shopping centre so we had options for the 1 dinner we were on our own for. Our tour guide was excellent. The buses were regular greyhound size with about 30 of us on our bus so lots of room and not too crowded. All the sites we saw were fascinating - Great Wall, Ming tomb, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
A number of buses arrived at the port at the same time but after a short wait on the bus the rest of the embarkation process went quickly and easily. Being greeted by smiling faces and a glass of champagne as we boarded are only 2 of the reasons we love sailing with Regent. Shortly after arriving at our suite our cabin steward & stewardess came by and introduced themselves and checked to see if we needed anything. Throughout the cruise they did an excellent job, were friendly and helpful. Our luggage arrived shortly so with the help of a glass of champagne we got the bags unpacked and all settled in. Love the standard suite on Voyager.
One of the things I learned from CC was how to score extra reservations in the specialty restaurants. We managed to dine in Prime 7 and Signatures at least a couple of times each. On all occasions our food and service were excellent. We actually only ate in the main dining room a couple of times. The first time was the night of the Captain's reception and the food and service left something to be desired. Very busy night so forgivable. I did mention it on our mid-cruise evaluation form and received a call from the executive chef apologizing and hoping that everything was great since then and to contact him if need be. We had no other issues in any of the venues. The rest of our dinner meals were in Sette Mari which we really liked. The service and the food was great. My recommendation to ensure you are seated quickly you arrive before 7 or 7:15 pm.
For breakfast we had room service or ate in MDR. We did try La Verandah once for breakfast but decided it really wasn't our thing. Service and the food for breakfast were both very good. Lunch when we were on board was mostly out at the Pool grill either enjoying burgers and salad or the special pool luncheons offered. I loved their tuna burger and highly recommend that. Again the food and service were great.
Lounges and Entertainment
We don't cruise for the entertainment and rarely attend the performances except for the occasional featured performer. We went to one cruise staff performance and that was enough for us. Not bad but not our cup of tea. We generally went for a before dinner drink and for the most part the service was good. Occasionally in Horizon's Lounge when we joined others it took awhile for them to take our order. This may not be entertainment but will mention here in order to decrease the categories. The NPR speakers and the guest lecturer were excellent and really added to the enjoyment of the cruise and in particular the various countries and ports.
We took all Regent tours, 2 of the paid ones and all the rest the 'free' ones. The ones we took part in were well done and the buses were not full so they didn't feel crowded. Our favorites were the Ha Long Bay boat cruise, Mekong Delta boat tour and the trip to the Imperial Palace in Bangkok. We had really good tour guides on all our tours. I know on the boards there seems to be constant complaining about the included excursions but we enjoyed all of ours. My complaint is not with the tours but with Destination Services. When we had a couple of days cancelled because of propulsion issues (more on that to follow) and I went to see them about our excursions, I was treated very rudely by one of the staff. I mentioned this in the evaluation forms and unlike the executive chef I never heard a word from them, no apologies or even any questions about what happened.
Post- cruise land tour
The flights could have been handled better. After an early morning exit from the ship, we got to the airport and was deserted by the tour staff person to find our own way to the check-in area and handle the check-in process. Buses that came after us were guided to check-ins that were opened for our group, too late for us as we were in the middle of a large line by then and would have had to start over again at the back of the line. Our flight schedule was screwed up and we discovered when we got there we were supposed to be on the later flight. Luckily the airline staff person was able to change us to the early flight. The tour guide we had was fabulous and the tours wonderful. The only blip was the number of people on the buses were not even out so we had a bus full while other buses were only a 1/3 to 1/2 full. Organization by the local tour organization was not the best but the trip was still very worthwhile. The people in Cambodia are fantastic and the sites fascinating. Our flights back to Bangkok were changed from our original schedule but were straightened out in advance so no big deal.
The downside to the cruise
As mentioned above we had propulsion issues. On our way to Shanghai we lost some of our propulsion. The story we were fed was that we ran into some cold water and it caused a problem. I am sorry but that sounds like a load of nonsense. What happens when they go to northern Europe? Do they do everything at half speed? Nonsense. The ship had propulsion problems on an earlier cruise and I believe it wasn't totally fixed but they didn't mention that or any possible connection to our problems. We ended up losing our first day tours in Shanghai and missed our stop in Xiamen. They gave us a later departure in Shanghai but from my perspective that was nothing. Now this is probably the only time we will be in that part of the world so it was very disappointing to miss out on these opportunities. Stuff happens but I don't appreciate being misled with no offer of compensation however minor for losing some of our tours. We had 9 days in port and lost almost 2 of the 9, to me that is significant.
Downside to Voyager
I have done a number of cruises and generally work out every sea day and sometimes on port days. I used the fitness room maybe twice because it is pretty small and crowded most days. Otherwise I love the ship and its size.
We enjoyed the cruise immensely and did take advantage of their deposit program to secure savings on a future cruise. The downsides were not major enough to put us off Regent but it did tarnish my opinion of the company.