We had long talked about booking a cruise, and spent a lot of time researching the different options and itineraries. As we have stayed with Regent Hotels before and we had read a lot if good things about Regent Seven Seas, when we this cruise, the Red Sea Odyssey, from Istanbul to Dubai, we thought it was a good choice. The cruise was very expensive and was the most expensive holiday we have ever booked. However, as it was for a special anniversary we thought it was worth it, giving that it was 6* all-inclusive luxury.
I regret to say we found the entire experience very disappointing and got off the cruise after only 4 days on board.
We flew to Istanbul and stayed overnight at the excellent Intercontinental - the staff and rooms were both very good and we very much enjoyed our short stay. We were transferred to the port, which was not very salubrious and consisted of a number of rundown buildings. Check-in was ok, and after we queued up and collected our room keys we went through passport control, and saw the ship. No one was around to show us where to go, so we just made our way up the ramp. We were met by a security man who swiped our keys, and were then met by a Stewardess holding a tray of champagne glasses with a dribble of champagne in each - I could not help but think 'why bother?'.
There were no directions as to what to do and we just wondered around for a while, until I heard someone say let's go up to deck 11. We went up in deck and saw that quite a number of guests were already there and helping themselves to a buffet lunch. Again there was no one around to explain what we did so we just found a table and sat down. I went up to the buffet and tried to order some food but did not know my table number - again no explanation. The food was ok, but staff were not particularly warm and just kept saying 'do you want a drink?'.
We made our way to our Penthouse Suite which was towards the rear of deck 9. The 'suite' was very compact and bijoux, and was not really a suite at all - the bed area was curtained off from a very small seating area, and there was a good sized bathroom (rather dated but clean) and a roomy walk-in closet. The balcony was very small and quite rundown looking. The suite had not been laid up as requested - two single beds and not a double bed, blankets not duvets etc. The soap dishes were hanging off the wall in the shower, and the shower was very slow to run away and overflowed.
We could not turn off the air conditioning and hence we found it very hard to sleep at night. The cabin also vibrated very badly and sitting on the chair it felt like a massage chair. We spoke to staff about the problems and despite various people coming and going nothing was really resolved, although they did manage to re screw the soap dishes to the wall.
Dining on board the ship was ok, although the food was quite repetitive, especially in Compass Rose, the main restaurant. This restaurant was very busy as it seats over 500, and was consequently very noisy. This may not be a problem for many but is not my idea of 6* luxury.
The excursions we did manage to make were of very poor quality on old clapped out coaches with very poor itineraries. The guides were ok, but as both excursions were in Greece all we heard about was how bad things were for the Greeks, whilst being driven around rundown, vandalised, rubbish filled areas.
By the fourth night we both felt really unwell due to the lack of sleep and I asked to move cabins. I was shown a suite on a lower floor but it was vibrating and swaying just as much as ours as it was only a little more forward. We spent a very bad night and despite my partner taking motion sickness medication, he felt worse.
I spoke with both the Chief Concierge and the General Manager on the ship and expressed our concern and disappointment and how ill my partner felt, but there was no offer of any medical assistance and I felt very worried about staying on board so after much soul searching we decided to disembark. Out of courtesy I let the ship know and instead of them trying to stop us, and help us the response was 'Oh, ok then'. Within minutes of me letting them know were were inundated with demands to go to Immigration within 10 minutes with all our luggage - we weren't even packed! So when I refused I was told we could make an appointment to go later that morning. When we got off the ship, after a mix with porterage, there was no one to meet us and we had to go back on shop and ask for help! No one from the ship was there to see us off and in my opinion they could not have cared less.
The cruise was billed as ultra all inclusive 6* luxury and for what we paid - the price of a brand new family car - it simply was not worth it. We realise this was our first cruise, and thus we have nothing to compare it to, but on the basis of this cruise we would be by unlikely to cruise again.