We sailed with Regent on Seven Seas Voyager from Istanbul to Dubai over 21 nights. We booked and paid for a concierge level cabin and selected cabin 741 from the deck plans as we felt that, being midship and not too high, it would be more stable than some other cabins. After an absolute comedy of errors involving our booking disappearing completely, amongst other things, we finally boarded at Istanbul. We were greeted on board by a steward with a dribble of sparkling wine (champagne?) and then left to find our own way to our cabin, which was not overly difficult.
The cabin was small but adequate, with sitting area, bedroom area, bathroom, small verahdah/balcony, and large closet. It was not a stateroom, it was a cabin, and calling it a stateroom was misleading. We noted that the concierge level amenities (coffee machine, binoculars, pashmina etc) were not present but presumed, from reading other literature in the cabin, that the coffee machine was not there because of safety concerns. It was only on day 10 or 11, when we went looking for the binoculars, that we realized that everything else was missing. On enquiring at reception, we were told that our cabin had been downgraded to deluxe, and we were not entitled to concierge amenities. Hmm...we had already had NUMEROUS problems with our booking, largely caused by Regent's complete inability and/or refusal to COMMUNICATE with their clients, and now we discover that we have been DOWNGRADED with not so much as a whisper!!!!!!!!!!!!! After proving to reception that we had indeed booked and paid for a concierge level cabin, and asking the following day as to what was happening, the missing amenities appeared the next afternoon with no explanation, no apology, nothing.....!!! Nor were we ever offered a change of cabin up to concierge level. So if you are looking for a cruise line which cares and communicates, the Regent is probably not for you.
The included excursions were basic but acceptable, as the ports were all on minor Greek islands (except for Rhodes), or minor Arabian ports, with not a whole lot to offer anyway. The guides which we had were local and knowledgeable and all spoke good, comprehensible English. The excursions which we wanted to do and which offered the most interesting locations were all charged as extras - no surprises there. We originally booked to go to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, but due to the political upheaval in Egypt these were cancelled and other ports were added and/or rescheduled. This rescheduling caused havoc with our pre booked and paid for excursions, and once again Regent FAILED to COMMUNICATE with us (or with any passengers) as to what was happening and/or what options they could offer for the new ports/dates. They also told us quite categorically that we were not booked on any of these excursions and once again I had to provide proof of our bookings. Our TA was next to useless as she disappeared for 3 weeks to do a French river cruise, then disappeared again later in the process, and Regent's agents in Sydney (Wiltrans) were also very NON COMMUNICATIVE and UNHELPFUL when we had major issues which needed sorting out.
Our cabin had, as expected, quite a bit of the vibration we had been warned about, and regularly STANK of either diesel fumes or cigarette smoke or both. Someone near our cabin was obviously smoking but we were never able to pinpoint where it came from. But the heavy, overpowering stench of the diesel was really annoying and caused my asthma to play up whenever we were in the cabin. Leaving the verhandah door open alleviated the smell somewhat, but there is a ventilation/air intake problem with the air conditioning if this smell is permeating into cabins via the air conditioning. As to the vibrations, it is obvious that there is something intrinsically wrong with Voyager's engines, as no other vessel we have ever sailed on has anything like this vibration.
The food was nice without being 6 star and the menus in Compass Rose bore a boring similarity to each other after about 5 days. We ate at La Verahda/Sette Mare several times to alleviate the monotony. Signatures and Prime 7 both had good menus and good meals, however the service at Prime 7 left a lot to be desired. We had a 7pm reservation and it was obvious that they wanted the table again for 8 or 8.30 as they were preparing our main course by 7.40pm. When I objected and told the steward that we did not want our main until at least 8pm, it obviously caused him a problem. He stalked off the the Maitre d' and, after much gesticulating our way and tapping of watches, the Maitre d' came to us and apologised and assured us that we should not hurry (as if we were ever going to hurry anyway!!!). As it was, there were still several unused tables in the restaurant the whole night, and they were still unused when we left at 9.30pm.
The service staff in all areas were amazing. Housekeeping, bar stewards, wait staff, cleaners, everyone was absolutely top notch, caring, polite, pleasant and nothing was ever too much trouble for them. Reception and Destination Services were coldly polite and generally uninterested especially when we had problems. We asked for binoculars on one day and were told that a pair would be sent up immediately. 24 hours later we approached reception and asked what had happened and why we had not received them, and that's when we were told that we were not in a concierge suite. We can't understand why reception did not simply ring us back and advise us that there was a mistake and that they were unable to provide binoculars - another example of Regents FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise, however we did not appreciate Regent's lack of communication on many, many issues relating to itinerary changes. We did not like being informed that our cabin was downgraded and we feel that we have certainly received a lot less than what we paid for and expected. We have, thus far, received no response from Regent to our queries and to be quite honest, we don't expect them to bother replying.
I know that there are many other cruise lines which provide the same type of service which Regent claims to provide so we will be investigating them further for the future. After the poor booking experience and the APPARENTLY DELIBERATE lack of communication by Regent, we would never even consider sailing with them again. Given that we were close to being the youngest passengers on the boat by at least 10 years, and that we can obviously afford to cruise in the style Regent offers (but does not provide), I would suggest that Regent needs a wake up call if they wish to attract our demographic. We have many more years of cruising ahead of us but they won't be with Regent. Unfortunately I feel that Regent are resting on some fairly ancient laurels and getting by on a past reputation.