Sadly, that's what this cruise turned out to be. We have cruised with Regent previously - our last cruise was from Mumbai to Bali in December 2012. That cruise rated a 9 out of a 10 for us. However, our cruise in 2013 from Istanbul to Dubai did not come close to living up to expectations. At best, the onboard experience was a 5. There were several very disappointing aspects to this cruise, however, the most important was the inequality of pricing. We booked our cruise nearly a year in advance at Regent's brochure rate. This was a big mistake because our cruise was hugely discounted (not on Regent's website, however) once final payment was due. We found out in August that Regent was offering huge discounts - nearly $4000 per person less than what we paid for the same suite, that also included air fare. We also found out, while aboard the vessel, that apparently Regent incurred many cancellations due to the itinerary of our cruise and "sold out" the remaining suites in the UK because, we were told, it's easy to fly from the UK to Istanbul to board the ship. Apparently, suites were sold at 100-150 British Pounds per person per day. We also were told aboard the ship that some of these passengers went to book a future cruise and had no idea of the normal pricing Regent charges. What Regent did was take their loyal passengers who paid full price, and threw them together with people who should not have been cruising with Regent because they had no idea of the quality of the line and what they were getting into - many didn't follow the required dress code in the public areas after 6, several became rowdy and drunk to the point of being unable to walk.
With regard to inclusive wines, some are good and most are mediocre. There is a huge push to have the "red or white" offering of the evening and if you ask for any other inclusive wine, displeasure became apparent. Having said that, the staff is very polite otherwise and tried their best. The service in the Compass Rose rated from excellent to extremely poor. But we do not fault the waiters because we felt they were doing their best under the circumstances - they were either poorly trained or over-burdened. This was a full ship. Sadly, the service was not consistent in the Compass Rose. The food also was inconsistent in quality and preparation in the Compass Rose. The Veranda Cafe at lunch was always excellent with great service no matter how busy they becomes. Prime 7 was excellent.
Entertainment aboard was superb, with particular kudos to the singers and dancers. Enrichment was informative on the subject of the area in which we were traveling, but delivery was quite dull. We could not really understand why quite a large part of the enrichment program was dedicated to the space program while we were traveling through the Middle East.
Shore excursions, for the most part were interesting and well-organized. Petra was outstanding and was the highlight of this 21-day cruise. Actually, we had visited some of the ports previously, and were happy to visit new ports, though some were more interesting than others which is normal. One cannot expect to be mesmerized by every port of call. The shore-ex people onboard did a good job in the organization department and things seemed to run smoothly with regard to our tours.
Finally, in closing, I would like to add that when we boarded and entered our suite I noted immediately that about a foot of the dust ruffle on the bed was torn and hanging out from where the mattress meets the frame. This was corrected immediately. However, several of the clips that hold the sheers and drapes to the rods were missing so huge loops of sheer and drape were hanging out. In 21 days this was not corrected. There were what appeared to be food splatters on the drape between the sitting area and the sleeping area. The woodwork was quite scuffed. (Regent should be aware of an excellent product "Restore-A-Finish" that would do wonders on a worn wood finish in a hurry with little effort and no expertise required.) Clearly the previous attention to detail is lacking and cuts are being made that affect the onboard quality Regent was known for.
In closing it is not a secret that the top management within Regent changed a year ago. The quality of the line, as far as we are concerned, has declined and we hope corrections will be made for the future. We will take a "wait and see" attitude before we book with Regent again.