Regent Seven Seas Mariner cruise starting 12/20/13
Cruising in South America and particularly in Brazil in December is very taxing...it is their summer and it can be very HOT. While we were in Rio de Janeiro the temperature was 94 at night to 102 each day. Also, beach ports like Ihla Grande do not have air conditioned shops so even shopping because a real sweat (pun intended).
If we ever return it will be in their winter, our summer, when the weather is in the 70s and 80s.
Regent is for wealthy, older people who love to eat and drink and are more into the luxury cruise experience than the travel experience. If you are into excellent beef items you will love this cruise. If you are into fish and chicken your experience will not be so positive. The quality of the tours varied by location. The best one we took was one for which we paid a handsome extra price in Sao Palo.
One more thing our Regency Cruise Consultant, Sonda Coda, while helpful in most areas was misinformed about the evening dress code on the ship. Whereas, she told us the dress code including New Year’s Eve was elegant casual, for the most part that did not accurately describe how most of the passengers dressed which was cocktail/semi-formal for women and sport coats and suits with dress shirts and ties for the men. The difference between what we were told and the actual was most annoying because when traveling once you pack you are stuck no matter what else you might have in your closet at home. From what we saw the Regency clientele is a group who is into dressing for dinner. Also be aware on nights where you elect to share a table and end up at a table for 6, count on a 3 hour dinner whether in the Compass Rose, main dr, or a specialty restaurant.
Arrived in Buenos Aires a day early in order to have three days to explore the city.
Thanks to poor planning by the cruise line day 2, our first full day in BA was a waste. The hotel Emperador, chosen by the cruise line, would neither allow late checkout, provide a security box outside the room, nor give guests a secure place to story carry-on luggage should they decide to spend the day sightseeing before going to the ship. Transportation options provided by the ship meant leaving the hotel either at 12:15 or 12:30pm in order to check in and kill the afternoon on the ship first eating lunch because cabins were not ready until 2:30pm so no place to stash hand luggage. Then despite the ship overnighting in BA passengers were told there was a mandatory fire drill at 5:15pm. This and the fact that to leave the port required a shuttle to the outer terminal still many blocks from the Main Street made afternoon sightseeing impossible.
Since many of us made the journey here to see the sights, not simply to cruise, Regency should have provided a way to either watch over passengers hand luggage at the hotel and provide shuttle service to the ship mid-late afternoon or offered a sightseeing tour on which passengers could load their hand luggage upon check out then spend 4-6 hours seeing the sights of BA before being whisked to the ship.
Upon arrival, Regency's local travel agency was offering tours for sale on the date of arrival in BA. With all the communication we received from Regency prior to departure it would have been nice to have had these as options.....as previously stated NO tours were offered on the day of embarkation, making our first full day in BA a waste of time!
All in all our first two days were very frustrating. Fortunately the tango master class and tango show tours offered by the ship on day 3 were excellent. Our cabin on deck ten mid ship is very nice and so far we are pleased with the quality of the food and beverages included in the cruise.
Second port was Montevideo. A word of caution here is that the city shuts down on Sunday about which the local rep staffing the info aboard ship was misinformed. The only things that are open is the mausoleum below the statue of Jose Artigas, the national hero of Uruguay, the Teatro Solis, the Cathedral before noon, and the Mercado del Puerto a hot spot where the locals gather for grilled meats. There is also a small Carnival Museum on the side of the same building which is open on Sunday.
Beware of walking alone along the wide costal street parallel to the walking street.
We were attacked by a young man who came very suddenly out of nowhere.
Fortunately all he got was some cash as he tossed Ken's wallet on the ground after emptying the cash and running on. We were banged up and bruised but nothing more. Tour the next day to the Jewish sights was interesting the highlight being the Holocaust Memorial....on the same open coastal road but this time the tour bus had a police escort.
Third port Punta del Este gave us an interesting glimpse of the San Tropes of South America with its miles of beautiful beaches surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of modern hi rise condos extending as far as the eye could see. The tour which took us to the Ralli Museum was disappointing as the guide gave us little info about the museum or the works of significance contained within it so that we could use our limited time, 45 min., to see the most noteworthy items. The museum features Dali and many other excellent works was designed to be without a set route and without explanations. Thus the tour was more like a taxi service. It concluded with free time to shop. We were able to catch the ship's tender service back aboard for lunch and a change of clothes to venture ashore for a second time to enjoy playa brava....the Atlantic beach.
Have no idea about Rio Grande even though we were anchored in the harbor till 3 PM. The captain was worried about high winds late in the day so he would not allow the tender to take us to shore. The winds never did materialize. (Captain was a wimp, he would have gotten sea-sick on my sailboat in the great lakes)
Porto Belo, Parati and Ilha Grande are like 4th world countries. Fine as a beach stop, but absolutely nothing else. Tate the schooner trips to the lagoons to swim or stay on the ship but don't plan on much of a city or shopping experience. The shops aren't even air conditioned so shopping in the heat is not pleasant.
Buzios on the other hand is rated as a beach stop but be ready SHOP. It is a few hours’ drive from Rio and the rich locals come here to sun and shop. The stores are all very top of the line and service you we'll.
Rio de Janeiro is simply the most beautiful city in the world. Mountains and forests inside the city along beautiful beaches 3 and 4 miles long. Take all the tours to the top pod everything, see a samba show, eat in the local buffet restaurants ((a real carnivore heaven), see the infrastructure changes coming for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. But as we said earlier, in December it may be very hot