Having planned this cruise for well over a year, my wife and I, (experienced cruisers with 15 cruises under our belt) and our friends who had never been on a cruise before, were eagerly anticipating our first cruise on a Regent ship. From all the reviews, our friends were starting at the top, and would forever look at lesser cruise lines with disdain. The reviews were right, to a point.
We originally had planned to do a Mediterranean cruise with Regent during this time period, but opted to sail the Caribbean yet again for $3000 less. The all inclusiveness and small size of the ship was what initially attracted us to Regent. Having sailed on both larger and smaller ships in the past, the smaller ships are much more appealing for a many reasons, not the least of which is the better personal service, ability to visit smaller less crowded ports, and passenger to crew ratio.
Our cabin on deck 6 was very roomy and at the bow of the ship. In fact it was the roomier than a suite we had on the Dawn Princess. The downside was that there was no balcony, only a large window which was beside an outside deck. Only Crew members used this deck, so we had to remember to close the curtains for privacy. Being in the bow, noise and vibrations from the anchor being lowered nearly knocked us out of bed early in the morning on two occasions. The air conditioning in this suite was also very loud, but it didn't keep us awake. The beds are very comfortable, but the duvet was a bit heavy for my liking. The carpeting in this suite had seen better days, and the furniture was a little worn and tired for this calibre of ship. This suite also had two televisions, one in the sitting area, and one in the bedroom area, which could be curtained off to make two separate rooms if desired. The bathroom was also very large, and had both a shower and separate bath tub, which us unheard of on most ships.
The in-suite tv offerings were the usual cruise ship channels with port and excursion info. The satellite channels were mediocre and offered nothing for Canadians, or other non-Americans other than U.S. news channels with talking heads and political pundits. The minibar was adequate, but some in-suite snicky snacks would have been welcomed.
Our friends were in another category on a higher deck, and had many more perks, including a butler, than us lesser passengers down in steerage. While they paid a premium fir these extras, I'm not sure that they felt they got that much extra value for the extra dollars. For instance, WiFi was supposedly included in their category, but apparently only one half hour. Extra usage sane at a fist of $1.00 a minute. In my opinion, WiFi should be available and included for all passengers on this ship. To charge extra is nickel and diming, and us what we were trying to get away from by paying more up front by sailing on Regent.
The food and Compass Rose dining room service for the most part, was excellent. Prime 7, the "reservation only" steak and seafood restaurant, was excellent as well, and we were able to eat there twice. The Italian restaurant Sette Mari, was not so great. Being half table service and half buffet, doesn't quite work and the service in this restaurant was at times slow, and orders were frequently mixed up or wrong. The quality of the food, however was consistent with the other restaurants on board.
The entertainment was a pleasant surprise. Typically, we avoid the shows on board because they are so predictable and just not of interest due to the fact that they are designed for a much older demographic. The broadway show and the age of Aquarius show were really good. The cirque d soli style show was good if you like hoops and rings and people hanging from the ceiling (I don't and slept through most of it). The pianist was terrible and very cheesy. Any pianist that builds his act around "chopsticks" needs to be skipped. There needs to be more entertainment that would appeal to the under 60 set, although I realize we were probably in the minority amongst the blue rinse set.
The excursions were adequate, given that they are included, but are not exceptional. There is a bit of misrepresentation by Regent when they advertise "unlimited" shore excursions, because most excursions typically are in the morning, and because of the limited time in port only one excursion per day can be scheduled. At only one port (St. Martin) were we able to do both a morning and afternoon excursion.
One disappointment we had was because of a two hour delay in leaving Turks and Caicos due to a medical emergency disembarkation. This meant a two hour delay in arrival at San Juan the next day....which meant our excursion, a highly anticipated 5 hour hike through El Yunke rain forest, was cancelled. I can't imagine that the timing between departure and arrival at two ports is so close a two hour delay can't be made up over the course of a night by putting the "pedal to the metal", so to speak. I suspect that the captain was reluctant to run the engines faster than the usual 18 knot cruising speed at their top speed of 22 knots because of the resulting vibrations (mentioned at length in other posts). Other ships I've been on have kept to their schedule despite greater delays than this. The delay also extended to our departure from San Juan because refuelling was also delayed for some unknown reason?...
Transfers from airport to pre cruise hotel/hotel to port, embarkation and disembarkation, and port back to airport were quick and very well organized. Not the usual "cattle call" experienced on larger ships.
Al in all a very enjoyable cruise. Would we cruise again on Regent? Yes, most definitely....if we win a lottery.....but not on the Navigator, and not in the Caribbean.