Let me begin by saying that since 2008 we have loved Regent cruises. Many cruises on the Navigator and the Mariner. But something is slowly happening to the Regent brand that is both unfortunate and shameful. Head Office seems to slowly want to destroy what was once a great company with a unique "all inclusive" concept. Regent still claims 6 Star service but this must be amended as false advertising. For at least a year or more services are being reduced and/or eliminated. Sometimes we get a Carnival LLC feeling while on board the Voyager this past cruise. Last winter we cruised South America on the Mariner and that trip was our first experience with downgrading and changes (not good for us travelers). I had thought it would be a one off of bad experiences and booked our first trip to Asia on the Voyager, also our first time on the Voyager.
Embarkment: After spending 7 nights, on our own, in Hong Kong, embarkment was easy and simple from the cruise terminal near the Star Ferry Terminal. Walking around the Voyager, it looks similar but better then the other two ships in the fleet. Several staff remembered us from other cruises and made us feel right at home.
Stateroom: On deck 7 forward, we experienced a constant smell of sewage near the elevators & the corridor. This smell dissipated but remained for our entire 33 days aboard. Our stateroom is the large deluxe suite with a large bathroom and walk-in closet. The layout is the same as the other ships but the color scheme is much better. Upon closer look, the carpet was stained and so were the upholstered furniture. There are a pair of sheer drapes on the balcony door/window but from two different sets. One sheer was longer, one sheer shorter then the other. The wood trim, desk, vanity & molding woods are beaten up and need of major repair or removal. When I commented about the stains to the cabin steward he stated that he would take of it while we were at dinner. Upon return the carpet stains remained but the chair cushions were cleaned, but no, the steward just flipped the cushions. The furniture arms & backs remained stained. I bought a cheap brush on day 4 and removed all the stains myself. A little elbow grease and it was fine. An officer stated that all public rooms were refurbished recently (cosmetically only) but no work has been on the suites in years. This is not 6 star service.
Dining: La Veranda is the buffet by day and an Italian restaurant by night. Breakfast here is sometimes a chore and many times laughable. The staff all want to help and for the most part they are great kids but with lousy supervision. We arrived early some mornings before early tours and only one or two staff were there. Although open for business they were still setting up. Bacon was usually cold and toast could take 10 minutes without a line. Ask for an omelet and wait. You are told a server would bring it to your table but after 10 minutes I went back to find out she gave my omelet to someone else. We found that breakfast was better served in the main dining room Compass Rose but if you have an early tour forget it, Compass Rose opens at 8:00 a.m. It took longer to order from the dining room but it was civilized and service was much better. Our biggest complaint in all dining rooms was the coffee. It was undrinkable. Always tasted like burnt, bottom of the pot coffee. One maitre d' told a group of us that Head Office approved and ships this particular coffee for dining room use. We heard much about Head Office during our cruise. Voyager has a coffee shop and a coffee station on the Pool Deck with fresh brewed self-service machines. This coffee was great. So if you wanted a good cup of coffee you went to one of these machines then brought it back to your dining room. Sure doesn't sound like 6 star to me.
The menus were mediocre except for the "Destination Dishes" being offered. We were told that the chefs must use only the approved Head Office menus. Except for a Destination Dish made to enhance the port of call for that day or the next day. The Lead Chef Kelly did wonders with these Destination Dishes and we only ordered these off the menu and so did most others when they got tired of the Head Office offerings.
Prime 7 is Regent's steak restaurant and we loved this restaurant on both the Navigator and the Mariner. But here on the Voyager we experienced a staff and maitre d' that ruined the evening for us. And many others too. We had a problem with cold Oysters Rockefeller and returned them, twice. They were almost still frozen in the center. In Asia I knew they would be frozen but not at the table. After the second return the maitre d' came over with a haughty attitude and stated " I here you have a problem with your appetizer". And this is supposed to be 6 star service. The rest of dinner was a disaster, I guess we were being punished for complaining. Again 6 star service?
Signatures is the French restaurant and under the leadership of Christian this room and it's staff are wonderful. But unfortunately, this wonderful staff must present a truly lousy menu and anything but French. My first night there I was served Medallions of Veal with gnocchi. Now we have been to France and French restaurants all over the world and truly love French cuisine but gnocchi? French? Again, when I questioned this item I was told that this is Head Office's menu and the chef must prepare what Head Office tells him. And this is 6 star service? Last year on the Mariner we were served filet mignon with foie gras and a side of Mac & Cheese. So Italian gnocchi must be a step up!
So two alternative restaurants. One with a great menu and lousy staff and the other with a great staff and a lousy menu. Why? 6 Stars?
Entertainment: The Regent Singers and Dancers are so much better then in the past. New acts and new shows but still just young talented boys and girls starting their careers. Paid professionals were rare to see and we even had the Cruise Director, Ray, doing several of the evening shows himself. He was excellent but why can't Regent hire good quality talent. For the price we pay, you would think we would get the best. I guess not. Is this 6 star service?
Canyon Ranch Spa: You must be kidding. $122 for a simple pedi/mani? $39 for men's haircut, $92 for a ladies wash & set? Ridiculous pricing and just average quality and 18% mandatory gratuity? Shameful.
Shore Excursions: Regent advertising Free Excursions but in many ports they offered private car tours at an additional price. The free excursions are getting worse and worse. Does Head Office ever send anyone to investigate a port and the tours they offer us? Guides that barely speak English, absolutely no guides or even audio headsets at any of the museums. Ports that offer absolutely nothing of value and we are docked at a tanker port and no way to get into any town. Many of the ports we were miles away from anything only to find out that there are cruise terminals in town. Can't Regent paid the additional fee to get us closer to town. On the second segment of the cruise Regent was docked at the old Hong Kong airport turned into a cruise terminal for two days. From ship to bus took at least 20 minutes walking and you were still in the terminal. Why? Is this 6 star service? I paid extra for private tours and even an overnight and had a wonderful experience each time. So when they say Free, it now means cheap. There are wonderful quality excursions everywhere but you must pay extra. Is this false advertising? Is this 6 star quality?
Disembarkation & Land Tour: Early departure in Bangkok for a three day land excursion with 2 days at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Smooth transfer and flight to Siem Reap. Sofitel Hotel was outstanding and we were in groups of 14 with a wonderful guide, Tee. Back to Bangkok and two nights at the Sofitel there, again wonderful.
Staffing: The Asian staff are professional, wonderful, kind and caring, every one of them. The European and specifically Eastern European staff are arrogant, rude and act like they are doing us a favor by serving us. Who hires these guys? They treat the Asian staff like garbage, yelling and belittling them. This change in staffing was first noted last year on the Mariner and it is shocking to find it spreading to all the ships. Why? The crews on all the Regent ships are so talented and help to make our vacations/travels a unique experience and Head Office is hiring a few Eastern European guys that are helping to bring down the brand. Why? This is definitely not 6 star service.
Overall: For our first time in Asia we had a wonderful time and made the best out of every port. The majority of the crew, especially Ray, Elda, Vivienne, Christian, Olga (waitress), Olfa & Katje (bartenders),
ViJay, Frank & Dennis (waiters), Francesco, the entire Destinations staff, the entire Reception/Purser staff, just to name a few help to make our cruise special. The few idiots did not ruin it for us but caused us not to go into the Observation or Voyager lounges for most of the cruise.
No more flowers in the suites, a few days of a flower in the dining rooms then no more flowers on the dining room tables, lousy "free" excursions, staterooms not repaired & stateroom furniture looking like it is a cheap motel and these little things add up. Doesn't Head Office realize that we guests talk with each other. My observations are not just mine but shared by many others. I keep hearing "Oceania is so much better", Seaborne is so much better, Crystal is my favorite, never Regent again". Why is Head Office determined to ruin what I thought was the best cruise line at sea. It looks like the new boss has given Regent to his niece and/or nephew to run and/or ruin.
Definitely no longer 6 stars.