This was our 5th Regent Cruise and second on the Mariner. We selected this cruse because of the interesting, mostly Adriatic itinerary, and the fact it started in Venice - giving us time to enjoy Venice for a few days prior to the cruise.
The Mariner had been recently refurbished and the common areas, especially the lounges, were very nice. The color scheme is a bit more muted, but also more elegant. We were lucky enough to score an upgrade to Suite 1103 (Penthouse A) and we loved the layout and dacor. The Penthouse suites on the Mariner are much nicer than sister ship Voyager.
The dinners and service were excellent in all the dining rooms. We noticed a particular improvement in the main dining room, Compass Rose, where previous cruises had mixed results. The wines poured were very good and if you weren't sure of the recommended wine, they were happy to offer you many alternatives. Mixed drinks were done well and the selections were also very good.
We enjoyed the entertainment. The house band used good arrangements and high energy. There was an interesting trio of guitars and base that performed in some venues and were surprisingly good at most pop music. The singers and dancers were mostly new so they did not perform until half-way through the cruise, and while they can still use a little practice, the overall arrangements and performances were very good. Nightlife after 11 p.m. was pretty non-existent, mostly due to the port intensive itinerary.
We enjoyed the services of our butler, Ryan, who was by far the most responsive and friendly butler we have had on Regent. On the second to last night we invited some friends to our suite for cocktails and appetizers and Ryan did an exceptional job of organizing this.
We had the pleasure of dining with General Manager Davor, who we had met on our last Mariner cruise 2 1/2 years ago, and his attention to detail and great sense of humor have definitely filtered down to his staff.
We went on four scheduled excursions, and our guides and itineraries were interesting. Our favorite ports were Kotor, Montenegro and Taormina, Sicily. We chose to use the stop in Albania as a sea day since it was nice and sunny and there didn't seem to be much to see or do there.
Embarkation was a snap. From the time we got off our shared water taxi at the cruise terminal until we were on the ship getting our dining reservations re-made, it was only 45 minutes.
The passenger mix was a bit younger and more international than we had previously experienced with Regent. Best guess would be about 40% Americans, 25% British, and 35% "other". We heard Russian, French, German, Swedish etc. and we thought it really helped the flavor of the cruise. Some of the interaction with the staff was entertaining to overhear (some of the staff spoke better English than some of the guests). Average age was 60-65, with at least three honeymoon couples, and a young family with infant in tow.
As always with Regent we made some great new friends and have tons of marvelous memories.