Having sailed previously with other cruise lines, P&O, Cunard and Compagnie Du Ponant we had high expectations of Regent and particularly Seven Seas Mariner, having had good reviews from friends and neighbors who sail regularly on her. Our experience did not start very well sadly - we had booked a Penthouse suite and therefore qualified for FREE business class flights and a FREE pre-cruise hotel, obviously neither are FREE as you pay a higher price for a higher grade suite. On arrival to Venice we were greeted by Regent ground handlers who really didn't seem to know what was happening. We were, however, escorted to the water taxi departure point and sent off to the Hotel Excelsior on the Lido, Venice. We had heard very bad reports on this hotel and had even asked Regent to change it - our request was refused and we were reminded that it was a FREE night so we should be happy!!
Anyway, this is about the ship and not the hotel - departure from the hotel and transfer to the ship were relatively painless if a little slow. Once aboard we had to wait two hours before being able to access our suite - why take people to the ship knowing they cannot have their suite? So, at about 14.30 we were told that the suites were ready and we went directly to ours on deck 8 - a very spacious suite with a good walk in closet and numerous hangers, small(ish) shower room with an " impractical for tall people" rainfall shower and hand held unit, the main living/sleeping area was exceptional with curtaining to separate the areas. Having been recently refurbished the condition was very good, perhaps a little dated with a wooden wall unit housing the TV and minibar etc but certainly not offensive. A very small safe in the closet is just enough for wallets and passport but not iPads. The staff are generally very nice and courteous - especially those from the Far East - the more western crew ( at Reception desk) were not always as friendly as you would expect. Our Butler had some mood swings during our voyage. Dining in Signature and Prime 7 is definitely worth making the reservation in advance for but make them for towards the end of your cruise - we had our two reservations at the beginning and were then disappointed by the other offerings. Room service was slow whenever we ordered so we stopped making use of it. F & B staff around the ship are fantastic, some even remembering your name and using it every time they see you whether on board or ashore. Another minor niggle was the advertised FREE wifi in Penthouse and above ... however it is only 30 minutes during the voyage - this is changing in November we were told and will offer 500 minutes maximum depending on voyage length. the spa was very expensive by european standards however it was busy most of afternoons when people returned from tours we were told. All in all it was a nice experience, not sure it would qualify as Six Star but certainly five and a bit.