We booked this cruise (our 4th with Regent) about 7 weeks out on a H suite guarantee basis having seen a good deal. The following week the price was hiked up by more than double!! All the included BA flights had gone so instead of paying a supplement we accepted the SAS flight half an hour earlier at 07.15 from Heathrow. We checked in on line and printed our luggage labels in the machine in T3 but then we had to join the long queue to drop our bag which took over an hour! Our agent told us we would have breakfast served on the flight but as Regent had booked us on the cheapest SAS Go ticket all that is included is tea or coffee. The Regent rep met us at the baggage belt in Stockholm and as soon as we found our bags they were taken from us and the next time we saw them was in our cabin. The transfer to the ship took about an hour and we were soon on board checking in with our half glass of champagne (not sure why they are so mean on boarding when the rest of the time the glasses are filled?).
This was a fairly slick operation and we were able to have lunch on board. Cabins were ready about 14.30 and we met our steward who looked after our cabin for the voyage. She also organised our two bottles of spirits in the cabin. The cabin was kept spotlessly clean throughout and well stocked with towels etc. The food on board was pretty good as usual with the steaks really tasty in all the various formats and restaurants. We managed dinner one night in Prime 7 which was excellent and two in Signatures which was equally good (these two restaurants don't have a sign outside for some reason so they are difficult to find?) The wine choice wasn't so good on this cruise compared to previous cruises and the sommeliers didn't seem to know what they had in stock. Wines we had found to our taste on our previous cruise on Mariner in Nov 2013 weren't available on this cruise. We did find an acceptable Bordeaux and a Gavi but they weren't anything to write home about. This was probably our biggest disappointment on the cruise. In Compass Rose restaurant they only have one sommelier on each side of the large restaurant. They also have wine waiters who will dish up the standard wine from the menu but if you want something different you need to get hold of the sommelier which can be difficult when it is busy.
The dress code on Regent continues to slide downwards. Our 10 night cruise had no formal nights and whilst every night was supposed to be "elegant casual" we did see jeans and t shirts after 18.00. Signatures and Prime 7 did tend to be a little smarter with most men wearing a jacket but few suits or ties. My suitcase will be considerably lighter next time as I will shed most of the smart clothes.
Coffee is a common complaint and this review is no exception. The coffee in the restaurants was very variable and sometimes incredibly strong when no amount of milk would lighten the colour beyond dark brown. I found the Americano from coffee connections to be pretty good and an excellent start to the day. This is a popular area on the ship so gets quite busy. It is not as large as on Mariner and spills out into the reception area.
The Excursions were as usual well organised and apart from one poor tour guide we had in Riga we enjoyed them all (we did complain about this tour to destination service so hopefully it can be improved for others).
The service in the bars and restaurants was pretty good with only a few exceptions. If you have breakfast in Compass Rose be aware that all the food you order will be delivered at the same time. So if you order fresh fruit, yoghurt, and fried eggs they will all appear at once!!
La Veranda is opened one half at a time for breakfast and lunch for some reason? When one half gets really busy the other half is opened. This caused some problems for people trying to find a table and then suddenly there are plenty available. I couldn’t figure out why this was done as all the staff seemed to be available anyway? Moving between the two halves is now restricted at the stern as the egg/pasta and toasted bread stations have been positioned between the two sides. This causes another problem as the queues for toast and eggs get busy and mixed up in the morning. This really needs sorting out by reviewing the flows of people.
The staff were all very friendly as usual especially those from the Philippines but some of the Eastern Europeans can be a bit abrupt at times.
The whole ship is very clean and apart from the odd dirty fork and cracked glass in the restaurant no complaints.
We are looking forward to our next Regent cruise as long as they don't price themselves out of our reach (and they get some decent wine).