Embarking in Miami went smoothly and a bottle of champagne was waiting for us in our penthouse suite. This cabin was very comfortable for our 24 day voyage with ample storage space, a nice size veranda with two reclining chairs and a small table and a good size bathroom with a tub and shower. Thick and cozy bathrobes and slippers were provided. We were never given a program for the day or told the Veranda Terrace was open for snacks for arriving guests. Movies shown on TV in the cabin were inexcusably bad. Announcements from the bridge could be accessed in our cabin on the TV if we wanted to hear them and that was so nice We recently had been on a cruise where you had to open your cabin door every time an announcement was being made.
Our butler came in to introduce himself and offered his services but never explained just what he was there to do. We requested reservations in the two specialty restaurants giving him the dates and times we would like. The reservations we had asked for were never confirmed until 12 noon of the day the reservation was for and each time the reservation was for the wrong time. On the second cruise we made reservations ourselves. We found that if we wanted room service we called our butler and he would call us back very promptly to see what we wanted and he would bring our order. In other cabins the room steward filled the same function so there seemed to be no advantage to butler service. Our butler delivered two canapes per person to our cabin at about 4:00 PM each afternoon and gave us fresh ice. This was the only extra service we had and thought it unnecessary with 24 hour room service available for all guests. The suggested gratuity for butler service was $3.00 per person per day. Other guests may have found ways to use their butlers, but we did not and thought him superfluous.
The beds in our cabin deserve special mention. We had read the beds were new and very comfortable and we found them to be the best of any cruise line we have traveled with. The sheets, duvet and pillows are beautiful and oh, so cozy. Our cabin steward and assistant were excellent and kept everything spic and span and couldn't have been friendlier and more helpful. They were both a delight.
We found the staff aboard the ship were extremely well trained and excellent in every way. Service with a smile was the rule of the day. They were mostly from Eastern Europe and were very friendly and acco mmodating in every way. We wondered if they had also been selected for their looks -- they were such an attractive group!
The shore excursions department was not as competent. Information was not as complete as it could be and it was very nice when local tourist guides came on board. Unfortunately, only one specialist spoke on each cruise. An expert on the Panama Canal came on board to give 3 lectures and was outstanding. A representative from the Guatemalan Tourist Office was also very informative. The shore excursions offered tried to meet the desires of the sedentary as well as the more active and adventurous.
One of the nicest surprises was the quality of the food on board. It was very good and each presentation was beautifully done. We loved having one seating and being able to dine when we wished and with whom we wished. If we wanted to share a table the maitre d' would be very good at trying to match up compatible people and we found it a delightful way to meet our fellow passengers.
One of my favorite areas on the ship is the library. It is a beautiful room with comfortable chairs and a great selection of books. There are also two computers that can be used 24 hours a day at no charge if you are not on the internet.
There is a separate room with many computers. I found the charge for using the internet connections high but the staff there was very helpful. I was able to download all my digital photos and have a CD disc burned at the end of both cruises for a small fee.
Entertainment was minimal. One excellent group from Australia, BLACK TIE, gave 3 shows, each one better than the last. They repeated the shows on the next cruise, and were just as enjoyable the second time around. There was one lecturer on digital photography,who gave a series of three lectures, on the first cruise that was very informative and had excellent attendance at all lectures. A lecturer on astronomy on the second cruise, besides a series of lectures, published an Eye on the Sky daily almanac in the daily program, and was on deck each evening at twilight and in the early morning to point out the daily heavenly show. Another lecturer on the second cruise did a series about what you need in life to make you happy. Other passengers enjoyed the series but I found what made me happy -- being aboard the Regatta with the person I love -- my husband.