Western Mediterranean Cruise Rome to Monte Carlo Regent Voyager - Oct 25 - Nov 4, 2007
Trip to Rome I flew on British Airways from Houston IAH via Gatwick and on to Rome on October 25, arriving on the morning of October 26. I had some glitches in Gatwick. I had a large selection of personal entertainment, but each channel went through a program. There was not entertainment on demand on this trip. From Gatwick within Europe, they allow one carry-on bag. One bag does not mean a bag and a purse. I ended up hand carrying my 17 inch laptop across the entire airport and checking my other bag. I was relieved when I saw the bag in Rome since it was checked at the last minute. The Gatwick airport had an area to go for those ending their trip in the U.K. and another for those going on. We departed late by about 45 minutes, but they made up just about all of the time. A meal was served and later a snack and various beverages were passed out at intervals. The flight was nice and quiet.
My flight gates were as far apart as possible, but I did make it. The flight to Rome was non-eventful. It was fairly full. We arrived at the scheduled time.
In Rome, nobody looked at our passports or anything anywhere, and my passport was not stamped.
I had booked my transfers with my hotel, Hotel Hassler Roma Villa Medica. I did not see my guide, and I was worried because Crystal and Princess had their people in there. When I went back and forth for some time, I then discovered that my driver and many others were outside the baggage area just before the exit.
My driver (that I arranged thru Hassler) took my bags and then walked me up to his car, a Mercedes Sedan. It had been raining and was still sprinkling. The driver chatted on the phone (7 calls) for the entire ride.
Hotel Hassler - it was very nice, I had a lovely view. The rooftop restaurant was nice, but it was pricey. I enjoyed the casual spaghetti restaurant more at the top of the Spanish Steps.
Rome I walked for hours and saw churches, fountains, etc. I enjoyed seeing all the cafes and gelati places. I had a late lunch at a little pizza house. They weighed my marghareta pizza by the kg and gave me white wine. All told, cost was 5.8 Euros for 2 slices and the wine.
It is amazing to watch the crowd on the steps grow with the time of day, and people in Rome just walk, and most are not going anywhere in particular. I loved that. Everything is beautiful at night, and the little cafes and such stay open late. Even McDonalds sells gelati.
I saw the coliseum but only from the car. I was on top of it pretty much.
The train station for Spagna is right there at the hotel, so you could figure this out if you were so inclined. Near there, a lot of artists hang out to sell paintings, and large, beautiful paintings are available for 50 Euros.
At 1:30 the next day, my ride came for the ship. This was another Mercedes, and this driver was pleasant and gave me a tour, including Venice Square and the coliseum. We arrived in one hour. It took longer to get out of Rome than to go down the highway.
Civitavecchia & Embarking Regent Voyager A young Regent staffer said to leave my large bag, but he did not glance at it and walked off. My driver and I were both a bit concerned about leaving it just sitting there. I struggled with my own carryon that was quite heavy up the gangplank. At no time was I offered assistance. At the top, I was not shown where to check in, only told where it was. I went there. Was not offered champagne, had to ask. Also, I had to ask how to get to elevators, and I got lost and staff just laughed. I made my way up to my deck, and a nice Filipino giggled and took me to my cabin. Again, no assistance or anything, and she just left.
Minutes later, another girl came and said she was my stewardess and explained the room.
After lunch, I gave myself a self tour of most of the public areas. I came back to my cabin and saw my large suitcase outside the door. My key did not work, so I had to get it redone, then dealt with my own bag again. I unpacked the large bag, but before I got the small one unpacked, it was time for the lifeboat drill. This was very painless. After that, they had a block party vs. a sailing party. I met everyone on this hall, which was half of deck 7. There were quite a few Texans but none from my area.
There was a bottle of Regent's own champagne waiting chilled on the dining table for a bon voyage.
Cabin I was in cabin 708, a port side cabin in category G. All cabins on Regent Voyager are balcony cabins. This category is 345 square ft., including the balcony.
Outside, the cabin has a hanger on the door for the daily news and any items to be delivered. There is also a doorbell.
As you walk in the cabin, the bathroom is on the left. There is a separate shower and tub, and the tub also has a shower head for rinsing off. There is a clothes line there. The marble sink area had shelves and plenty of space for toiletries and a nice large mirror with plenty of lighting. There were cabinets for additional storage if needed. Amenities were Aveda and included lotion, shampoo and conditioner (rosemary mint), bath gel, and nice bar soap.
Next is the closet. It has lots of hangers. Half of the hanging area is split with two rods for shorter items, and the other half is one rod for longer items. Robes and slippers are provided. A European hair dryer is provided, and a shoe horn was located in the closet. There were small, medium and large drawers and an electronic safe. There is also the life jackets and the dining table that they add to your coffee table when you order room service.
Built in to the side wall is the dressing table. This includes two each of 115 volt U.S. style plugs and 2 European style 220 volt plugs. There is ample lighting and a small stool. The shelf and drawer there are small, so there is not much space to set things. This was ample for my needs, but a lot of people said they didn't like it when the senior staff was talking about ways to improve cabins for the new upcoming ship. The bed was nicely sized and had lamps and night stands on either side. One side had a phone. Drapes can be drawn between the sitting a sleeping area.
The sitting area had a full sized couch, which I really enjoyed. The dining table had two chairs. The desk had all of the usual drawers, shelves and cabinets and housed the fridge. In the fridge, they had soda-Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, and Schwepps club soda and 2 Budweiser and 2 Becks beers. I took out all of the things I didn't want and just left the Coke Light and club soda. There was plenty of ice and also bottled water. The TV was the old CRT style and was on a swivel shelf that allowed viewing from the couch or the bed. These are being replaced before the year's end and likely by mid-November when the ship adds many more channels and video on demand.
There were white orchids in the cabin and also fresh fruit. The bedding included a nice duvet and a pretty throw, and my stewardess provided additional pillows for me when I asked for firm ones to go with the soft ones.
Layout of the Ship When I checked in, I was told lunch was up on deck 11 at the pool grill, so I decided to self tour a bit and get some lunch. I was in no hurry since I had already had one lunch that day (but no breakfast, lol). I tended to get around the ship by getting in the glass elevators and reading the signs there. The observation lounge, pool, pool bar and grill and hot tubs, and La Verandah were all on deck 11. The jogging/walking track, the golf cage and shuffleboard were on deck 12. The other public areas were on 4, 5 and 6, and these included the Constellation theatre on decks 4 and 5, the Horizons Lounge on deck 5, Signatures, and Latitudes on deck 5, Travel desk and Reception and the shops on deck 5, the casino, Voyager lounge, and Compass Rose on deck 4. Some of the areas did fill up at times, but it was never uncomfortable. The pool deck had covered and non-covered areas and a lot of seating at the grill. This got a bit crowded on the special dining days. Also, the pool deck got a bit crowded since there were only a couple of warm days. It was OK, though. There were always plenty of towels, and the hot tubs were always a good temperature and were available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are two showers there, and the pool was heated. Two days they had to drain it due to the wind, but the hot tubs were always available. The decks and public areas were kept immaculate.
Pool Grille Daily, they put out baguettes and other fresh breads, salads, sandwiches, a chilled soup, and fresh fruits, along with made to order ice cream. They grilled burgers and dogs, and this was open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There were covered tables (nice when the regular dining rooms were closed and it was cold). Service took a while there, but once they figure out you are there, they wait on you. On embarkation day, I found this and went up and had lunch with a nice lady and her mother. I had salad with baby shrimp and some fruit. We had delightful conversation. This was when I was going to use the hot tub but I enjoyed the conversation. Some were sunbathing, and it was warm enough and lovely enough.
In Ajaccio, Corsica, I went up to join the grilled fish bbq on the pool deck. I had sea bass, grilled zucchini, some salads, and some cherry ice cream, along with ice tea. They had a great display and presentation, and I think earlier, they had live music. They were grilling salmon, mahi mahi, and tuna, also.
In Spain, they had a paella lunch out there. This included grillabas, many Spanish side dishes, grilled lobster, steaks, chicken, and sausages, along with the outstanding paella.
Breakfast at La Veranda I dined here several mornings. The first time was the first full day of the cruise. I walked in and did not know the routine and asked about outdoor seating and was told but not shown that there was a table in the corner. Also, I asked about boiled eggs and was told I could order from the waiter, but he did not stay long enough to do so, nor did he point out that you could presumably order other items besides the buffet. I found the buffet to be of nice quality but rather limited. There was fresh fruit, a few European meats and cheeses, American items such as sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, omelets to order, and hash browns, and cereals and rolls. They sometimes had baby shrimp. They had a juice selection. I saw no waffles, French toast or even sliced bread for toast, so I can only guess these could be ordered. No champagne for mimosas or anything like that, either. After the first day, I either skipped breakfast, or joined the solo travelers, and once I dined in my cabin. I never made the Compass Rose for breakfast, as it never met my schedule.
Room Service For breakfast, you can place the card out on the door before you go to bed at night. Even if you stay up until 1 a.m., if you put 6:30 on the time slot, it will come, at least mine did. The card comes with the turndown service. Eggs to order, fruits, pastries, waffles, French toast, bagels, cold cuts and such could all be ordered. All day, a wide selection of items were available. At night during dinner, these items could be ordered, or the Compass Rose dinner items could be ordered. These could be served course by course if desired at dinner. I had lunch one day and ordered a green salad, pasta with pesto, Indian curry vegetables, and shrimp cocktail. The menu was extensive. They had steak, pizzas to order, pasta, crème Brule, sandwiches to order, soup, etc. Service time was reasonable, and there was absolutely no confusion in my orders. You could also call and just order juices, drinks or whatever you liked, and that would come quickly.
Lunch at La Veranda I only dined here one day. They open the buffet on both sides, so you dine and get your selection on whichever side you enter. The day that I dined, I had a seafood cocktail with mussels and shrimp. I also had some chicken tortilla soup and salad and also some lovely veal picatta. They serve tea, soda, or wine here. They have a variety of desserts, including a sugar free and low fat selection. On the day we were in Marseilles, they had bouillabaisse, but I missed it since I got back after 2 p.m. Though they close at 2, they start breaking down everything but the dessert and 1:45, but they go around and warn guests (something similar happens at breakfast).
Lunch at Compass Rose I only made this one time. Service was what I expected here. The maitre d asked me if I wanted to have a table opened for sharing or wished to dine alone. This was lovely of him to ask since he had been helpful in my Signatures reservation mix up (see that section further down). The funny thing that happened here was I saw cobb salad on the menu and said I wanted one except I only wanted bacon, egg, and tomato. Literally, that is what I got, and when they brought it, I told them I wanted the lettuce and dressing, too!! They did it over, and it was beautiful. I had a nice soup here and the mixed fried seafood. I asked if they had sorbet, and the waiter said he thought it was too early, but luckily they had just made it, and it was very nice. They use one side of the room for lunch setup, and I got to see the sail in to Monte Carlo harbor from my seat. I really enjoyed that.
Dinner at Signatures Signatures is one of the two specialty restaurants that require advanced reservations. You can book online 28 days in advance, and there is no additional cost. I booked online and asked to be seated with others at a table for 8. However, the reservation came to the ship as me with 7 people that I already had lined up. They called at 6:15 to confirm my 7:30 reservation and told me to come on down and they would see what they could do. So I went up to Horizons beforehand to see who was having cocktails and who I could find, but others had plans for another day or something going this particular night that they did not want to miss. The maitre d was rather apologetic and seated me alone and said he would see who he could find. I was upset and almost in tears for 20 minutes since a lady was nearby that had told me several days earlier that Regent should not accept anyone traveling alone and that no matter who they were or what their reason for traveling alone that they wrecked the ambiance for couples. Since families, singles, and couples are welcome (not to mention this just being cruel), the comment was not appropriate. She was seated three tables away and was staring, so I kept looking at my menu and never up until a couple was seated with me that had also had the reservation mixup happen to them. The maitre d told me all the reservations from this and the previous cruise from the website had come this way. I quickly told him I was afraid of Latitudes for the next night, and he called and fixed the whole thing.
I'd heard the wines were better there, but they had the same ones as downstairs, which had not changed in 4 days since embarkation. They were willing to open something else at each location, but those wines would then pour slower as if it was coming begrudgingly.
If you have an issue with salt where you are restricted or simply don't like the taste, talk to the waiter in advance. I did not do this, and I did not eat my crustation soup or my halibut because they were too salty. The waiter did offer to have the chef redo the dishes. I had a lovely lobster medallion salad with mango and a precious crème Brule that was cut into a thin strip and served with strawberries and pistachio cream. One of my tablemates had HUGE prawns and the other lamb chops. They had several courses and were quite happy with theirs. Presentation and service were very good here. Dining time was about two hours. This will take longer if you linger over coffee or tea.
Dinner at Latitudes That was the best meal I had on the ship. I loved it. I was seated with two couples (since the reservation was straightened out). One couple was on their honeymoon (not first marriage at least for him).
The appetizers were good - spring rolls, the crisp ones and also another type, beef satay, ribs (my least favorite, but I am not a big meat eater), and some delicious crunchy shrimp triangle. That would have been enough there, but we carried on to a broth based soup with a shrimp in it and then a citrus salad with grapefruit and oranges. Next, they had lobster, chicken thighs, and tenderloin. I had only the lobster. The dessert was a lovely presentation with coconut sorbet in a crispy chocolate handle and green banana in phyllo dough. Dining time was about 2 hours.
Dinner at La Veranda I dined here on the last night with Jeannie, a very nice lady that I "met" online at Cruise Critic message board and in person on the Lucca wine tour. We enjoyed the casual and quiet atmosphere. We were seated at the side at a table for two.
First, we had items from the antipasto bar. I had clams, cured meats, and cheese. We both loved the baguette, as usual. I didn't write down much about dinner, but we had a nice soup and then she had steak that she said was the best on the trip, and I had fish. For dessert, she had a little something from the buffet, and I had the bananas foster. Dinner here took about an hour and 45 minutes.
Dinners at Compass Rose I started my first dinner here by joining the solo get together in Horizons Lounge where we met the social hostess, Terry and then got arranged in two large tables. Each night, those that wanted to join would meet at either Horizons or Voyager for a brief get together and then go into dinner hosted by either the distinguished gentlemen or one or two of the social hosts or both.
First Night - dress code country club casual - Some people were dressed up more than others. The men at our table had jackets, but 2 of the 3 were hosts, and the other was being a host on his own. We had an exceptional dinner and a delightful time. I was able to get wonderful choices. The lady next to me had the degustation menu. She was very happy with it. I had mussels, shrimp and king crab (two appetizers), spinach salad with egg and bacon and some wonderful balsamic. I had a yellow squash soup that was out of this world. I had the sea bream, and it was delightful. Most of us did not like the daily pour for white, a savignon, but they filled the whole glass, then we all got whatever other choices we could get. Those with the red liked it. They did not offer to switch to red, and the service was rather casual but efficient enough. The petite fours were brought out along with the dessert menu. I had a nutty one and did not order dessert. We finished dining at 9:35.
Second Night - I joined the social hostess, Terry and one of the Distinguished Gentlemen and the lady from Britain I met the night before (Glenda), along with another guest, Bob. Glenda is 75, and Bob is 84. I had tomato soup with fresh basil (not bisque), a small portion of linguini with clams, greens with walnut vinaigrette and osso bucco. Again, I ordered no dessert. Unless you order the fish, the meat portions are ENORMOUS. We had asked for a quieter location on this night, and we were happier with this table. The center area can get quite loud. Third Night - informal - We all had the lobster. Glenda and I had the essence of pheasant soup. I had a salad. Jeannie and I had crème Brule (not on the menu), and Glenda had a passion fruit frozen thing that she repeatedly said was delightful. I asked for a Bordeaux and got Phully Fuse.
Fourth Visit on 6th night - informal (but was originally country club casual) I had dinner with Jeannie and the two distinguished gentlemen. We had a nice time. I ordered bisque. Again too salty but not nearly as salty as that soup at Signatures, which was inedible for my taste. I ordered sea bream, surprised they were already repeating the menu in only 5 days. For appetizer, I had fois gras, which was lovely and then I had a chocolate from the petit fours. Jeannie had chateaubriand. I know Mark had two soups, and he also thought the bisque was salty.
Entertainment I attended the shows every night that they had them. The next to the last night, the show was cancelled, and they were going to put Bryan G. on again, but for some reason, they decided to just have a movie in the Constellation Lounge. I did not attend that. The main entertainment was at 9:45 every night.
First night - for the main entertainment, there was a singer named Elaine that did Gerschwin and Cole Porter. This show was very pleasant. After the show, I went to Voyager Lounge and the Duo sang a wide variety of tunes. I left when they quit. I didn't know the disco was starting.
Second night - Bryan G. doing musical impressions and comedy, he was a fill-in since the sound system was not working. He came over from Navigator, though he regularly performs on RCCL. This show wasn't really appropriate for this audience. He did impressions that were a bit off-color. I walked out, but I heard the middle part of the show was not too bad. I found Bob (a nearly 85 year old widower that I met at a solo party, so funny, one night he had me laughing so much that my face hurt) sitting at Voyager Lounge, and we watched the karaoke. Some were excellent. Some were just having fun. The social hostesses stood where they blocked the screen so many of us could not see the words, but some of us knew a lot of them. After that, we stayed for the dance party. Bob left at close to midnight. I left at 12:30. I got to bed at 1 a.m.
Third night - this was another fill-in. He did British comedy and magic. Glenda laughed and snorted so much and then she went up to his Liar's Club game, but I went to bed. He is Mark Wahrgun or something. He was pretty good.
Fourth night - the production company did the Lullaby of Broadway show. They had tunes from Westside Story, Cats, South Pacific, 42nd Street, Les Miserables and one or two others. The boat was rocking, and those girls still danced it up on the high heels. The voices on these people were fabulous, and they got a standing ovation. Next, I went in and listened to the duo sing. They are so good and so talented.
Fifth night (Halloween) - The Three Divas were very nice. I enjoyed them immensely. They trained together 25 years ago, and I believe they said it was their first time to perform together. Next, I went to the scaraoki party. It was PACKED. The main singers from the production company were there and at the casino in costume and many guests and all of the social hostesses were dressed up. We saw a cigarette girl, a lady bug, a ghost, several dead people, including a dead bride and some people did cowboy or just goofiness. Many of us did nothing and just wore the glow rings they passed out. I started a balloon pass in the fog, and we were doing Monster Mash and others like Thriller in the fog. First they did a short karaoke and then a dance party. What a fun night, and again I retired at 1 a.m.
Sixth night - there was no main show due to rough seas. They had the movie Wild Hogs instead, and I was 2/3 sick from the wind in Marseilles, so I didn't want to sit in there till midnight watching a movie. They had a dance party in the atrium, and it was just the social staff singing. I wasn't too interested in that. I played roulette for a while and more than doubled my money. Everything in the casino works in USD. I more than doubled in 12 minutes, so I cashed out and chatted in Voyager Lounge for some time and went to bed by 11.
Seventh night - the production company did 60s, 70s, and 80s show tunes. They had a lot of costume changes and even fake fireworks. I went to Voyager Lounge and exchanged a few addresses. Then Glenda and I went up to the Observation Lounge and chatted with some people until almost one while we viewed the SPECTACULAR harbor view of Monaco. Money cannot buy those moments like that. The music there (Frankie on guitar) was very nice. Then we had champagne in her cabin and I copied off her photos.
Each night, there was something going on in every lounge. I thought it was all well put together. In Horizons, they had lovely piano music before dinner and offered ballroom dance music there. It was quiet and a good place to talk and relax before dinner. The gentlemen hosts were there for ladies that needed a dance partner. The duo performed at the Voyager Lounge, and they usually sang 60s and 70s music but threw in some 50s and 80s, as well. They did adult contemporary most of the time but threw in a little bit of country, including Cotton Eye Joe one night. I only found Frankie in Observation on the last night, but this seems to have been popular, though there were only maybe 6 people there when I went up the last night.
One night at about 6:15, the crew did a show with about a half dozen numbers, and they held up candles and flags from their native land. Also, there were times that they had other live music like at the deck parties and such.
Activities The cruise started out with a block party where on every deck, guests were told to grab a glass and come into the hall at 6 p.m. They passed out soda and wine and appetizers while people chatted and introduced themselves.
Daily, there was team trivia in Horizons Lounge during tea, and there was also a quiet tea at Observation Lounge, though I never tried it. Once, there was bingo. This was a cash bingo for cash prizes. Also, there were a number of Texas Hold 'Em tournaments at night and a couple of slot tournaments during the day with a $30 buy-in. I came in 6th out of 7th on my tournament.
The captain's welcome party introduced a few officers and gave guests a chance to mingle, but it was the 3rd night of a 7 night cruise, a bit late into it, I thought. Also, it was after the repeat guest Seven Seas Society party, and it felt like an afterthought, really. They did make a lovely video, but they would not make that one or the Halloween party one available for sale. The farewell party was two nights later on the 5th night, too early, I thought.
There was at least one thing going on every hour from maybe 7 a.m. until late at night. There was a whole fitness schedule with something I the morning and something in the afternoon. Also, you could walk the track or work out on your own. Also, the steam and sauna were completely available to guests, and towels and water were there, along with showers, though the women's shower was broken.
There were a lot of art auctions, but these did not interfere with anything else, and the organizers, Park West brought in their own interested parties and wined them off property and such to the point that a few were a bit embarrassing and falling down drunk a few times Not that many people witnessed this behavior. A lecturer gave six lectures on the region. I attended one on Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. All the lectures were shown on TV, and the lecturer offered to send audio free to anyone that asked. My cruise was hyped as a Jean Michael Custeau itinerary. Only one lecture was given, and this was during the Golf de Porto to Ajaccio overland tour, so I missed it.
There was a daily meet for guests that wanted to do shuffleboard, ping pong, tennis, or golf, and there were one or two organized golf events onboard.
They have daily quizzes, Sudokus and crosswords. Cabins have DVD players, and you can get two DVDs at a time until you turn them in for exchange. I found the selection rather limited, but I have a Netflix membership and a husband that makes sure we see a lot of movies. In the room, they ran 4 movie channels with movies that are mostly not yet on DVD or PPV. These changed daily at midnight and ran every two hours. I saw pretty much every movie I had not already seen. This program is being expanded before year's end when they will have video on demand and flat screen TVs.
Tours and Ports I did not do anything in Civitavecchia except board the ship. I spent all of my time in Rome. Rome was my favorite part of the trip, and this was self touring and exploring pre-cruise.
Livorno, Italy - I went on the tour in Luca up to a local farm. We passed Pisa and the leaning tower and saw a lot of beautiful scenery in the Tuscan hills. We had a brief winery tour at the Mionchi farm and had their wines and cured meats and cheese while we chatted in a cave. This location also has a charming restaurant and a shop selling the olive oil and wines, and they also offer rooms here, though we did not see the inside of them. This was quite a beautiful place, and the pictures did not fully capture the gardens and the hills in this area. Our local guide also served as a translator since our guide at the farm only spoke Italian. This was a lovely tour, but a few people wanted to leave early since they were still tired from travel, and it made things a bit awkward and stressful for those that wanted to enjoy the tour they paid for. Golfe de Porto and Ajaccio, Corsica, France - My tour, the overland tour from Porto to Ajaccio started at 7:30. I met Jan and Fred from Luxury Cruise Talk on this tour. We had the most spectacular views. We saw some churches and things along the way and learned some things about the local culture. The guide was born and raised in Corsica. We stopped halfway for some refreshments. They offered many coffee type things, sodas, and juices at a cost, and we were able to use the restroom. We headed on and eventually ended up at a spectacular spot where they had cured meats, cheese, and local award winning wine all laid out for us. There was nice bread and pickles, also. It was spectacular to sit out there. We joined the ship at 1 pm. after a mini-tour of the town where we viewed a couple of Napoleon statues (Ajaccio is his birthplace) and a few of the main streets.
Marseilles, France - I wish I had gone on the Aux en Provence market tour, but I did not want to go out early, and I did not sign up in time since the tour office closed early. I decided I would take a leisurely morning on the ship and then head out on the shuttle to town. There I planned to take the bus to Provence. I went all the way up to the St. Charles bus station, but I didn't find it. It turns out that the bus was leaving from the train station. Though the bus station and train station are close, I did not realize that the area with all the steps that I saw was the train station. I bought some nougats and caramels and chocolates at a local shop. I also bought soaps and spices. I walked until I couldn't stand it, and I made my way back to the shuttle bus that was waiting right there for us. I had rode the bus over with the lecturer from Cousteau. I heard he was his grandson but didn't ask. Bryan G was on the shuttle, too. He was telling of where all he performs. It sounds like he is Venice based and does a lot of RCCL. It was pretty cold and extremely windy. I caught cold and was very congested the rest of the trip.
Ibiza, Spain - I went to the south of the town tour. There wasn't much to see right now since season is over. The guide struggled with finding material, but he was nice and also local, and I ended up seeing sunset on the beach, so a nice hour of that sunset walking on the sand was nice. We also saw the local salt fields and stopped at a shop to sample a local dessert that they said was used for weddings. It was kind of eggish but hard to explain. There is a photo in the pictures. Here the tour included white coffee, also, but I did not have any. We had time to run in a local souvenir shop, and had we wanted to, we could have gone in the pearl shop next door. We also toured a local church here.
Palma de Mallorca, Spain - My tour in Palma (gastronomic tour) got cancelled, so I joined the Chopin tour. I knew nothing about it at all except it was supposed to be good and had space since they had added a 2nd bus to accommodate those of us that had nothing to do now. So, I thought, why not? What a good decision. We went up the mountain to the monastery where Chopin lived for some time. We toured all the rooms and saw the piano and many other things related to him and George (female) Sands. Next, they took us into a little restaurant in the town where our tour included sangria, orange juice, coke or water. They passed out cheese, cured meat, chicken croquets that were wonderful but didn't taste like chicken, and Spanish omelets. We also had chips and olives on our table. Next, they had a short Chopin concert for us. Although it was All Saints Day, all the shops in the little square there were opened. Many bought the man-made pearls. I didn't but liked them. I bought some deck shoes and a bag to bring home my purchases for the week. They had animal skins, glass, porcelain, lots of lace and many other items like leather jackets, shoes, etc. and then at the monastery they had calendars, Chopin CDs, etc. That tour went from 9 to 1:10 and was also led by a local guide Monte Carlo - I had not arranged anything, so I walked all the way around the harbor and up the hill far down. I saw the casino and walked thru a carnival. What an interesting thing. Some booths they were shooting the guns (like we do for stuffed animals) for Wii, Ipod, stereos, etc. I went to a grocery store and bought some Italian and French treats for 9.71 Euros.
Debarkation That morning, there was a beautiful sunrise from the port side. I enjoyed my cabin until 8:30, though the maid burst in at 7:20. I had a leisurely breakfast with Glenda. We disembarked at 9:45, as those with independent travel arrangements could leave any time between 8:15 and 9:45. My ride was there waiting to take me to Nice.
Nice I had requested early check-in at La Perouse, and when I arrived, my room was ready. It was before 10:30. Kathy (ChatKat on CC) and her husband, Frank were there, along with their friends Fred and Pat. My room was 101 and was a sea view balcony next to the pool area and just over the garden sitting area. The other floors have separators between their balconies, but the patio balcony rooms are rather non-private. It was still a beautiful spot, and the sunset there was breathtaking. I had lunch with Kathy, Frank, Fred, and Pat. Lunch was fun, and they introduced me to the market area and told me how it works. That area is in the old town next to the hotel. There are tons of restaurants there serving mussels, oysters, lobster, shrimp, crab and also pizza, pasta and other things. The market had fruits and flowers. I bought some dried strawberries and macadamia nuts.
They had to go since they were headed for the next Voyager cruise, but I strolled through the old town and along the promenade and ran into Glenda when I saw her sitting on a tourist train waiting for it to leave. I hopped on. We went all along the highlights around and were taken up the hill for nice views. I started walking along the promenade up from the beach. I went down on the rock beach some also. The weather was spectacular. Lots of people were just lying on towels down on the beach either looking out or reading, and a few were in the water. For dinner, I went back to the market. At night, they turn on warmers outside and add more tables. I ordered grilled lobster and cold crab. I had enough for two or more people.
Before dinner, I spent an hour in the hot tub up on the solarium at La Perouse. The view was nice up there.
The next morning, I had breakfast at 6:30 (they put it out early for me), and my ride helped me with my bags and helped me get through the line and speak to everyone at the airport.
Comments Regent Experience: The Regent Voyager proved to be a wonderful cruise experience for me. I saw many new places and had a good time. They attempted to teach us new things and entertain us with a variety of activities and shows. They attempted to have local foods and fresh fish as nice surprises, and I really enjoyed that. The embarkation did not make me feel at all special and gave a bad first impression. Service at the buffet meals was not up to par with my expectations. Service in the other restaurants was very nice. In particular, they should keep their maitre d staff, as they were touchingly helpful. I felt the Hotel Director was a little overwhelmed by my comments of what needed improved, but I believe he addressed all that could be addressed during the cruise and in retrospect appreciated the feedback. The other area that disappointed me was with my stewardess who could not learn my consistent routine and who didn't seem to understand why anyone would want anything to drink that was not in the fridge already.
This cruise was a special one that had a VP on board, and a panel session was held with the top officers. There were issues discussed with service, and they would not directly answer the question about whether they were paying the Asian staff as much as they would Europeans. They simply said pay had nothing to do with it and that people were paid in their own currency but that they could not easily attract Europeans due to the falling dollar. Clearly, whatever staff they hire, they need to polish the service.
Comparison to Silversea Cabins: cabins are larger than the smaller SS ships and the same size as the larger SS ships. However, the closet is smaller on Regent (but plenty adequate), which allows for a full couch vs. the loveseat style on SS. SS had more movie selection, but Regent is already addressing this issue in the next month.
Embarkation: On both SS cruises, we paid for the early embarkation. In one case we were greeted by tuxedoed staff. The other time, we were just greeted. Both times, I checked out the official embarkation time, and guests were offered champagne and made to order caviar and smoked salmon canapes. Also, SS has nice sail away parties on deck vs. block parties indoors on Regent.
Room Service: both lines have an extensive room service menu and will do dinner from the regular dining room menu during dinner.
Buffet Service: The buffets on SS are much more extensive even though the ships are smaller. They also ask if you want to order other items. They have a champagne breakfast, as well. You never touch your food on SS, they serve you from the buffet (except you get your own salad) and they carry your plate to your table. On Regent, you find it yourself and find your own table if you can. However, this improved during my cruise.
Food: SS has an older average demographic, and sometimes they do make dishes a bit bland. Regent was not afraid to make things spicy, which I loved. Conversely, Regent did make some dishes way too salty, particularly soups in all venues and all the dishes at Signatures. We are not into caviar, but it is still free on SS for the asking.
Restaurants: Regent Voyager certainly has more dining choices. On SS when I went to the Italian restaurant, I felt like I was missing the fabulous experience at the main dining room. I may feel like that on Navigator, too when I try them in December, but on this cruise, I loved trying the different dining rooms, and kudos to Regent for making them all free. L'Attitudes was a particular delight.
Pool Deck Service: This was much better on SS. They would come serve you even in the hot tubs. I went there daily, and this never happened. On SS, they misted daily and passed out fruit kabobs, ice cream or sorbet often. You could get food served at your seat (which I rarely saw on Regent), and you did not have to sit as long before someone offered a drink on SS. At the pool restaurant on SS, there were more selections on Whisper than Regent, and the whole service was just a notch above even at the restaurant. Pool bar service was similar at all 3 of my cruises.
Bar snacks: on SS, they put out mixed nuts, Chex mix, Japanese crackers, etc. The few times they had any snacks out on Voyager, they were ruffled potato chips.
Tea: on SS, they were using loose tea, while on Regent it was bags, and the tea time was more formal with more delightful choices on SS. However, I did not try the quiet one on Regent. Many guests on Regent enjoyed the coffee bar area.
Spa: I did not try the spa on Regent, but the seating areas on SS are more comfortable, spacious and pleasing to the eye. Facilities and treatment offerings, along with fitness class offerings were similar. Entertainment & Activities: I enjoyed this on both lines. SS moved away from the production shows for now, but I feel they will be back on the new bigger ship. I always enjoyed every show on both lines. Daily activities were similar. Trivia was much more organized on SS where an attempt was made to get team sizes fairly distributed. Everyone actually felt they had a chance that way. Also, SS has a nice golf program where there are a lot of activities with the pro, and the pro on the larger ships escorts a golf outing.
Turndown: Several times on SS, the chocolates are Godiva. Also, each night the lunch and dinner menus for the next day are presented, while on Regent, you must watch the TV and wait minutes for it to scroll back around if you did not catch all of it. Lunch menus were not presented on TV, either. You had to actually go to the restaurant and read them outside the door.
Overall feeling: On both SS trips, the feeling was more intimate, especially on Wind where they really tried to know you. Not much attempt was made at this on Voyager, but it is a lot larger. Crew on SS was much more polished, and the entire SS experience seemed more upscale. It is really hard to explain this one because it was an ambiance and a feeling, but I think the bad first impression and the inexperienced staff had a lot to do with it.
Tours: SS tours were always escorted, while Regent ones were sometimes escorted. This often made a difference. Regent took a lot of effort in giving tours led by local guides and always tried to throw in a local treat for a tasting when possible. Regent needs to be more aware that on a six hour tour, guests might need to go to the restroom, and stops should be planned.
Conclusion: both lines provide a nice all-inclusive experience. On each step up in size, the experience was less personal, though more amenities start coming with size. People that like good food and nice cabins and unusual experiences in exotic lands will enjoy either line.
Trip Home I bought some water and Coke Light past the security check. This was a good thing since we were delayed well over an hour without liquids. Heathrow was tough. We arrived 80 minutes late, and I did make my flight to Chicago, even with 100 minute trip between gates. This included a couple of long walks with a bus ride in between. Allow 3 hours between flights when connecting here if at all possible. My flight to Chicago on British Airways had no issues, and I had video on demand. They served a couple of mediocre meals and did a few beverage services. I had to claim bags in Chicago and go through customs before boarding my American flight, but I arrived in Houston 30 minutes early. It had been a long day.
Photos can be viewed at http://pictures.aol.com/galleries/debbieh103.