Trip to Fort Lauderdale and Embarkation
I booked this cruise after reading some people talk about it. I booked late in the game, so I had to take a category D guarantee to get a balcony. Regent has a fairly good single supplement policy, and I went for 140% of a one person rate. I thought I had a girlfriend that was going, but she got laid off and took a new job in a week and a half's time, so I took advantage of the good price on this 3 nighter on the 2 for 1 single as a chance to sample Regent Navigator. By the time I got down to the cruise, it had not been long since I had done Regent Voyager Western Med in late October, so I was pretty excited. In addition, I had also just come from Silver Whisper Dubai to Mumbai a few days earlier with my husband, so I was also rather tired.
I'm a travel agent, but I did pay full fare, less my commission for this trip and have paid a pretty penny for my 5 luxury cruises, so I hope the readers will consider me a reliable source and value the detail in this review. Other similar cruises have been one Silver Wind cruise, two Silver Whisper cruises, and one Regent Navigator cruise.
I was not anxious for any overnights on this trip since I had been traveling a lot this fall and because it was going to be close to Christmas and my husband's mandatory vacation week when I got home. I took a non-stop Continental flight from Houston IAH to FLL same day, risking checking a big suitcase. I got down there plenty early and took the short trip to the Port Everglades terminal with a lovely gentleman driver from Jamaica. I have had well over 70 resort stays in Jamaica since 1992, and this gent and I had a lot to talk about. His conversation in the short drive was quite spiritual and touching, and I felt blessed to meet him.
I arrived at 11:20 and was seated by the most lovely lady shortly after someone swiftly handled my bags.
A few minutes later, here came Sue and Tom from my travel group. Sue is another agent that I have known since the early 90s online but had never met. Meeting them was a perk of this trip. I chatted with the couples next to me as we curiously debated what had come from the short dry dock before our cruise.
Promptly at noon, they boarded by row, and we were marched into line by the lovely lady. We had our pics taken and handed over our passport . We boarded and received our champagne and were told we could dine on deck 10 while we waited for the suites to be ready. We had our choice of the Portofino's buffet or the Pool Grille. I chose the buffet, as the grille really had no seats available and I wanted to see what the buffet had anyway. There were about 25 people in line, but it did move along, and in a few minutes, I was seated with a nice plate and had lovely table service from the warm staff.
My Ship Tour
After that first lunch, I decided to self tour. I checked out all of the public areas. I checked out cabin 1125, a Navigator Suite. I liked it but was not overwhelmed by it by any means. I meandered along and saw the steward staff working so hard to ready things for us.
I noted in the public areas that the layout was more unique than the Wind, Whisper, and Voyager. There were some cozy nooks and lounges that were a bit different, like the Navigator lounge. The casino was bigger than I was expecting. It is bigger than Whisper and I think as big as Voyager. They offer roulette, black jack, craps and some other games and also my fav, video black jack where I play with only the dealer and can change my betting amounts.
The pool deck seemed a bit small, and the pool didn't seem to be in too good of shape with the faded wood, but when guests got around it and it had the real swimming water, it seemed much better. The deck did remain crowded on this short cruise, and often the hot tubs were double-stacked with guests sitting outside and inside. I did not get my usual time in, but the water was perfect in the hot tubs when I did get in.
Other Thoughts on the Ship
The spa had a relaxation room. It was small but serviceable and somewhere to sit and wait for the staff vs. the not great area on Voyager and the stellar area on the SS ships. The steam room was not large but was great with all of the appropriate amenities. The spa staff were all ready to help.
The lounges tended to fill up completely. You did have to work a bit to get a pool deck table at a meal or a seat, but it was not very much effort to join someone or anything, and that was always a nice experience.
There was so much charm to the ship, and I really loved how they had it decorated for Christmas. They pretty much had all the facilities you could want except perhaps one more specialty restaurant.
There were a number of shops, and with the vendor losing their contract, everything was 50% to 75% off. I picked up some awesome Cartier sunglasses and a Regent polo shirt. Others in our group bought some clothes and jewelry. With the short cruise, they were busy when not in port and didn't have time to go look for additional sizes or styles of anything.
I had a spa treatment on the first full day that I booked from the boarding special. It was two twenty minute treatments that they combined into one 45 minute treatment doing the facial and neck and shoulder massage. It was $79, and nobody even mentioned selling me a thing. I REALLY enjoyed this experience and recommend the spa. Look for deals, as the regular rates are over $3 a minute for most things.
I went to my cabin on my own, but I had taken the precaution of having nothing but my purse and laptop with me, and I didn't need assistance. I was in cabin 840, a portside category D. The cabin had the Aveda amenities. As expected, it had the single marble sink, plenty of shelves, a tub that was long and thin with a shower head in it and a separate shower stall elsewhere in the bathroom. Also, there was a walk-in closet with plenty of drawers and hangers, a bed with an inviting duvet and a full sized couch. Recently added that cruise only were the new LCD TVs. These were nice, but the old marks on the table were there from the CRT TVs, and the reception was not HD. The cabin had a DVD player. An advantage of Regent Voyager and Navigator has been the full sized couch that I really enjoy. Mine had two huge black stains the size of quarters that shouldn't have been there after dry dock, but they did not bother me too much. My closet had a safe that had the number pad totally ripped off and hanging two inches out, and the whole label was ripped in two. This didn't really bother me, either as I have never felt unsafe on Regent for a minute. This should also not have been found after dry dock.
There was the dressing table and the desk, both with European and US plugs and plenty of lighting throughout. I had plenty of glasses and was greeted with the welcome champagne. My stewardess arrived promptly to introduce herself and the suite and ask for liquor preferences, if any. She did not seem too knowledgeable on policies or offerings on anything, but she was professional and mature in answering.
The suite had a nice balcony. I discovered on the second day when trying to sit in chair two that it was totally ripped in two. They took it and did not replace it. I did enjoy my balcony, though I found the door hard to open. It had a definite technique to it that took two hands, but it was consistent with me, so I learned the first time. I was never short on glasses, and I always had good turndown and morning service from my stewardess. She was fairly non-instrusive. I had a lovely time relaxing in this suite, and it was very cozy for me in the time I spent there. I wish the cruise had been longer so I could have laid around more (and spent more time with my companions).
In addition, wifi from the cabin worked just great.
One addition to my cabin was a lovely door sign that I received from Beth, a member of the LCT unofficial group with which I was traveling. I felt special every time I walked up.
Guests of Regent Navigator
This was the crown jewel of this Navigator cruise. I heard about this cruise from Beth and then Diane, members from a popular online board. Then I booked the cruise after studying it and found a number of others would be on board, including Sue, someone I have known online since the early 90s but had never met.
I met Sue 15 minutes after arrival to the cruise terminal, and I really felt blessed from the short times we spent together, and I enjoyed meeting her husband and friends. I also met Beth, Diane, Crystal, Wes, and Ida from the internet. I can't even describe how fabulous all of them are. Along the way, I spent a lot of time with them and also some people we met - Callen, Coleen, Stuart, Stephanie, Adrien, another Diane, Scott and Joe. Each of these people touched me in different ways, and some down to my core. You never know when you have a conversation with someone where they are in their lives, and sometimes just a few sentences or one deep conversation really has a long-term affect on someone. Bright lights, please keep shining and touching people's lives. It is all worth it. I also met Rose and some others at the Stars disco nights and had a barrel of fun in dancing with them until the wee hours every night.
We did see a few kids, and I had one enlightening conversation with a 7 year old in the hot tub. They were part of their families and did not wreck anyone's time in any way. With the short cruise, the average demo seemed to be in the 35 to 55 range, so we saw people out and about, though there were people from childhood to 80s, and all were great and having fun.
The ship did feel full, and there were some that a few times seemed like the bubba crowd on some rare and short occasions like the lifeboat drill, but it was pretty much a non-issue.
All of us solo ladies ended up together every meal, and now and then, we had a couple and/or some single gents with us. The food was always good, as was the company.
Portofino's was where I always had breakfast. It was easy to go there and just join others from our group. I typically had fruits, along with tea and maybe some eggs and that fabulous crispy bacon they need to bring to my house. It was Americanized, but so was the clientele.
For lunch at Portofino's, there was always a hot and cold soup. I really enjoyed a curried soup I had one day, and I know there was another good one I had. I love soups on ships and at resorts, and nothing was salty or cold. One day, I had some incredible rainbow trout. There were always 3 or 4 entrees, many tasty salads and fruits and pastas made up and also to order. They had a few desserts, but I am not really a dessert person. I saw others enjoying. Wines were OK, and service was good.
One day, I tried the Tex Mex on the pool grille. I sat in a pool lounger but later joined others from our group. It was neither Tex or Mex, but I did enjoy the vegetarian soft taco and salad I made up. The sweet boiled ribs were not to my taste. Others not so critical did enjoy. Other dining choices were readily available.
For dinner, two nights, we were at Compass Rose. I picked steamed mussels from the appetizers and asked for an entrEe portion the first night and had lobster the other night. I didn't like the lobster sauce and didn't eat it, but others loved it, and I was full from all the other outstanding courses. I loved the appetizers, soups and salads. I always do and don't ever really need an entrEe. I saw some huge, well prepared steaks and such that delighted some of my tablemates, and the most unusual was the "iceberg salad with olives" that Scott ordered that had no lettuce and at least 30 olives. He ate them all, and he looked a little green afterward, but he rallied on to the entrEe and dessert.
Our dinner in Portofino's included 16 of us at 3 tables that we prereserved. We started out with the European meats and cheese, along with the wine tastings. Guests and staff mingled here for 30 minutes. Then we went in to the dining room. We could not get our 3 tables together, but we got up and checked on each other throughout the meal (I hope we didn't bother anyone). A couple of our bunch participated. Adrien did the tambourine, and Ida kicked and danced, while Callen pointed to his table at the wrong time and led the staff into believing he and Coleen should be the recipients of an anniversary cake. After Coleen blew out the candle, the cake was literally ripped from their arms. It was all good, and we had a fantastic time chatting and joking about it after the freshly prepared meal. The entertainment was great, with Vincenzo sounding more like Sinatra than Sinatra. I was exposed to the puckering Limencello for the first time, too. Diane, the model and I wanted something else besides the entrees they had, and we were accommodated to my surprise.
I did enjoy the petit fours at Compass Rose, with a particular nod to the tiny canoe-shaped fruit tarts.
With the cruise being only 3 nights, people were socializing a lot. We had a few activities when not in port - chatting on the pool deck (yeah!), talking on the internet, doing trivia and bingo, gambling and shopping, and dancing the night away. I loved all of these activities and really bonded with people sharing them.
In the ports, I had my two days doing shortish outings with Beth. We did the aquarium in Key West and walked around some. We both went out again later but not together. In Nassau, we cabbed over to Atlantis on Paradise Island and took pics of the public areas and tried our luck a bit.
I went to both of the production shows. I really liked the Vintage Vegas and the Motown shows. I know Stuart wasn't in love with the Vegas show, and some others were not as enamored as I was. I was right up front, and I enjoyed having the costumed shows. They also had a staff show and another entertainer. I did not make those. The girl doing the disco was a delight. She seemed to have some issues with the equipment to overcome, but we did enjoy not singing karaoke and dancing and chatting up there in Stars anyway. They had a Beatlemania live show where they did not sound like them at all, and the dancing to music was better afterward.
Disembarking and Trip Home
I had a nice last breakfast with Adrien and said goodbye to Sue. I ran into Diane, and she and I shared a cab to the airport. I was pretty early and chatted with a couple for 30 min. and then boarded my non-eventful flight back to Houston.