This was our 3rd cruise on the Mariner to Alaska, from San Francisco to Vancouver; we have previously sailed on the Voyager to Europe. The hassle of air travel is making us look closer to home for cruises and Alaska and Regent cruise lines are both great.
We booked our own airfare using a mileage program and spent a couple of days in San Francisco in advance of boarding the ship. We arrived at the dock about 45 minutes ahead of the official embarkation time and were ushered on board efficiently; we exchanged our documents for a room key in record time and while the cabins wouldn't be ready for another 30 minutes, the staff kept us happy passing around glasses of champagne.
We have previously stayed in the Penthouse level suites. These suites are very spacious and comfortable and well equipped, but we decided to splurge this time on the Mariner Suite. Now, we'll never be able to stay in anything less. Extremely spacious, an abundance of windows and a very roomy balcony, plus an extra 1/2 bath. Our butler, Roy, did an excellent job at keeping us in wines. Butler service is nice; afternoon canapes are nice (except that we could never eat too much of this or we'd ruin dinner); but this is an extra that really isn't necessary.
The food on the Mariner is excellent. We like the main dining room the best, for its level of service, choice of foods, and overall ambiance. Being able to eat when and with whom you please is wonderful. Signatures, their French restaurant is always a treat - we don't find the food to be overly saucy or fussy. Latitudes, the Asian themed restaurant, has greatly improved - our only complaint is the crystal glassware: they're using the trendy stemless wineglasses which we find uncomfortable to hold and drink out of. Portions in all of the restaurants are on the small side, which enables you to have multiple courses without overeating.
The Mariner recently refurbished the Library/general reading area - now it's more efficiently organized and they've made room for a "Coffee Connection" area - sort of like a Starbucks cafe. It's staffed from morning till night, and they prepare excellent espressos, cappuccinos, chai teas, etc.; if you want various liquors in your drink, they're all available. There's also a small buffet, constantly replenished, that's available all day long here.
We always find the level of service to be consistently high and this trip was no exception. We particularly like the no tipping policy and the all inclusive wines and mixed drinks plus the stocked bar in your cabin. While we don't drink all that much, we definitely enjoy having wine with dinner, an occasional mixed drink in the observation lounge and sometimes an after dinner cordial. Regent stocks an extensive selection of name brand liquors, wines, congacs, brandys, etc. Anything you might want will surely be available.
Alaska is so scenic that even though we've sailed there 3 times, we'd go again in future.