Our first cruise on the Voyager was full of surprises. Starting with the email notice from Regent that due to propulsion system problems our cruise would be shortened from 7 days to 6 days and eliminate the Guatemala port. Regent allowed a refund for the missed day and a shipboard credit which wasn't easy to spend given the few shore excursion options and the very expensive on board shop offerings. A more pleasant surprise was the size and decor of our category H (the least expensive)suite. It was more roomy and better furnished than the Mariner suites and the bathroom was really nice with a separate shower. This was our sixth cruise on Regent. The Voyager has the best suite layout by far.
We drove to Ft. Lauderdale from Northwest Florida and parked close by the Pier. Boarding was a little slow due to late clearance by the Coast Guard as the ship arrived from its transatlantic crossing a day late. Once we boarded the usual Lido buffet was available and the free liquor was flowing at all bars.
The food on board was excellent. We could not get reservations in Signatures but after reading recent reviews and talking with other passengers we didn't feel like we missed too much. We enjoyed the last night of Latitudes and can't understand why Regent is replacing such a popular venue with a Steakhouse. Compass Rose serves lovely meals and the wait staff tries to attend to all diners but the dining room management does not do a good job of seating people. You must wait until the table is filled before ordering and starting your meal. If you are seated at a table for 8 late in the evening you may have to speak to someone to get service started. Our dining companions one evening had bad food and the assistant manager offered his apologies. The Lido buffet had a wonderful selection of food for breakfast and lunch each day. The outdoor specialty luncheons had wonderful food but the buffet line was long, slow and designed by someone who must be directionally challenged. It is hard to complain about grilled lobster tails and filet mignon so I will just handle the lines. The Lido transforms itself in the evening to the best place to eat on the ship, the Italian bistro. The food and service were fabulous and the staff really seemed to enjoy serving their guests.
Entertainment was good and the performers were all over the ship making conversation with guests in the public areas and lounges. That is a personal touch not found on many other cruise lines but a plus for Regent. A disappointing surprise was the lack of chocolate demonstrations and lectures. The cruise was advertised as a 'Spotlight on Chocolate' with a representative of Valrhona chocolate on board. A substitute gave an informative talk about Guylian chocolate which is made in Europe but it was not the superior Belgian chocolate we expected. The Voyager staff never gave an explanation of the switch and just kept saying the chocolate didn't arrive on the ship.
We loved the idea of the Block Party held early in the cruise. Regent rings a bell and has the Captain and Cruise Director race through the cabin areas meeting and greeting all guests in their hallways. The staff poured wine for all and we met our neighbors in a fun atmosphere. From then on we greeted each other by name or with a smile. What a super idea!
Disembarking was easy and due to the long drive home we were allowed to get off with the first group. The ship was headed to Freeport for ten days of dry dock refurbishment. I hope they don't change too much about the Voyager........we liked it.