We had booked the cruise with a travel agency in Dallas. I had requested everything to be first class big handicap friendly suite for my parents, handicap friendly limos to and from the airport, etc. My Dad was recently diagnosed with Leukemia as well, so we wanted this to be a special cruise for the three of us and our caregiver. We had traveled on Carnival, Celebrity and Princess before. Carnival was a nightmarish cattle call of humanity...Celebrity was middle of the road with very unfriendly staff and Princess was great but crowded, so we were attracted to the fact that this ship only had 490 passengers and over 800 staffers.
After we booked the rooms (I was disappointed that no handicap rooms were available...more about that later), I researched the Navigator online. Apparently it started out as a Russian research ship, then was converted to cruise ship, refurbished in 2006-2008 and the company was subsequently sold from Radisson to Regent. The only negative thing I could find was a lot of discussion online about the famous Navigator rattling sound so I brought as portable fan with me just in case. After 8 days on the Navigator, let me just say that even with my room (531) right next to the dining room, THERE WAS NO RATTLING SOUND to speak of in my suite. I did hear some rattling upstairs prior to some of the shows but that was it.
My parents are almost 80 years old and spoke with many of their friends who had traveled on both Regent and Crystal and most found that Regent was far superior in service and food. The average age on Regent was also in the 50-60 range, while everyone told us that Crystal's age was about 80. All drinks are inclusive (Cokes AND spirits) with Regent, so that was a plus as well. We didn't book it until about 90 days before so we ended up paying about $3000/person. The airfare was booked using Advantage miles so we saved about $500/person there. American Airlines was wonderful to work with regarding my father's use of a wheelchair. They called me prior to our departure from Dallas. Someone from A/A was always there for us to help lift my Dad into his seat, whether in Dallas upon Boarding or Fort Lauderdale upon arrival and going back as well. KUDOS TO AMERICAN AIRLINES!!!
The limo to the airport in Dallas was great (memo to wheelchair users...better to get a handicap bus next time with a wheelchair lift) but the real nightmare was in Fort Lauderdale. Our travel agent's first screw up was booking a trailer/van to pick us up!!! There was no way my Dad could be lifted into that contraption so I had to call her and she snapped to it and got us a limo (for $210...the going rate for the 3 minute trip to the cruise ships). We didn't get to the docks until about 2:00 (after waiting 45 minutes for the new limo to show up) but once we got there I felt like royalty after being greeted by the Regent staff. They were everywhere!!! "May I help you..." "Yes sir..." "Let me get that for you..." Now I know we are paying for the service BUT IT SURE FELT GOOD!!!! We were greeted with champagne and they even rolled my Dad all the way to his room where we found the next nightmare....The travel agent had requested that a ramp be placed in the room so that the bathroom floor was flush with the suite AND IT WAS NOT THERE....HELP!!!! Well we called the Regent staff (Martha was especially helpful) AND THEY BUILT A RAMP FOR US IN ABOUT 30 MINUTES!!!!! AMAZING SERVICE!!!!
I went to my suite and was very pleased with the size of the room. It was especially spacious for me since I was all by myself in the room. Huge walk in closet with safe and wood hangers. Beautiful marble shower and separate tub. Big flat screen TV. Separate sitting area. At first I was disappointed that I had one of the few rooms with no balcony but honestly since I only slept, dressed, showered and ate breakfast in my room during the cruise, I really didn't miss it that much when all was said and done.
We changed for dinner and ate in the Compass Room. I loved the fact that there was no assigned seating (like being in the 3rd grade on most ships) and we could dine at whatever time we chose, within reason for dinner and breakfast. Also 24 hour room service, which their caregiver used at 1:00 a.m. to order a sandwich, which got there hot in about ten minutes!!! I ate breakfast almost everyday in my room after that and it got there right on time, was hot and delicious EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!!!!
After dinner they went to the show and I went to the casino. I love poker and craps and was disappointed that they had taken out the poker table, but was quickly assured by Helene, the casino staff manager that the craps table action would more than make up for it. AND SHE WAS RIGHT!!!! I spent most of the next 6 nights at the craps table either right after dinner or after the show for the evening and met some great folks there (Chet, Danny, Kirby, Richard) and the casino staff was fantastic!!!!! KUDOS TO HELENE!!!!!
Quite by accident we met the couple in 529, which was the room in between our two rooms and we spent the rest of the cruise with them (Holly and Joe) and their friends (Chris and Jamie). I won't say more, except we have met new friends for life and are still communicating with them and we have Regent to thank for bringing us all together (the first thing or the second thing?...what thing?...OOOOOUUUUUUU!!!!!) We ate dinner one night in Portofino's and was disappointed by the food...EAT AT COMPASS!!!
The shows that I saw were mediocre at best. The Buddy Holly impersonator was about as good as a bad Karaoke singer and the Vegas Rat Pack review was just awful (how can you do Elvis with no sideburns or sunglasses? how can you do Dean Martin without a drink in your hand??). My parents and their caregiver loved the Motown show and everyone talked about how our caregiver was dancing on her feet throughout the whole show (I guess she was easy to spot, what being the only African-American woman on the ship!).
There was always room at the pool...I never had to wait for anything...It was just wonderful!!!!!
One very bad incident. Our caregiver had a seizure in Puerto Rico (she had a history of heart problems) and had to be hospitalized and we later flew her home to Dallas...(NOTE...ALWAYS BUY TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE,,,IT PAID FOR HER ENTIRE HOSPITAL STAY, THE FLIGHT HOME AND ALL ARRANGEMENTS,,,WHEW!!!!).
The quality of food was excellent, especially the soups which were indescribably delicious!!! The level of service was amazing, especially since ALL TIPPING WAS INCLUDED!!!! I had a massage, which was awesome and my Mom had two complete makeover days (all free since when we boarded we all had any where from $300 to $600 ship credits given to us to spend on massages, cigars, Regent wear, etc.)
Look...if you want a non stop party cruise with lots of screaming and yelling and drunk idiots, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU...But if you want class, fine dining, great company, quiet and efficient service, then by all means...BON VOYAGE!!!!
I AM DEFINITELY CRUISING AGAIN WITH REGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!