We just spent 13 glorious nights aboard Navigator. This was our 2nd time on Navigator and our 5th overall Regent cruise. We were originally booked for the May 8th Voyager sailing which was to go from Fort Lauderdale to Reykjavik, but the pod problem occurred and the cruise was cancelled by Regent. It wasn't the easiest thing for Regent to switch over our booking, but our TA kept on them and all arrangements were made to our satisfaction (they even included air on the return from Athens; I had asked for this because if we were to book the Monte Carlo-Athens segment alone, economy air was included).
We visited 7 countries in 13 days, beginning in Funchal, Portugal then on to Malaga, Valencia, and Barcelona, Spain; Villefranche, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Rome, Sorrento, and Taormina, Italy; Kusadasi, Turkey; and Santorini & Athens, Greece. Overall the weather was fabulous with the exception of some clouds and rain in Valencia and Barcelona.
The Navigator is still a wonderful ship, but I believe what really makes it wonderful are the staff and crew. We were called by name the entire voyage. "No" was not in their vocabulary. Even maintenance people who were occasionally in the hallway lit up with smiles and went out of their way to greet us. Service at all dining venues was superb. (I can only speak for dinner & lunch in the Compass Rose, dinner in Portofino, and lunch at the Pool Grille). We would dine in several different sections of the Compass Rose, and those who had waited on us previously in other sections would visit our current section to greet us. We felt so spoiled by the end of this cruise, I cannot even tell you! I think it has a lot to do with "treat someone how you would like to be treated" and it comes back tenfold. We always see complainers and you know, life is just too short for that.
Capt. McNeill was our captain for the 2nd time - so glad he was - he was every bit as congenial as we remember him. Always out and about, greeting guests and crew with that perpetual smile. Our sailouts were accompanied by his signature bagpipe music. I always get teary eyed at this!
We were assigned an F suite - 862 - in the aft. Not our first choice, but due to the last minute nature of our booking, we gladly accepted it. We figured the vibration would be bothersome, but it was such a non-issue! The most vibration we felt was in Galileo's - where it also felt like the ship was at a constant list. I understand that the ship has issues with plumbing and electrical, but we experienced no problems, nor did we hear about any from our fellow guests.
We participated in our first Liar’s Club which featured some of the Theatre at Sea celebrities. We were busting a gut, laughing so hard! We aren’t “show people”, but we did catch the finale of the Theatre at Sea and it was fabulous. Patricia Neal’s rendition of “Send in the Clowns” really got to me – the tears were rolling down my face. What a treat to be able to see her perform.
Embarkation and disembarkation were efficient and effortless. Housekeeping was consistently perfect – that is the one part of cruising that I so often take for granted because they seem to have it down to such a “T” that I don’t even think about it.
The Seven Seas Society parties (we got to partake in two!) had champagne flowing and nonstop generous portions of caviar with all the trimmings. The Cruise Consultant encouraged us to ask whatever questions we wanted to and didn’t stop until the last question was answered.
The casino was even nice to us this time around! I think we either broke even or were about $20 down, which is a definite FIRST for us on a cruise ship. They seem to have different slot machines than I recall from our last time on Navigator – the poker ones have multiple choices of games, plus you are able to place larger bets than I remember. It defaults on one dollar, so if you are low roller like me, watch out! I had to manually change the machine to 25 cents.
I must say that the highlight of this cruise was the food and beverage. I couldn’t believe how many choices we were given at both restaurants. I don’t recall that extensive a selection on either our previous Navigator or Voyager cruises. Not only were there lots of choices, but they were unique and creative. I am still salivating over my quail stuffed with seasoned foie gras. The portions were just right so that it was easy to order 3, 4, or even 5 courses. The temperature was always perfect and the presentation such that you don’t want to “ruin” its beauty. The tempo of each meal was ideal, as well. We never waited for more than a few minutes between courses (normally it was a matter of seconds), but the waitstaff was keen enough to notice if anyone in our party had gone to use the restroom, and in that case, the next course would not be served until the guest arrived back. And, of course, the napkin was half-folded and placed on the guest’s chair while gone, and quickly replaced in the lap upon return. Oh, we were so spoiled…
And on to the beverages. The bars were well-stocked and well-maintained, to say the least. Let me give you an example. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and observed that one particular bartender, Christophe (“Chris”) from France, had the most perfect bar I have ever seen. Every bottle had to be in its correct spot, and each was faced forward and spaced apart perfectly from its neighbor. Trays held exactly X amount of red wine glasses, X amount of white, and X of port glasses. Of course, these glasses were spotless because during his down time, Chris wipes them down with a napkin. The refrigerators held 10 each of the most popular beers (we only know because we asked – ha!), 3 poured glasses of chardonnay and 3 of pinot grigio, so that when a guest ordered them, they were ready to serve. I could go on, but you get the idea.
It seems I have skipped around a lot and for that I apologize. I wanted to get my thoughts down while still fresh in my mind.
After disembarkation (I, kicking and screaming), we spent 2 nights at the Grande Bretagne in Athens. We’d been there twice and it’s probably our favorite hotel of all. Our return flight was on USAirways, who just started a daily nonstop flight to Philadelphia. It was 11 hours long, but it was SO convenient not to have to stop somewhere else in Europe first (i.e., Frankfurt or Munich, via Lufthansa. We left at 11:45am Athens time and were at our doorstep in Fort Worth by 10:30pm.