Istanbul - Venice
First I wish to make clear that Regent staff on board the ship are one of the best. However, I also wish to be very very clear that Regent corporate staff are simply one of the worst.
For this cruise I selected an F category cabin. For whatever reason Regent corporate thinks that Handicapped rooms are equivalent - trust me - they are not. The cabin assigned to us was poorly maintained (woodwork bashed, mattress was equivalent to a third rate country flop house, shower head damaged) and did not contain either a bathtub or a sofa. Other non-handicapped cabins were nicer in all aspects. Therefore any relationship to this handicap cabin being equivalent is absurd. I would however be completely upset if I had been truly handicapped. This room was completely substandard in relation to other cabins of the same or even lower class that were non-handicapped. In my mind it is only a matter of time before the "disabled" community goes after Regent corporate on their total lack of equal standards.
A note to remember - when talking with Regent corporate prior to your cruise - simply understand - they do not know what they are talking about and will tell you anything to get you off the phone. I was told that handicapped rooms all have couches and glass showers - no, they don't (so why do they lie or guess?). Also, I made reservations online for the Portofino Grill only to find out that no reservation existed. Again corporate staff dropped the ball.
On a happier note we were transferred to a different cabin at the beginning of the cruise to the last cabin on the stern of the ship. (only cabin available) Yes, there is massive vibration but that was preferable to no bathtub or couch. If you cannot handle loud noise and "massive" vibration - do not even consider anything other than the middle of the ship. I did find that ample digestion of alcohol does reduce the vibration to the point of total bliss.
As I touch on random topics I did wish to speak on the subject of smoking. Yes it does occur on board. Yes, it does occur in cabins and balconies (much to the chagrin of the smoke police on board) and yes non-smokers are still offended by non-smokers in the smoking areas. Such is life. Personally I am offended by women who think they must take a bath in nauseous perfume. Perhaps we can outlaw that next. BTW, I am a non-smoker.
Status of the ship is simply - worn out. The overdue retrofit of the ship is much needed. Carpet are shot, tables worn, couches bad shape, chairs scuffed - you know the typical wear and tear of years of abuse. Personally if I had known how bad a condition the ship was in - I would have demanded a reduced rate.
"Free Shore Excursions" - First, nothing is free. Second - we went on two of these excursions and both were planned by Regent on maximizing structured sales pitches by vendors on shore. A sad commentary but true. Not only that but on the Venice excursion we coughed up an additional $100 bucks to have a private gondola ride - with the excursion lasting 2 and a half hours. Trouble was that for an for the first hour and 55 minutes we were turned loose in St. Marco square to "shop". Therefore the actual gondola ride lasted only 35 minutes. Consider this excursion a - Ripoff.
I would recommend private excursions - better value for your money.
Ports - We did make one change on the itinerary with was substituting Corfu for Albania - a good decision.
Food - without doubt this was the best aspect of the total cruise. I have cruised on several cruise lines and Regent is one of the best with regard to food. Prepare to feast.
Again, I wish to reiterate that shipboard staff were helpful and professional. I wish I could say the same for Regent corporate. It amazes me that answers to passenger questions were simply so wrong. If you don't know the answer - then Regent staff should either not answer or find the correct answer. Making answers up simply leaves one with a bad taste.For this reason alone I will never cruise with Regent again.
So, on a scale of 1 - 10 I would rate Regent cruise line a 6.2.
For comparative purposes I would rate Celebrity at 8.8 and Holland America at 7.9 with Royal Caribbean at 5.9.
Regent in my mind simply does not live up to its hype. My experience is that Regent falls behind Holland America and Celebrity in terms of quality.
Overall not a bad cruise experience - but one that could have been much better.