Seven Seas Voyager Cruise Review by Madam81: Regent Voyager Big Disappointment
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Regent Voyager Big Disappointment
I went on this cruise with a long-time friend and our previous experiences have been primarily with Celebrity (which I love) and Princess with whom we will sail shortly. I had extremely high expectations for this journey since it was my first "luxury cruise" experience. My expectations were not met, and I would give this experience a TWO-STAR rating.
On the upside, the stateroom was lovely and spacious with a great walk-in closet. I really liked the flat screen TV with the huge movie selection, but alas never had the chance to watch it. I also liked the convenience of everything being prepaid and not having to whip out your card everytime you got wine/coffee/whatever, although I think this contributed to lower quality service since staff lacked the incentive to earn a generous tip.
Now for the downside. The food was just OK, but there seemed to be more preoccupation at dinner with "presentation" than with tastiness. The salad choices were very limited and More many of the entrees were not appealing to me not usually a problem on other ships. (I am not a picky eater.) We ate one night in the Prime specialty restaurant where I had lobster. While the lobster was huge at least 2 pounds the tail meat was not that tender and it was rather a disappointment.
Lunch in the Verandah restaurant was also OK and the usual buffet style. I was however unpleasantly surprised that you were left on your own to find a table and walk around aimlessly with your plate until you did. (On Celebrity there is always someone to immediately take your food and find you a table. Also to get you water/soft drinks/etc.)
With regard to room service (which was prompt), coffee for 2 equaled 2 cups in one small pot and was extremely weak. Definitely not for Starbucks fans! After a couple of days of this we went up to the Verandah and did it ourselves. (Coffee not great there either but much better and improved over the week.) However the staff there was not attentive in early morning and we sat there one day for a couple of hours before someone actually asked us if we'd like anything.
As to the itinerary, many of us felt that it was too port intensive. Knowing this in advance and living through it are two different things. Since we were in St. Petersburg for 3 days, and you could not leave the ship unless with a tour, everyone had booked nonstop excursions. Then many of us started canceling them due to jet lag and sheer exhaustion. My friend and I both opted for sleep over Peterhof at 8 am, and I skipped the Hermitage. For this itinerary you might generally want to think of a longer cruise with some downtimeor Regent may reconsider its itinerary.
The most disturbing aspect of this trip I saved for last. Due to a family emergency (i.e., a death) at home we needed to change our air to come home directly on disembarkation. It took more than 24 hours and numerous trips to reception to get this done. The original rebooking (done through their office in the States) put both of us on the same flights to the same city. Since we live in different cities, this needed to be fixed. After much ado, we had ticket info and confirmation numbers. Then we reached the airport where they couldn't find a record of the tickets. In Stockholm we had to see a supervisor who somehow found the reservation and sent our luggage through to our final destinations. However she could not issue us boarding passes for the flights from Frankfurt where they had our reservations but no record that we'd paid for the ticket change. Many Thanks to an absolutely wonderful and patient ticket agent with Lufthansa who was able to reach someone at Regent (in the States) and confirm the payment. Of course this is all taking time, causing stress, etc., and I was ready to pay again and sort it out later.
Overall and even without the ticket fiasco I was extremely disappointed with the service on this ship and find it hard to believe that they have the highest crew to passenger ratio in the industry. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
If you are leaving from here it is defintely worth a pre-cruise stay. Also the port is extremely convenient to the extent that there is shopping directly opposite the ships and the hop 0n/off bus circles through. Regent might consider an overnight in Copenhagen rather than the extended Russian stay.
However US citizens are very restricted here without a personal visa and the tours were highly regimented. The guides were knowledgeable and spoke excellent English, but you are definitely prevented from meeting "real Russian peoople." The experience at Customs (you need to do this each time you get off/on the ship) was not particularly pleasant. Two passengers were pulled out at Customs and accused of trying to smuggle an authentic Russian artifact that was in reality purchased at the tourist shopping area we visited. I'm told they were interrogated for two hours and had their passports taken. They were then allowed back on the ship but were later visited by Russian authorities who demanded they sign papers (in Russian) before they'd be allowed to leave. I gather a translator was provided, but did they have a choice?
I resolved to spend no money in Russia and held to that. The tourist shopping areas were described by others as overpriced and operated by people who immediately became rude if you did not purchase anything.
While this is definitely a destination worth seeing, 3 days was too much and you should think about the imposed restrictions. Also, even with a personal visa, it is not somewhere I'd be comfortable roaming on my own and the port area is a very significant distance from any area where you might find a cab or other transportation.
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