My husband and I, along with two friends, decided to take this trip on Regent almost entirely for the itinerary. We were not disappointed! The cruise left Vancouver on September 9, 2009. We were 2-1/2 hours late leaving Vancouver because it took much longer to supply the ship than had been planned for. My understanding was that that had been caused by having to load on more supplies for the trip to continue on to the Far East after leaving Seward. Unfortunately, we had very little daylight left after we sailed.
Our impressions of the ship were that the cabins were very large and very-well appointed. The ship was extremely well-maintained.
We loved the fact that the fare is all-inclusive, including excursions for little or no additional cost. Fabulous idea! We were able to take any and all excursions that interested us -- something we probably wouldn't have done if we had to be paying hefty fees in addition to our cruise fare. We would have been picking and choosing with a bit less aplomb.
Now for the downside...My husband has an allergy to gluten (wheat, rye, barley and oats, called celiac disease) and needs to be on a gluten-free diet or there are consequences you don't want to know about. I had notified Regent on five different occasions of this problem, both in writing and by telephone, and was assured they were well-equipped to deal with this situation and quite familiar with it.
As a bit of background, we, along with our two friends with whom we traveled to Alaska, had been on a two-week Oceania Baltic cruise in 2006. Oceania had assigned a woman to deal with any questions my husband might have about what he could or could not eat. She was nearby at every meal and would check with the chef if she, herself, couldn't answer his question (usually she could). They would put menus for all the restaurants in our door each morning and my husband could look them over and find out what options he had, so by the time we arrived at our dining venue, there was no issue about the food. They couldn't have been more accommodating. We all were completely impressed by their graciousness and efficiency.
Comparatively, after these numerous notifications to Regent and being assured there would be no problem, at every meal my husband had to explain (usually over and over to be understood) what his issue was. As it was, only a couple of times did the server have any idea whether or not the dish had any gluten in it (or even what gluten, wheat, rye, barley or oats were). My husband ended up eating a lot of steak and salads. It was quite a contrast to the care given on the Oceania cruise.
There seemed to be a great deal of roll in the boat. One night I was literally thrown out of bed. That may have not been the fault of the design of the boat itself and simply a weather-related instance. However, all four of us were surprised at the amount of roll during the passage, even when there seemed to be little or no waves. That was only our third cruise (second on the Inside Passage) so I'm certainly no expert but our friends have a good-sized sailing yacht and were also surprised at the amount of roll.
Our last complaint was the naturalist. She was extremely well-informed and pleasant but her delivery drove us nuts. She spoke as if she was talking to a kindergarten class of children who spoke English as second language. E-v-e-r-y w-o-r-d w-a-s s-p-o-k-e-n s-o s-l-o-w-l-y a-n-d p-r-e-c-i-s-e-l-y that it became torturous to listen to her. One began to focus on her voice and, consequently, not on the information. As I said, she seemed to be a lovely person but, if she could only speed it up, I'm sure one would get more out of the narrative.
Please, don't misunderstand, this was a lovely cruise and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone thinking of going to Alaska. The itinerary was perfect. Nothing can compete with or diminish the jaw-dropping beauty and wildness of Alaska, so GO!
This was a very good deal and a great way to travel, particularly since Regent now offers the excursions as part of the fare. The all-inclusive fare arrangement is fantastic! It's wonderful not to be presented with some enormous bill full of drinks and incidentals as you're debarking on top of having to deal with all the tipping.
Lastly, we (the four of us) are planning another cruise in August 2010. This time we are going to Europe for two weeks and will be on an Oceania cruise.
Happy sails to you!