We enjoy cruising (1 or 2 per year) and usually book one of the premium lines. Until recently Regent was our favorite but the bloom is now off the rose. Overall service and particularly dining service and quality has slipped very noticeably. We have experienced such on our last two Regent cruises.
Our most recent cruise was on the Mariner last month from Fort Lauderdale to Lima, Peru. The Mariner continues to be a very elegant, well-appointed, and well-maintained ship. Cabins are spacious and recent modifications were very nicely done. That part of the Regent experience remains the same - truly first class!
The service decline is an issue though. Cabin attendant service was fine but dining has slipped significantly. Overall dining service, food choices, and food quality is not near what it used to be. The experience in the Compass Rose (main dining) is something you would expect on Princess or Celebrity - adequate but not exceptional by any means. Signatures was somewhat better but still a concern. Our experience in Prime 7 was up to par with our expectations although others on the ship had complained about their experience there as well. On four occasions it took nearly 3 hours to complete a meal - unacceptable for any restaurant at any level! One of those cases was in Signatures where the entree was not served until 2 hours 10 minutes after being seated (yes, I did precisely time it!)....we then had to gobble down our dessert hurredly and half-finished so we could make the show that evening. A premium dining experience? The captain apologized by saying the problem was a "full ship". Unacceptable answer when you are paying for premium service and quality. Overall quality of food has slipped as well...little things like the shrimp are not as large, the lobster is not as evident, the steak quality variable, etc. On a couple of occasions the wait service in the Compass Rose was like a comedy act with food continually being served to the wrong places at the table - it was like passing the plates around the table at a family dinner. This contrasts with an overall dining experience we had on Azamara last summer that we rated as the best we have had on any ship....but at half the price of Regent.
In fairness I have to say the wine service and selections were excellent - very well thought-out and accommodating regarding alternatives and favorites.
Excursion management has never been a strong suit for Regent in our opinion. However the free excursion policy seems to have exacerbated such. We could not get our first choices for excursions even attempting to book 4 months in advance on their website! The excursion manager said the problem is people tend to abuse the policy and book multiple tours even though they don't use them. I don't know if that is the case but perhaps Regent should rethink the free excursions and simply reduce the cruise fare by that amount. It seems it would be simpler for all.
We did very much welcome and enjoy Regent's new resort casual dining policy - i.e., elimination of formal and informal nights.
Bottom-line....Since one pays top dollar on Regent one should expect to receive the very best service and quality across the board. That used to be the case but is no longer and has shaken our allegiance.
Regent...please get your act together and bridle your bean-counters!