We felt let down in terms of service and the quality of provisioning on this trip. Perhaps some of the problems can be attributed to this being the first cruise after a drydock and they were simply not as ready as they should have been. However, I have sailed on Voyager after a drydock and had a wonderful experience. Something was definitely not right on this cruise as evidenced by the senior HQ staff that came onboard a few days after we sailed.
My sense is that the slippage in service, quality of meals, poor provisioning, low morale onboard of both passengers and staff makes me wonder if there are bigger issues brewing behind the scenes. I hope not because as a past cruiser I am a big fan but as someone who has to work hard to save money to go on trips like this I also want to get what is promised - at a minimum they should deliver on at least meeting my expectations based on my previous cruises on Regent. We also paid a premium as it was priced higher being a "holiday" cruise. Truly, after you make final payment, you have very little recourse - you lose the time spent on the cruise and you lose your money. You come home unhappy and disappointed.
Embarkation - This was a disaster. Poorly organized, passengers cutting in line, and it took a long time before we were onboard.
Cabin - I had great trepidation about our cabin location (non-balcony). However, we were pleasantly surprised. The location was fantastic especially during the rough weather we experienced on several days. However, we had a horrible sewage smell in the bathroom from the first day until the end of the cruise. Sometimes this smell was fairly significant in the hallway outside our cabin as well.
Crew - Our cabin stewardess was fantastic and the staff in Compass Rose, although a bit frazzled at times were very pleasant. The service for ordering wine/drinks in Compass Rose was very, very slow. Most of the front desk staff were really great especially the purser that had come over from Voyager (I can't remember her name but she is one of the nicest crew members on the ship). Senior Staff: Three senior officers stood out in terms of positive interaction with passengers - they were Capt. O'Neill, the Security Officer and the new F & B manager, Joe. They walked about the ship speaking to passengers and were always smiling and pleasant. For much of the cruise, several senior staff seemed like they were in foul moods. It seemed to me that the Cruise Consultant was not really interested in selling cruises even after a couple of attempts to try and do an onboard booking. The Cruise Director appeared not to be connecting with the passengers very much. My sense is that there was so much grumbling that many of the senior staff simply avoided the passengers.
Vibration - There is still significant vibration in the aft of the ship. We've sailed on Navigator before and did not notice much improvement. We found it to be most noticeable in the show lounge as well as when dining in Prime 7 and La Veranda. We had to leave a movie one afternoon because we found it difficult to watch/hear the show. We did find that it was somewhat lessened if the ship travelled at slower speeds.
Food/Service- We found this area to be highly variable. We had some very good meals and some awful, inedible meals. Some simple things such as breakfast foods and rib-eye steaks were poorly prepared - meat was tough; other items lacked taste or items such as wine or after-dinner drinks never arrived. Prime 7 was fine but I was not bowled over. La Veranda was not great at the beginning of the cruise but improved considerably by the end in terms of quality and selection. The same can be said for Afternoon Tea. The tea service vastly improved after the arrival of a senior staff member from HQ and a new F & B manager. The Pool Grill was variable - our orders never arrived on at least two occasions and the outdoor buffet which was often a highlight of prior cruises was just so-so. The ice cream had melted and refrozen several times so was of a grainy texture for the entire cruise. Overall, we found the food to be somewhat lesser in both variety and quality on this trip.
The shows/entertainment were largely unremarkable. The Krew Kapers, however, was great fun and well done. The excursions were also variable - some great, others just so so.
Spa/Fitness - This was a big improvement. Great staff and nice selection of equipment and classes.
Ship Common Areas (Lounges, Computer Room/Library) - these have been nicely redone. Lots of computers and great upholstery throughout.
So, all in all, we were not that impressed. I know that we were not alone in our assessment. By the third day of the cruise, there was fairly significant and vocal dissatisfaction throughout the ship. I cannot pin my own personal disappointment on one big thing but it was something more like "death by a thousand small cuts" - We started off with high hopes and perhaps our expectations were too high given what great experiences we had in the past on Regent. But expectations are funny things - Last winter we went on a large family trip on Holland America. I had very low expectations but they not only met my expectations, they exceeded them. We had a wonderful time and they are not a luxury line nor do they profess to be. But it was a very good experience.
That's what I had paid for and hoped to experience on Regent and it just didn't happen. Perhaps if I was not a highly satisfied past Regent cruiser, the letdown would have been less.