We had a great experience on this cruise and felt that we got real value for our money. The mood on the ship was positive and upbeat. We met some great folks from this board and had plenty of enjoyable dinners and conversations.
Food and Wine - This was an area that really shined. The service and quality of food on this cruise was exceptional. Chef Cornel's menu selections were superb incorporating many old favorites (soft shelled crab, dover sole, beef wellington) as well as more local flavor (Greek poolside buffet, for example). We had many poolside buffets and they were all very good quality (Pasta buffet with an amazing large Tiramisu prepared in the largest paella pan I have ever seen; Indian curry, Greek, Mexican, etc). The wine selection was exceptional. We met a wine steward named Emmanuel early on in the cruise - he was fantastic. We loved every wine he suggested and he is a very pleasant individual - a great asset for Regent. Lots of "new world" wines served.On this cruise, I tried a number of selections from Chile - all really good.
La Veranda, Compass Rose, Prime 7 and Signatures were all superb. I would have to give the edge to Signatures over Prime 7 although we enjoyed our meals very much in both venues. Service in all the venues was prompt and pleasant even though we had a full ship. Most notably, great service from all Compass Rose staff, Prime 7 (Kerti, Chimi, Dinur(sp?)), La Veranda (Sylvester - Thank you). The F & B Manager (Davor) was very visible asking passengers for feedback and checking in with them regarding their food. Pool Grill service was great as well. I love the PG menu on the Mariner and we ate there several times post excursion. One issue I noticed is that on a full ship the space in front of the buffet line in La Veranda gets really tight - this space as it is configured is not ideal.
We had two "special" dinners in Compass Rose with our new CC friends - One was a curry dinner organized by Hambagahle and another one that arose during conversation at the Indian Curry dinner - we had an Indonesian menu for the second dinner (gado gado, soup, rendang curry and nasi goring). We had dinner with Elsa (social hostess), the Captain and other guests on the Captain's Farewell evening. Met some new friends that we have since been in touch with. Captain Felice is a very charming man.
Cabin - Our cabin steward Marte was fantastic. Keep in mind that the safes in the closet are much smaller than those on Voyager and Navigator and will not hold a small computer.
Excursions/Destination Desk - This was a port intensive itinerary and we grew tired quickly. We skipped one port (Olympia) and just enjoyed the ship that day. I am of mixed mind regarding the new included excursions policy. Some of the excursions were very, very good, others so so and still others were really bad so it is a bit of a mixed bag and this would likely vary with people's preferences as well. I had two minor suggestions in this area - 1) the timings for many tours were off by 1-1.5 hours so it was not possible to do two tours in a day in many stops. 2) Please have the disembarkation transportation fare options in line with local rates. For example, shuttle by coach bus to the airport was listed at $139 pp while local taxi rates for up to 4 persons was more in the range of 50-70 Euros.
Most of the Destination staff were really lovely (Thank you Alejandro) but a couple of times they were not - likely due to a really full ship and many demands for changes, etc.
Ports/Tours - I am happy to provide more detailed info on the tours we did - just ask.
Livorno - We did Highlights of Lucca - You could do this one easily on your own. Sorrento - We did Capri on the Lighter Side - Mixed review. We were left on our own from 11:30-3. It would have been nice to have a "return at your leisure" option for this tour. Would also like to see a shopping tour (gastronomic or fashion) for this port. Rome - We did the Rome Panorama - it was very good Taormina - We just took the shuttle in and wandered around. Corfu - We did the Panoramic here as well. It rained this day a lot and my recollection is that we spent a lot of time waiting for the bus to depart from different stops Olympia - skipped this one Montenegro - Great bus tour - 25 hair pin turns - Good tour company - loved the sail in/out of this port - timing was off for this tour Sarande, Albania - We skipped this one. Many folks said it was quite depressing. Dubrovnik - We did Dubrovnik Riviera - really well done tour but the timing was quite off Venice - Unfortunate we encountered dense fog upon entry into the Grand Canal so we missed this. We did the St. Mark's Square tour and we missed most of it trying to visit hotels to make arrangements for the next couple of days.
Reception - Great attitude, very helpful. Alistair is a very good Executive Concierge and went out of his way to help us make our final disembarkation arrangements. Alistair noted any special requests and always had great follow through. Brian, the Cruise Consultant is a very nice man. While we did not book another cruise onboard, I had a couple of really nice and informative conversations with him - an asset to Regent.
Coffee Corner - This is a really great spot. Marcelino and Kerti were exceptional and we met lots of great folks just hanging out here. Best espresso machine on the ship is behind the bar in this area. Mariner had a great supply of bestsellers, DVDs, and games.
Tea Time - Very well done.
Entertainment/Daily Activities - Won at trivia a few times. Dione and Chris (CD and Asst CD) were fantastic on this cruise. They brought plenty of enthusiasm and connected will with many of the guests. We only went to a couple of shows and these were fairly mixed. This is one area that still needs work in my opinion. Again, people's personal preferences would likely drive their satisfaction in this area. We were also fairly tired so ended up skipping several shows. Ballroom Bravo was great but the Broadway was not. One exception is a new singer to the Regent lineup named Melanie - she can really sing and I enjoyed her performances a great deal. My suggestion would be to start the shows a bit earlier during port intensive itineraries. I also missed not having a Block Party.
Lesson Learned - Book Regent's Air. Pay the deviation to select your own carrier and change of plans if you want to make changes. Due to the Volcanic Ash crisis, things were fairly chaotic onboard the last evening. They really did take care of stranded people booked on Regent Air and did so very well. They could have provided better information to all disembarking passengers but my sense is that the crisis was evolving as was their response. We had made our own arrangements and after a couple days stranded, we made it home.
Thank you Regent for providing us with a memorable holiday.