My husband and I greatly enjoyed our May 4 - 14 Istanbul to Venice cruise on the Mariner. As background: We are a couple in our mid 40s. We have traveled extensively, but this was only our 4th cruise, and our first on Regent. The cruise was chosen for the timing, length, and itinerary. Our thoughts:
EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION:
We arranged our own air and transfers. After a few days of sightseeing in Istanbul, we arrived at the port around 1pm. The check in process was very quick, and as the ship was just coming off of a short rehab / wet-dock, the cabin was immediately ready for us. Debarkation was also extremely easy. We just walked off the ship and quickly found our luggage in the terminal.
We were in a "regular" deluxe suite on deck 8. The suite is a nice size and didn't feel cramped. The mattress was just replaced and the entire room was in great shape. We found that there is plenty of space in the closet and drawers. The bathroom had good storage and we loved the rain shower head. Our room stewardess, Cecilia, was excellent. Comments: • The size of the safe in the closet is very small (e.g. no room for a laptop or larger camera etc). • We currently live in a very quiet neighborhood, so it was a bit louder than we are used to. It was OK at night, but we were woken up early every morning by the noise of people talking in the hallways, the sounds of neighboring cabin front and balcony doors being opened and slamming shut etc. (note: The room service delivery person can't really catch the door as he walks in because he has the tray in his hands. Consequently, the hall door slams closed very loudly after he walks in.)
Overall the dinning met our expectations. We expected and experienced generally good to very good meals and service...we didn't expect Michelin star like experiences, nor was it a big deal to us if a course or meal was not especially to our liking on occasion.
Compose Rose: The food was consistently very good in CR. For dinner, we were always immediately seated when we showed up (typically between 8:00 - 8:30). The selections, service and pace of the meals went well in the evenings. Unfortunately, the service at breakfast was not at the same pace. Each of the 3 times we tried CR for breakfast it was extremely slow, even though there were not many others in the dining room.
La Veranda: Buffets are not normally our first choice, but with the timing of the excursions, we usually went to LV for breakfast and some lunches. It was OK. It often seemed crowded and hectic and sometimes the "hot" food was not so hot. For dinner, our first experience at LV was disappointing. It was later in the evening, and the buffet was picked over and not visually appealing at all. The service was very slow, but the main courses ordered were good. We decided to give LV another chance for dinner, but this second time we went early (7 pm). It was a big difference! The buffet was full of interesting choices and was nicely presented. The service was much better as well. Lesson - go early for the best experience in LV for dinner.
Signatures: We thought that the food was delicious and the service, if a bit pretentious, was professional and smooth. We enjoyed our meal so much; we went for a second time, trying completely different choices and were equally impressed.
Prime 7: We have plenty of great steak houses in our current home area, so P7 really wasn't special for us. We went once and didn't try to go back. Perhaps if you lived in area where good steak houses are rare (pun intended), this would be a treat.
Pool area: We had lunch here one time, and the burgers and ice cream were good. We enjoyed the pool bar service most afternoons. Please note that it was always easy to find a chair in the sun and one in the shade, no chair hog problems at all.
Coffee Connection: Great idea! Loved stopping for a quick espresso and snack.
Room service: We had room service deliver coffee every morning. There is a place to indicate when you would prefer the service in half hour intervals. Each and every time they were early. On one of the first days of the cruise, we had marked the 6:30 - 7:00 time frame and the delivery employee was ringing our doorbell at 6:08 (we were still in bed!). The only comment when we questioned, was that they had many orders. It wasn't' a big deal and became a joke to us...how early will they be today?
Our time on the ship was primarily to relax, so we didn't take part in many of the ship activities....no trivia, games, casino etc. We often enjoyed a before or after dinner drink in one of the lounges. Our favorite spot was in the observation lounge when the ship was at sea. We didn't go to any of the shows in the large theater, except the "crew capers", which was sweet.
All of the employees came across as friendly and eager to assist. Room stewards/stewardesses were always quick to wish you a good morning/evening when you passed them in a hallway (even if not on your own deck). The bar tenders and restaurant servers were consistently friendly and pleasant. Overall great service!
The ship was full and had a very interesting and friendly mix of passengers. We had many pleasant conversations with our fellow cruisers
Overall the trip was a huge success. We originally booked this trip to: • Visit places we had not been to before on land trips and all except Venice were new; • Enjoy some well deserved R&R from work, and afternoons at the pool deck served us well; and • Celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in style, which we certainly did.
If the itinerary and timing are right, we would love to sail Regent again.