The majority of sailings in Alaska for 2010 are one way trips from Vancouver to Anchorage or the reverse, so this itinerary is fairly rare in that it embarked and disembarked in Vancouver. We opted for this sailing because we were sailing with my partner's parents and with some friends of our from Arizona. Some in the group wanted to take care of their own air, so this itinerary made the most sense from a fiscal standpoint.
We arrived in Vancouver a few days before the cruise and stayed at L'Hermitage, a small boutique hotel at the corner of Robson and Richards. It was more like staying in a nice apartment because it had a living room, sun room, bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and kitchen. The kitchen had Sub-Zero refrigerator and Bosch appliances. We had a great stay there and it was easy to venture to various parts of downtown quickly either walking or by cab.
We arrived at the terminal at approximately 12:20pm. We were on the ship having lunch by 12:40pm. Very smooth and efficient embarkation. It may be the quickest one I have ever done.
We were in a Penthouse B suite, 1018. On Navigator, all rooms from Category H up to PH A are all the same. Cat G and H rooms are same size minus balcony. Cat F up to PH A are same size room plus same size balcony. Our friends were in Cat H and it was just as wonderful as the PH B we had. The suite was immaculate and remained immaculately maintained throughout the cruise. Our butler, Felix, was excellent. He even helped us dine at Prime 7 a second time. The bathrooms on Navigator are a bit better designed than on Regent's Mariner because they have separate showers and bathtub. The location of this suite was wonderful. The PH A suites above have the gym and spa above them, but the PH B on Deck 10 have none of those noisy treadmill runners above them. Also, PH B suites are on the same deck as the pool, which is nice to be able to nip out and see the surroundings passing by. 1018 was also fairly mid-ship, so a little less movement. We did not feel vibration in this room, but vibration was VERY noticeable in the aft part of the ship, esp. in Galileo Lounge, Stars Lounge, and La Veranda, the buffet. I did hear some passengers who booked Cat F (the suites in the rear of the ship) complaining about their difficulties sleeping, etc. I don't think I could have done it. The amazing thing is that those who sailed Navigator before and after refurbishment seemed to think the vibration was 70% less than it used to be since they refurbished the ship (including some new work on the tail and hull).
Navigator has the Compass Rose (main dining room), La veranda (buffet), the Pool Grill, and Prime 7 (Specialty Steak House). Also, 24 hour room service. Food was consistently good, but not great. This is all very subjective. I still think Oceania has the best food at sea. Regent is good; don't get me wrong.
The most interesting thing on this cruise was service. Overall, the service is outstanding. The one place this fell down was in La Veranda. No one offering coffee yet no self serve station for coffee. No one offering made to order egg dishes when you cannot order them at the counter (a sign there reminds you to order from a server). At lunch, same thing, no one offering water, drinks, etc. Dinner, no better. This seemed really odd to me seeing many of the folks in La Veranda provide excellent service when working in Compass Rose or elsewhere. I actually brought it up with many examples on the Comment Card mid-cruise, and I am surprised to say the service improved a lot. One of the maitre d's even found me one evening and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Clearly they have our photos somewhere on the ship.
We ate at Prime 7 twice and had excellent food and service. Our friends caught a Halibut on a fishing excursion and the chef in Compass Rose grilled it for us and even prepared new potatoes and a special sauce to go with it. I was amazed at such things. We also dined on the last evening with the Cruise Director, Paul Reynolds. He is truly a warm, funny, wonderful guy.
The most amazing excursion ever was the Tracy Arm catamaran. The ship cruises into Tracy Arm on its way to Juneau and a large 2 story catamaran vessel pulls up along side the ship. We boarded and then left the ship and went miles into the fjord to areas the ship could not reach. We were able to get within a quarter of a mile of the North End of Sawyer Glacier. Just unbelievable. For someone who had been to Alaska before, I was blown away at being so up close to everything. I have to thank Cruise Critic because were it not for the Boards, I would never have even heard about this excursion seeing it didn't show up on-line at Regent and wasn't even findable.
My partner zip-lined in Skagway and had a great time. We also did the Alaskan Chef's Table in Ketchikan. I wouldn't recommend this. Not very Alaskan and not very good cuisine. Skip it. Some folks did the jet boats up a river in Wrangell and raved about it.
As usual, I didn't make it to any of the shows. Sorry. People seemed to like a number of them.
The usual activities. Oddly, on this sailing, people were obsessed with Bingo. So many people played that the jackpots approached $800 at times!
Overall, good. In Alaska though, most chose to head out and see things in real life.
The smoothest I have ever seen. Orderly, quick, easy.
Wonderful cruise. We would recommend Regent to just about anyone. I do have a slight leaning toward the Seven Seas Mariner, but Navigator is a fine ship. I just wouldn't book a cabin in Cat F so as to avoid the vibration in the aft of the ship.