This spring my husband reminded me it had been 16 years since we had vacationed alone together without our children. 2010 marked a big anniversary and my husband's 50th birthday - both warranted a special vacation. Cruising has long been our vacation of choice, and we been cruising for more than 20 years, and each year for the past 16 with our 2 sons. We've enjoyed all the activities offered by the megaships - especially with the boys. But this year we decided to leave the kids at home, and try something special. After lots of research and considering several options and recommendations - we choose the Regent Voyager. This cruise marked a lot of "firsts" for us. This was our first voyage with Regent; our first transatlantic sailing; and our first holiday longer than 3 days without our sons. Our itinerary began in Fort Lauderdale and ended in Reykjavik, Iceland, although some passengers stayed on through Southampton.
We boarded the ship in New York on day 3 of the sailing. This ship stayed in North America until the 3 day journey across the Atlantic to Iceland. This was a bonus for my husband who needed to stay somewhat connected to his business while we were gone. Our ports of call included New York, NY; Newport, RI; Boston, MA; Bar Harbor, ME; Halifax, NS; Cornerbrook, NFLD, and Lans Aux Meadows, NFLD and Reykjavik, Icleand.
The Ship and Our Suite Our first impression of the ship as we boarded was elegant and graceful. The voyager carries 700 guests and weighs in at 46,000 tons. It's large enough to provide all the amenities and options you could possibly want for your vacation - but still maintains an intimate feel. The Voyager is an all suite, all balcony ship. We were in a category D - 300 sq. ft, plus a 56 sq. ft. balcony. Our tastefully decorated suite was spacious and comfortable. It was a pleasure to unpack with a walk-in closet complete with drawers, hooks, shelves and plenty of hanging space with both padded and wooded hangers. The small vanity area next to the bed had a lighted makeup mirror and a drawer, perfect for storing cosmetics. The marble bathroom was the largest I've had on a cruise ship complete with a large vanity, good lighting, a glass enclosed shower and a separate soaking tub. The king size bed was dressed in luxurious Egyptian cotton linens and beautiful pillows. I overheard a guest at the purser's desk inquiry about purchasing the pillows - They were that lovely! The sitting area had a full sized sofa, two chairs and an oval coffee table. The coffee table was taller than normal height and also served for in-suite dining. A plastic square tabletop that was stored in the closet fit snuggly over the coffee table. Most mornings we ordered a continental breakfast in the room. The room service attendant would beautifully set the table with linens, silver and china making even a simple continental breakfast seem very special. The adjacent wall of built in cabinetry had a 27 inch flat screen TV, writing desk, glass ware, additional drawer space, and stocked mini fridge. The balcony was just off the sitting area, with two chairs and a table - the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee, or a glass of wine surrounded by the vast ocean and the sound of the lapping waves.
Dining We had heard that Regent offered exceptional on board dining. If you think that cruise ship dining cannot match the experience of a land side, fine dining restaurant - think again! We were pleasantly surprised that each of the Voyager restaurants offered a dining experience that far exceeded our expectations. The elegant Compass Rose is the main dining room offering full service, and a great variety of selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can dine whenever you choose - there are no scheduled dining times. You can request a table for two, or choose to be seated with other guests. The Verandah restaurant is a slightly more casual experience. Breakfast and lunch at the Verandah feature fantastic buffet selections. Breakfast offers a great selection of fresh fruits, eggs and made to order omelets; lunch features a carving station and an exceptional array of salads and seafood including stone crab claws and seared Ahi tuna. Dinner in the Verandah is casual but elegant offering an antipasti and dessert buffet and main courses are selected from a menu and served at the table. Voyager features two outstanding specialty restaurants - Signatures and Prime 7 - and this is where the magic happens! Signatures is a classic French restaurant which operates in partnership with Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. The menu items are traditional with a contemporary twist, offering some lighter selections. The service begins with freshly baked bread and a pot of compound butter with black pepper and parmesan cheese. Bread and butter are something I usually try to avoid - but this cannot be missed. But be careful - you'll want to save room for desert! Prime 7 - a Classic Steak House is an intimate, dramatic, sexy restaurant with warm colours and comfy leather club chairs. This is a" big night out restaurant" - and every element of the dining experience from ambiance, service and cuisine is spot on! The steaks and seafood were simply outstanding! I indulged in a bone-in rib eye that would satisfy any carnivore and cooked perfectly to medium. The king crab legs with drawn butter were the best I've ever had, and a tempting selection of sides including twice baked potatoes and grilled asparagus will insure to get all your food groups. There is no surcharge to dine in the specialty restaurants, but reservations are required. You can make 1 reservation for each of the 2 restaurants on-line, once your cruise booking has been finalized. To ensure all guest have an opportunity to experience the specialty restaurants, the advance reservations are limited to 1 per restaurant. However, you can inquire about additional reservations once on board the ship. On our 11 night voyage, we had the pleasure of dining twice in each of the 2 specialty restaurants.
Lounges The lounges and public areas on the ship - both inside and out - were most inviting. My favourite was Horizons, located all the way aft on deck 5. Gabrielle was the bartender and instantly knew our preferences. One day during the crossing, I was a little susceptible to the rolling seas. Gabrielle took it upon himself to make me a "special" tonic of ginger ale, fresh OJ, bitters and mint. I felt better within minutes of drinking it. Gabrielle's warm personality and exceptional service was as much a feature of the Horizon Lounge as the floor to ceiling windows offering spectacular ocean views. You can access the aft outside deck from Horizons and this space is furnished big comfy sofas with pillows where you can enjoy your cocktails or just relax while looking over the wake of the ship.
Activities and Entertainment When you're not off in port experiencing the destinations through one of Regent's inclusive shore excursions, there is plenty to do on board. The Canyon Ranch Spa and fitness center offers everything you need to relax or burn off some of the added calories. I took Yoga and Pilates classes and hit the tread mill a couple of times during the Voyage. Wellness classes were also part of the featured curriculum. We met some great new friends that we frequently met up with in the cafe and the Horizon's lounge. Each day at 4pm Tea and Trivia begins. A beautiful high tea is served with white gloved servers to teams of fiercely competitive passengers who gather each afternoon to answer the 12 trivia questions. After the trivia - you have just enough time to dress for dinner and gather in the Observation lounge - all the way forward on deck 11. At 6pm each evening pre-dinner cocktails are enjoyed with a "name that tune" contest. We joined a team with other passengers and had a blast. Regent is well known for their enrichment programs. We attended a number of very informative and topical lectures. 2 scientists sailed with us and lectured on the History of the Vikings; and Volcanoes and Earthquakes. We also enjoyed the company of a TV Writer from the series "Frasier". He hosted several sessions in which he described many aspects of this hit sitcom including the character development and evolution of the show. It was very interesting. The Voyager Lounge was a great venue for both the lectures and the evening entertainment. We saw some dazzling musical entertainment as well as a hysterical husband and wife comedy act . At night after dinner and possibly a show, we retired to our suite and watched the occasional movie ( a selection of 200 movies, from new releases to classics were available through your stateroom TV, complimentary) Service Each of the staff members we encountered on board the ship was a pleasure. The service was attentive and gracious. The staff truly go out of their way to exceed your expectations and ensure your optimum enjoyment - from the room stewardess to the dining room staff . We made a point of recognizing several of the staff who served us during our voyage.The wines were served by sommeliers who made excellent suggestions and wine pairings. Jayson is a young, but knowledgeable sommelier who introduced my husband to his new favourite California Cabernet Sauvignon. When we returned to our suite that evening after dinner we found 2 bottles of the vintage - compliments of Jayson (and Regent). This gesture was indicative of personal service delivered by each of the staff members on board.
It was All Included! This was our first experience on an all-inclusive ship. Included in the cruise fare are premium wines and spirits, unlimited shore excursions and gratuities. The selection of inclusive premium spirits and wines were wonderful. The shore excursions we took were well planned for the destinations and a variety of experiences for every traveller. When making our shore excursion selections before we sailed, 2 of our first choices where sold out. We waitlisted for these tours anyway and to our delight - we received notification before we sailed that we had cleared the waitlists and were confirmed. My understanding is that Regent works very hard to accommodate the wishes of guests. And we cannot say enough about the service. There is tremendous value and satisfaction in the inclusive nature of a vacation. It was refreshing pleasure to not constantly be signing for purchases. The Regent Alumni Each and every other passenger we met on the board was a past guest of Regent. It was remarkable! Many of them had enjoyed multiple voyages, and talked with us about the other Regent ships and some of the great journeys they had experienced. We have been communicating with our new friends, and hope we meet up with them on a future cruise. We have enjoyed the pleasure of sailing on most of the popular cruise lines. We now consider ourselves Regent Alumni and cannot wait for our next voyage. I would recommend Regent with confidence to anyone who is looking for a cruise experience offering refined luxury, exceptional cuisine, stimulating enrichment programs, and a casual elegant ambiance. Bon Voyage!