Seven Seas Navigator Cruise Review by Portside traveler: A Great First Cruise
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A Great First Cruise
Background We booked our cruise directly with Regent, which provided one interesting aspect. When the cruise was overbooked the direct bookers all were offered incentives to postpone and back out of the tour. It eventually reached getting an extra $7000 back in cash in addition to all your deposits of the cruise. Those who booked through travel agents never had that chance. We also opted for the pre-cruise land package called Discover Denali. That had good accommodations in Anchorage, in near Denali National Park and an extra night at a luxurious ski resort called Alyeska. Everything about the pre-cruise tour went very smoothly, and we went from the plane through the tour to the ship without a hitch. It also gave us the opportunity to meet some of the people we would spend time with onboard so we had a built in set of friends by the time we arrived at the Navigator.
Embarkation This went without a hitch, and, as others have said, we went from the pier to our suite inside of More 15 minutes. We were handed champagne as we entered, and we never stopped having people serve us drinks wherever we were on the ship for the next 7 days. We immediately went to the Destination desk to sign up for another shore excursion, which I had not added in advance. That took all of 2 minutes to make that change.
Stateroom We were in room 718. The port side gave us a good view of most things as we cruised south. It was about 1/3 of the way back from the bow, and we had no problems with movement except during rough weather or first night on the open sea. The Regent staterooms are gorgeous and spacious. 350 square feet was more than enough room for the two of us, and we had plenty of closet space and drawer space to completely unpack. The bathroom has a shower (excellent pressure and drainage) as well as a tub. The only disappointment was that the satellite TV system lost several of its channels for the last three days, and all we had was FOX news to watch. The information channels with site visits by our cruise director Jamie were information, however. The rebroadcast of our onboard expert, Terry Breen, were also helpful if we missed the lectures live. She was outstanding. The room was kept spotless by our stewardess, Jocelyn, and she went out of her way to get us whatever we wanted. If we did this again, we would probably opt for one of the lower level staterooms without a balcony. We really didn't get much use out of it in Alaska.
Ship Info The ship was just refurbished in December, and most everything seemed clean and new. The amount of routine cleaning, vacuuming and maintenance that went on throughout the voyage was impressive. It seemed as spotless as DisneyWorld. There were enough things to do at various stations throughout the ship. The pool got little use until the final day. There is a reasonably well-equipped gym and exercise room. There are about four laundromats for anyone who needed to clean a few things, but the cleaning services were not outrageously expensive. The casino was never overly used, but sometimes up to half the slot machines would be occupied. Elevator service was very prompt. We never had to wait more than a minute or two for a car when we chose not to walk. We did notice the vibration that other people have mentioned. It was sporadic and only in the stern. It was probably most bothersome when we had dinner next to the rear door of Prime 7. However it went away after awhile.
Dining I had read that dining is what Regent excels at. We began eating at the buffet, and could have been satisfied there. Options abounded. There is Prime 7, a reservation-only space. We ate there once, on our last night, but the menus were so good at the "regular" restaurant (Compass Rose) that we wouldn't have missed it. Our normal dinner always had beautifully prepared appetizers and interesting salads. Soups were outstanding, and the entrees, particularly fish dishes, were as good as I can get anywhere where we live. The house red and white wine seldom left us needing alternatives, and the desserts were wonderful, too. For those watching their weight, the back of the menu has a "light" calorie restricted four-course meal suggested by the company that runs the spa (which we did not use). Breakfast and lunch were available at the buffet room or out on the pool deck. One of the small bars also served some breads and other assorted items for a continental breakfast. They have a terrific espresso/cappuccino maker for anyone having Starbucks withdrawal. Altogether, food was a real highlight.
Activities We never wanted for something to do. Despite the small size of the ship, there were games, trivia contests each day, shuffleboard and a putting green, lectures, and a whole host of things to partake of. We were too busy taking advantage of the free excursions to get involved in much, but opportunities for bridge and other organized activities were adequate. One interesting ploy was to hold a late afternoon "Block Party." At the sound of a gong, everyone was supposed to go out into the hallway to meet their neighbors while the crew served champagne and hors d'ourves. That was actually helpful and one of the best ways we got to meet people.
Children's Clubs There were more young kids than I expected to see, and there were several young crew members acting as counselors and keeping them entertained throughout the duration. This isn't a strong point, but they seemed to have handled it very well.
Service In a word - outstanding. Everyone, from running into the captain just after boarding, to the cruise directors to our waiters and our cabin personnel, were friendly and constantly asking us what more they could do for us. Since there is a no tipping policy, this was particularly impressive. I never saw anyone ask for anything that they couldn't get, whether at a meal or anywhere else on board. In another word - classy. Entertainment Again, since I have nothing to compare it to, I can't really gauge this. There was a different show almost every night by the resident singers and dancers, including a Cirque show that was very impressive. The singers were professional, the dancers were energetic, and the whole production was always entertaining, if not overly imaginative. The ship orchestra was very good in all their different forms. They backed the productions and did other lounge shows. I really enjoyed the little jazz trio when it played. On the final night, the screened Avatar in the theater. Almost no one went; I guess everyone had already seen it in 3-D. It was better than what I was expecting.
Shore Excursions There isn't too much to see in the cities themselves that we visited. We took advantage of a least one excursion at each port (and two in Juneau). Over half of ours were extra cost options, but even $199 to fly in a helicopter to a glacier seemed more than reasonable. The side trip to Endicott Arm (Tray's Arm was fogged in) was impressive. If we had never done anything but the complimentary trips, however, we could have been happy. There are a lot to choose from in every port, and they cater to a wide variety of interests.
Disembarkation This was the only thing that didn't go as smooth as silk. We didn't receive our luggage tags and instructions until long after most others did, for some reason. And even then, we didn't have a time to leave listed on our sheet. As it turned out, that was moot because people who were scheduled to leave at 8 pm were standing around for nearly 45 minutes. I saw the captain and the ass't cruise director running around during this time, and it seems as though something was going wrong. We, fortunately, did what you weren't supposed to do and stayed comfortably in our cabin. We let our stewardess go about her business and kept out of the way. We finally got to disembark about an hour after we were scheduled (9:15 or so) and the process went smoothly after that as we boarded a bus directly to the airport. Dealing with the airport in Vancouver is a whole separate nightmare. I've never been in so many lines, including a separate wait to drop off your checked luggage after you check in.
Summary Regent Seven Seas Navigator was all I could imagine a cruise should be. We were pampered and fussed over and basically had our ever whim catered to. Alaska itself is spectacular, but this ship really made us want to keep sailing. The all-inclusive nature of the Regent price had the added advantage of arriving back home with only an extra $200 charged to my credit card. Less
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