Following is our review of our recent (July 11-18) Baltic cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager:
Perspective and Context. First, we are not seasoned cruisers. This was our fourth cruse and our first cruise with Regent. That being said, we have traveled extensively in Europe and always go first class so our evaluation of food, service and accommodations is from that perspective. Second, we are booked on the World Cruise so this was, among other things, a “test flight” for that cruise. Third, as some commenter’s have already noted, it was brutally hot (and we are from Houston) and unfortunately, though no fault of Regent, the heat may be our lasting impression.
The Voyager. Very simply, we loved the Voyager; almost everything about it. Our suite (Category C) was very thoughtfully designed, down to the smallest details. It seemed very spacious, more than the 306 sq. ft. would suggest, due in part to this attention to detail. The Voyager sailed completely full; we were told there were 733 guests in all including third persons in some suites. But, you wouldn’t know it. It didn’t seem full. They don’t herd cattle on the Voyager. We never had to wait long for an elevator and, as often as not, we were the only ones in the cab. We never waited for a table in the Compass Rose or the Veranda for longer than two minutes. We were immediately seated in Prime 7 and Signatures even though we arrived early. Embarkation, disembarkation and group tours were a breeze. Regent has definitely “figured it out” in this respect and everything went off without a hitch. Embarkation took maybe ten minutes and disembarkation less. As for the Constellation Theater, We typically arrived five minutes before the nightly show and we never had a problem being seated in a good location.
The Restaurants. We thought the restaurants were uniformly very good to excellent. We dined at Prime Seven and Signatures once each, the Veranda twice and the remainder of our meals were taken in the Compass Rose. We did not try room service. While we enjoyed both Prime 7 and Signatures, we enjoyed the Compass Rose more. The service in all of the restaurants was excellent; the menus were more varied in the Compass Rose and the food just as good. We did not experience any delays or stressed-out service issues that have been occasionally mentioned in the comments.
Service. The service level was, in our opinion, uniformly outstanding. I have never seen so many smiles. You could literally not sit down without someone putting a drink and canapés in front of you. We were so impressed with the Butler service that we upgraded our World cruise to a Butler cabin.
Our observations regarding “Issues” in the Comments:
Service Levels. Obviously we cannot compare previous service levels to the service we experienced. I can only say that the service level we experienced, without exception, exceeded our expectations and was much higher than many of the five-star hotels we have stayed in.
Children on Board. Yes, there were children of all ages on board, not many but more than a few. In our opinion this is a non-issue. Without exception, they were well mannered and behaved and Curmudgeon that I am, cannot image that they adversely affected anyone’s cruise experience.
Captain Dag. Okay, I admit that this was a seven day cruise, that there was no opportunity to bond with the crew and that we may have a different opinion after the world cruise. That being said, I find it hard to understand the attention this issue has received, how it somehow makes a huge statement with regard to “the state of Regent “or why it would have any impact on anyone’s cruise decision. Who may be the captain of the Voyager during the world cruise does not even register on our radar.
The “Vibration”. Well, there is a vibration in the aft and it is noticeable. After the first night, I heard some guests were requesting a room change but of course the ship was full. We both adjusted to the vibration very easily and after the first night we were pretty much lulled into the rhythm of the ship and had no trouble sleeping. Since we are booked in virtually the identical cabin on the WC, we made the decision that it was not a problem for us but I can also see why it may be a problem for some.
The Food. This is so subjective it is really hard to comment on and again we are not privileged to have cruised on Regent in “the good old days”. If you are expecting asparagus ice cream or other cutting edge culinary creations, you are probably going to be disappointed. If you enjoy a wide range of fairly traditional well prepared menu items, you will probably be pleased.
Park West. Regent is aggressively promoting Park West to the point that they were interviewing its art experts on the Regent TV channel. This may be a contractual obligation.
Laundry/dry cleaning service. We used this service multiple times because we brought the wrong clothes (due to the heat). The service was prompt and the quality was excellent. There were no delays whatsoever.
Entertainment. We were a bit disappointed that there was no “name” entertainers scheduled but the performances by the Regent singers and dancers was excellent. We particularly enjoyed their original production of “Sailing through Broadway”. And, the review put on by Regent crew members was energetic and lots of fun. We were surprised that the attendance level of the shows was so low, only once exceeding 50% of capacity. This could be due to this cruise being somewhat of a ‘forced march” through six ports in seven days. With the heat, jet lag and full-day tours, it was hard to stay awake for the 9:45 show starting time.
Relative Cost. I am not going to enter the cost-benefit debate of Regent as compared to other cruise lines. Other commenter’s have done so exhaustively. I will only say what a pleasure it is to have a relaxing vacation and never open your wallet; to never sign a chit for a tour or for anything else save the shops and casino of course; to never have to pay for a drink or to pay a surcharge to dine at a premium restaurant. And, it was nice to not worry about who to tip and how much. We did make a contribution to the crew welfare fund in lieu of a tip, but this is strictly voluntary (and, unfortunately in our opinion, this option is not even mentioned by Regent). How much value one places on these intangibles is a personal and financial decision, but to us it was worth quite a lot.
Tours. I won’t comment on individual tours except to say that if you are planning a trip to St. Petersburg and can afford the cost, taking a private tour is well worth it.
Internet Connectivity. Internet connectivity was slow and unreliable. This was not a particular concern on a seven day cruise but is very concerning to us on a WC length cruise where communications, investment management and bill-paying is critical.
TV; Channel Selection. This was a real disappointment both in selection and quality. We only had access to Fox news, CNN international and Euro sports (that, on our cruise, was obsessed with reporting about grown men riding bicycles). My question is: if they can receive the Fox News and CNN International broadcasts, why not ESPN, CNN Domestic or the myriad of other available satellite channels. Again, not a problem on a seven day cruise but on the WC with many sea days, it is an issue to us. As for as quality, there is no HDTV and the picture is fuzzy at best. Note to Regent: you can get flat screen TV’s with high definition broadcasts at Holiday Inns.