We're retired and we enjoy sailing. After over 150 nights on Regent, we've considered it our favorite and we always anticipate our next Regent cruise. Sadly, things are not what they once were. The first hint that things had changed happened at embarkation. In the past we arrived at the pier and walked onto the ship. In December 2010, we arrived and were guided upstairs to be seated where we waited to be called to the registration desk. We arrived at noon and at 1pm, we were still waiting to be invited to board.
The Ship and cabins: Decorated for the holidays, the ship and cabin were as lovely as we remembered. Everything sparkled!
Dining is important to us. In the past Voyager's meals were memorable. Sadly, on this cruise, the meals were a sore point. We ate mainly in Compass Rose, the main dining room. While food was nicely presented and always hot, it was generally bland and uninteresting. Some main course dishes such as tournedos and butter-poached "mini" lobster tails( two to a plate) were properly cooked and tasty. Others including the hamburgers(ordinary preformed patties), pasta, lamb shank, and fish were tasteless or chewy. Not the fine cuts that we had come to enjoy in the past. Deserts looked wonderful but were ordinary tasting.
In LaVeranda, the alternate evening dining venue, the antipasti table was bountiful. The soups were hot and delicious. But the pasta course should never have left the galley. The pasta was so stiff(far beyond al dente) that it did not bend on the fork. The main course, shrimp wrapped in pancetta over broccoli,was an embarrassment. The dinner plate was presented with four
small shrimp and two pices of broccoli. Also, there was a long delay between the soup course and the main course. The server apologized profusely about the lag in service.
In Prime 7, one of the two speciality restaurants, the oysters Rockefeller was presented on a totally ungarnished beige plate. The shells skated around the plate when it was served. The onion soup with a miniscule amount of cheese was hot but tasteless. The main course of strip steak was cooked to requested temperature but lacked flavor and was chewy.
In Signatures, the other speciality restaurant, we enjoyed the best meal on the ship with fine service.
The staff is the best ambassadors for the ship. The entire staff work their hardest to please. On the holiday cruise, the staff seemed cut to the breaking point. Although everyone worked to their utmost, there were lengthy waits for service. On the first night in Compass Rose, after waiting for wine service, my husband finally got up from the table to find a dining room manager to request wine. That had never happened in the past. At breakfast, we had 30 minute waits between courses. Again, at lunch, after waiting 45 minutes for the main course, a turkey sandwich, my husband was ready to leave!
Now tours are included in the cruise price. We sampled several and found them to be tedious with long fillers and wait time. For example, in St Martin on the America Cup race, the total sailing time amounted to 30 minutes out of two hours of wait and talk.
The entertainment onboard was an improvement. The present performance company features dancers and two vocalists and they were far superior to the former company. They did three shows and a Christmas performance. The social director Lorraine and her assistants were outstanding. Their energy from morning until late at night was unbelievable.
The all-inclusive cruise fare(air, cruise, tours, tips, and wine and liquor) are seductive inducements. However, if quality, fine cuisine, and attentive service are important to you, Regent may not be the best choice.
All in all, Regent is just not what it used to be! We will probably sail with them again and hope things shape up. In the meantime, we will try another cruise line.