This was our 4th cruise; the first time on Regent Seven Seas Voyager. We had previously sailed with Oceania and Azamara. This cruise began well in Monte Carlo but ended sadly in Athens -- more on that later.
Embarkation in Monte Carlo went smoothly. We arrived early and were welcomed aboard with champagne. The Voyager looks like all the other ships in its class, but appeared extremely well maintained and updated. The interior decor was a blend of browns, beiges and wood tones which may be calming to some, but appeared a bit drab to me. The two atriums fore and aft were a nice change, light filled and contained 4 elevators and open stairwells making transition between decks quick and easy. Each deck had its own convenient (and free) laundry room.
Our suite (938) was surprisingly large and airy with a walk in closet, a large bathroom with tub, separate shower, and plenty of storage space. The sleeping area contained a comfortable king size bed and two side cabinets. The seating area was spacious with full size sofa, table and 2 chairs, a desk and built in cabinetry with additional storage and mini bar which was kept well stocked. Our request for our favorite bourbon was honored quickly. There were two comfortable chairs and a table on the veranda but we rarely used it.
Regent did well with its complimentary wine, liquor and beverage service. The evening wine offerings were generally good, with only one exception. Note: If you do not like the evening's selection there may be another available, just ask -- otherwise you can purchase an individual bottle.
Unfortunately, dining aboard the Voyager was disappointing, with rare exceptions (a filet mignon that was done perfectly, was tender and delicious, and two appetizers that were fabulous.) Of the four dining options, Compass Rose was the best, although entrees often had an Indian/Oriental theme. We had an acceptable meal at Signatures on the first night, but we should have skipped Prime 7 entirely. La Veranda had limited selections at breakfast, disappointing pastries and nasty fruit juice -- avoid the pre-made eggs and order an omelet. Lunch selections at La Veranda usually sent us outside to the Pool Grill, which consistently offered a great selection of burgers and sandwiches.
Overall service was generally very good, with some crew exceptionally helpful, some first timers who were not as 'polished', and others surprisingly snobbish. Note: Room service was simply outstanding!
The entertainment was loud, very loud. Enough said.
Shore excursions -- the hillside towns and winery above Saint Tropez, the walking tour of Florence (although the commercialism at Pisa was tacky), the wonders of Rome (despite the heat in St. Peters Square awaiting clearance through Security to enter the Basilica), Pompeii, Kusadasi (the ruins of Ephesus and the rug making demonstration), and even the cold, fog covered, pouring rain of Mt. Etna were simply outstanding!
Unfortunately, the weather turned absolutely awful on day 5 and we were unable to make port calls at Amalfi, Zycanthos, and Santorini since the seas were too rough to tender into shore. Regent chose to dock in Messina rather than Taormina to get out of the storm. I should note that the ship's stabilizers really did their job, keeping the ship fairly stable despite the high seas.
In addition, at the same time, we were informed that Athens would experience a two day port strike and air traffic controller strike on the day we were to disembark the ship and return home. (Note: A strike had been proposed long before we left home and the State Department has issued a travel advisory for Greece, so I had inquired if Regent had considered altering its disembarkation port (Athens) and was told 'no'.)
From that point on, things went down hill. Communication from ship's staff was constantly changing causing enormous anxiety among many passengers, but I felt the crew did try very hard to handle this crisis. I have a feeling that information from Greece was constantly changing, creating havoc for the crew's plans, and which affected the lack of information to passengers. However, over 200 passengers chose to leave the ship in Kusadasi, Turkey, rather than go on to Athens.
The rest of us had no choice but to continue on to Athens. We had made our own hotel and air transport plans and the changes required due to the strikes were very costly. Regent did, however, transport us to our hotel.
We spent two days in Athens, unable to visit any national landmarks except the New Acropolis Museum, walk around the base of the Acropolis to see what we could see through locked gates, and stroll on the Plaka. We also had the pleasure of listening to the roar of the demonstrators, smell the smoke of lighted garbage and incendiaries, and watch the strikers parade the streets with white painted faces, tear gas masks or scarves over their faces. On our last night, the Athens motorcycle police chose our street to 'stage' or get ready for evening demonstrations. As a result the Plaka closed down and we were fortunate to find a restaurant open for our last dinner in Athens.
Regent is a well liked cruise line. We met several couples who had traveled many times with them. However, our experience was that it was not up to the same standards as other small ship cruise lines we've sailed with, and would have to think carefully before booking with them again.