We were looking for a luxury cruise in Europe and chose Regent as we didn't want a huge ship and didn't want to have to really dress up each night for diner...and Marnier did not disappoint!
Our cruise left out of Barcelona and we arrived there 3 days early making our own flight arrangements using frequent flyer miles. Barcelona is a great city. I highly recommend spending a few days here if your cruise starts or ends in Barcelona.
Embarkation was extremely easy. We took a cab right to the boat at 11:30 AM where they took or luggage and within 15 minutes we were checked in and in out suite. Fortunately, we were offered an upgrade from a deluxe suite to a mariner suite a week before we left. It was a lot more money, but a great deal off the original price for this suite. The Mariner Suite is fabulous with more space than we needed. The best thing about the suite was having 1 1/2 bathrooms. The service by both the stewardess and butler was excellent. My only complaint was our butler did not get us into one of the specialty restaurants for an additional time beyond the reservations we made months earlier. Other people's butler got them in for additional nights and we were disappointed ours did not.
The food is generally very good. Excellent in the specialty restaurants, hit and miss in Compass Rose, and very good in La Veranda. The biggest problem is the time it takes to eat. Figure 2 hours in the specialty restaurants and Compass Rose. After a long day in port we did not like 2 hour diners so we ate the most diners at La Veranda which was much quicker and very good. Many reviews on here have been critical of La Veranda so we were pleasantly surprised how good it was. Maybe those folks were talking about breakfast or lunch! Although we are not wine snobs, we did not find the variety of wines very good unless you wanted to pay extra. I found the reds pretty good, but my wife likes oaky chardonnays and all they had every night were light fruity whites. They asked us for a mid cruise review and the one complaint we put in the review was the wine and within a day the head sommelier contacted us and found us wine we liked. I was impressed that they took care of this so quickly.
The entertainment is pretty good, but we only went to one show. After a full day in port and diner we were generally too tired to see the shows. The Casino is small and not very crowded. The best thing about this cruise was it never seemed crowded any where on the boat...it was fabulous.
This cruise was port intensive and we are not big tour fans so we decided in some ports to go around ourselves which also allowed us to sleep later a few days. Below are some comments on the ports we visited:
Marseilles: An absolute pit! Do not go to this city. If your boat stops in this port take an excursion to the french countryside.
Monte Carlo: Great place. Didn't take a shore excursion here as we could walk everywhere from the port.
Livorno: Since we were heading to Florence after our cruise we went on the excursion to Lucca. Lovely town and the tour guises were very good. If you have been to Florence already I recommend going to Lucca
Rome: We had seen most of the sites in Rome already so we took the excursion for the express train to Rome and spent the day on our own. The train arrives in Rome by the Vatican and you catch it back at the same station at the end of the day.
Amalfi/Positno: Due to rough seas we had to dock in Naples and we took an excursion to Pompeii and Sorrento. A great excursion with a wonderful guide. Pompeii is fantastic and Sorrento is a lovely coastal town. Highly recommend this excursion.
Taormina: Again due to rough seas we docked in Messina. Took the excursion for spending the day on our own in Taormina and enjoyed it very much. great little resort town.
Corfu, Greece: Just took the free shuttle into town and spend the day exploring Corfu on our own. Enjoyed it as well. Beautiful coastal town with some nice sites like the Old Fort.
Dubrovnik, Again took the free shuttle and explored on own own. Really cool walled city and nice people.
Venice: We had been here before so we just walked around the day. The boat docked close enough so it only took us about 1/2 hour to walk to St. Marks square.
Debarkation was easy. We departed the ship at 8:30AM, picked up a rental car and headed to Florence.
We really enjoyed our first Regent Cruise and have already booked another to the Baltics. If you are looking for luxury, but not snobby experience and dont want to wear a coat and tie or, for the women, fancy dresses every night this is the right cruise line for you.