Embarkation was a rather slow process in an not overly comfortable waiting area that lacked A/C. After boarding it was a game of hide and seek to locate a crew member with bubbly. The bubbly tasted like overly carbonated sprite. It should have been arrested for impersonating (poorly) champagne.
The cabin was ready by the time I got on board. Everything in the cabin worked however the shower and tub both seemed to take an excessive amount of time to drain. While the cabin was kept clean it would sometimes be 2 or 3 in the afternoon before this was done (with a please service room sign hanging since ~8). It would appear that staff cuts to stewards/stewardesses were the culprit here.
The ship itself was relatively clean and you could usually see staff keeping it that way (I felt Crystal and Silversea did a better job in that regard). The only issue with the interior was their wholly inadequate HVAC system. Smoke was not cleared from smoking areas and had a nasty habit More
of invading other areas. For example the computer lab smelled as much as the adjacent lounge and cigar area.
The food on the ship for the most part seemed to be budgeted on a McDonalds scale. That is most meals were equal to a Happy Meal in cost. The specialty restaurants were about equal to a Mighty Kids Happy Meal. I never could get the per diem for food. I realize you can't have everything fresh at sea, however I'm not sure why they couldn't make their own fresh pasta. They had the flour, eggs and water. Sauces were mostly bland and uninspired (welcome to Italy here's some dried pasta purchased who knows when that we've had who knows how long). Prime7 was an utter disappointment. The meat was tender, but tasted like it had been tenderized via chemicals rather than a prime cut that had been properly dry aged. I like BBQs and the smells they produce, however in Prime7 you could smell every odor from everything the kitchen was producing. It smelled like a lot of product was burned. Signatures was my second favorite dining experience on the ship. The food tasted good, was properly prepared and properly served.
The Compass Rose was something I tried to avoid at all costs. Another cost cutting measure meant service here (both front and back of the house) was slow at best. The food could be dogfood (several other cruisers comments one night) to just OK. Frequently the same diners at the same table would have same dish but two very different versions (properly cooked and full of flavor and the other was semi-gelatinous mush).
I must say that when I was able to get fresh made food (pasta, sauces, and desert) it was excellent. However that meal was unavailable to anyone else onboard. The sad part was this meal was equal to what Radisson used to serve and what I was expecting every meal to be.
Excursions were generally about "you get what you pay for". While most were free, they felt that way. That is the quality wasn't there. Before the excursion cost was built into your fare, but you felt you got a quality product. Now you paid but for the most part got a lower quality product. My extra price tour in Cinq Terre was excellent (aside from the pax who got drunk off way to much wine and grappa at an agritourismo). However my Chateau dinner in Bordeaux was hideous and that was giving it too much credit. Instead of eating in a Chateau we ate in the barn. Right next to that green and yellow John Deere tractor. Bread was served sans butter or oil, the protein was a mound of I think meatloaf. Not at all what I was expecting for a Chateau dinner, no near what was described.
Our wine tour in Spain went from what was supposed to be an Opus One equivalent to I think Turning Leaf or Kendall Jackson. Not the cruise lines fault, but still a downer. I think the best port call of the trip was Bordeaux. Being docked in the center of town overnight made it very easy to get around and see things. I would've gladly skipped Santander (itself an exceedingly poor replacement for Bilbao) for an extra day in Bordeaux.
The wine served on the ship definitely was a case of you get what you pay for (Radisson and Silversea both had better complimentary selections). The alcohol selection was good (although I would've liked to have seen Hendricks Gin) and the bartenders knew their drinks (especially near the pool).
Staff were friendly (although it seemed extra special friendly to world cruisers almost to the point you felt a class system was in place). The ship was well maintained, ports beautiful (aside from the change from Bilbao to Santander, a department store as the tour destination? Really?). Food outside of Signatures and a certain officers room was ok to call the CDC bad (why yes that really was a large blob of black mold). Trivia was always fun but some people took it way too seriously.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary and staff (when available) but found the cuts to crew, food/wine costs and to the captains authority (on Regent ships the captain is subservient to the hotel director which leads to things like skipping ports to save on fuel) have taken what was once a six star experience to something more akin to a mass market line, albeit with a smaller passenger complement. At this point I can't recommend the line, nor do I think I would return unless this cost cutting trend is reversed. The sad thing is the new people trying Regent for the first time don't know what they're missing and the old guard are being driven away. And don't get me started on their asinine pre-booking policy for restaurants/tours with regards to what room you have. Less
Seven Seas Voyager Cruises to the British Isles & Western Europe