This was a 24-day cruise through the Caribbean and up the Amazon, and we went into it with some concerns. We've cruised many times before (Princess, Holland-America, Celebrity and Regent), but those were shorter cruises and on larger ships. We wondered if 24 days would be too long, would a small ship be confining or uncomfortable, were there specific issues with the Navigator itself (we'd read of some complaints about vibration). The answers to all of those concerns was an emphatic NO. This turned out to be the cruise of a lifetime and worth every penny.
Embarking: We live in Florida and thus received a discount since Regent didn't have to buy us an airplane ticket or put us up overnight prior to departure. The Ft. Lauderdale port was easy to access directly from the garage nearby, and embarkation was prompt and uncrowded. It was almost silly how many staff people were around to say "thanks for sailing with us" or "have a pleasant trip" or simply welcoming us. We came onboard at 2 and were in our rooms by 2:20, and the bags showed up by 3:00. The lifeboat drill came later and was well-handled. Since it is a small ship, there is only one muster station and easy to find.
Room: Regent excels with huge rooms and balconies, and ours was no exception. Our stewardess, who had been on other ships, had just joined the Navigator. She promptly introduced herself and was wonderful throughout the cruise, very early learning our preferences in fruits and beverages, and when we liked to go to meals. Everything seemed to be top quality, from the bathroom to the beds to the TV/internet access.
Restaurants: In the main restaurant (Compass Rose) we stumbled upon a fantastic waiter and sommelier and almost always asked to be seated in that area of the dining room ... with no problems. We always ate at a table for two by the window on our own timing. Again, the Maitre d' knew our preferences, as did the waiter -- another sign of the special treatment that you receive on Regent Navigator. The service was equally good in the informal dining area called Veranda, for lunch or breakfast (buffet service). We found the food to be excellent in Compass Rose, very good in the Veranda, and also very good in the fancy (and free) Prime restaurant. Our preference, though, was the Compass Rose. And the service, and presentation, is what I'll remember most.
Staff: I've touched on this before, but the thing that really jumped out at us was how cooperative all of the staff was -- not just with the paying customers but especially with each other. No one seemed to be slacking off. If there was a customer who needed something, someone jumped in to take care of it -- whether it was filling a glass of water, getting a bottle of water, or whatever. It was immediately taken care of. It was almost difficult to determine who exactly was responsible for a specific thing because every staff person seemed to feel a personal responsibility to help you. Oh, there were some special people. The waiter, the stewardess, the person who started up the coffee bar early each morning and who knew what type of coffee you wanted even before you asked. But the entire crew seemed exceptional well-trained and customer-focussed. The Cruise Director, Jamie, was exceptional and seemingly knew everyone onboard by the time we debarked. Our onboard lecturer had fantastic knowledge about the Amazon which she shared with us each day and which helped to make the trip special.
Public Spaces: We don't have any interest in a casino (if you want that, go to Vegas), or in duty-free shops onboard (if you want that, go ashore), or in buying artwork on a ship, and so the small space devoted to those things didn't bother us. In fact that was pretty nice. The theater was nicely laid out and able to hold just about everyone on the ship. The library is small, though equipped with enough computers, and daily downloads of newspapers from around the world. Individual lounges are also small but, to us, adequate for the number of potential users.
Ports/Excursions: Some of the excursions were less than spectacular (e.g., a brief bus trip around St. Barts) while others were wonderful, such as the shore excursion to a village on the Amazon or a snorkeling trip in Grand Turk. Since these are all included in the base price, it is hard to find fault with any of them.
Prior Concerns: I mentioned that we'd been concerned about possible vibration on the ship based on comments from others. Our room was towards the stern where this is supposed to be an issue. And yes, there was some vibration especially as the ship was docking or coming out of a port. But it was not at all objectionable. Since it is a smaller ship, there was a noticeable rocking and rolling when we encountered 7-9 foot seas or 10-foot swells, yet to us it was not an issue (we didn't bother with dramamine). In a way it helped us to feel that we were a part of the ship unlike what you might feel if you were on a 3,000 passenger megaship. It's a special feeling when you dock alongside a huge ship and see their lines of passengers getting on or off whereas our ship seemed almost like a private yacht.
Disembarkation: Very easy and fast and well-organized, with some of the crew standing by to say goodbye. Wow, we hated to leave this ship! We're ready to cruise again, but our first priority is to go on the Navigator.