The lure of sailing on a brand new Regent ship was too strong to resist and we are very glad we succumbed! We booked this cruise way back in August of 2015, in anticipation of our celebrating our 30th anniversary, based on the itinerary in ... Read More
The lure of sailing on a brand new Regent ship was too strong to resist and we are very glad we succumbed! We booked this cruise way back in August of 2015, in anticipation of our celebrating our 30th anniversary, based on the itinerary in the Western Mediterranean and the appeal of sailing on the Explorer, Regent's new ship. Our only previous cruising experience was 3 years ago when we took an Alaskan cruise on Regent's Navigator. We had a lovely time on that cruise and could only assume that a bigger and newer Regent ship would offer an even better experience.
We arrived in Barcelona 3 nights before the cruise sailed. We booked our own hotel reservation at the Majestic Hotel-a luxury grande dame on the beautiful Passieg de Gracia. Barcelona is definitely worthy of a multi-night visit.
We were not eligible for early boarding or early access to our room, so we did not arrive at the ship until a few hours after regular boarding started. The arrivals building was easy to access and was clean and comfortable for the short time we were in it. After Regent processed us and we went through security, we happily boarded the ship to be greeted with champagne. The reception area was very spacious and beautifully decorated. We were told that our room would be ready by 2, I believe, and it was. Our luggage did not come right away and we actually wound up plucking it from a stockpile of luggage in a service area on our hall. Obviously, we would have preferred that it had been brought to our room earlier, but we didn't mind picking it up so that we could start unpacking.
We were in a F2 Superior Suite. The color scheme was blue and white and was very elegant. Most of the cabinetry was white lacquer and the look could be described as a bit glam-in a very positive way. The cabin was spacious and extremely well laid out. We had a narrow, but long walk in closet with more than ample storage for clothing and shoes. In addition to space to hang clothes, there were shelves for shoes and several drawers for clothing. There was also a full length mirror in the closet, along with several mirrors in the suite and needless to say in the bathroom. The bathroom was fully trimmed out in white marble. Very elegant-not overly glitzy. We had a tub, good sized shower and 2 sinks. The lighting was very good. The shower had a thoughtfully placed bar on the wall to place your foot on when shaving your legs. The toiletries were plentiful. My level suite didn't come with a magnifying mirror, but I asked our stewardess for one and she brought it the next morning. The main room also had significant storage in nightstands, a desk area and a bar area. It was very easy to keep the suite neat because there was a place for everything.
The ship felt very spacious compared to the Navigator and easily accommodated the 750 passengers. The common areas were numerous and beautiful-even the "public" restrooms were exquisite and were constantly being cleaned. Others have commented that the sight lines in the theater were poor and I would agree that in the upper level the railing blocked your view. We only attended one evening performance and made sure we sat in a seat that wasn't blocked. We went to the show put on by the cruise director John Barron. It was a bit like a variety show and a bit corny, but John has such a winning personality and a great voice, so it was a lot of fun.
We were very pleased with the food. The Compass Rose was a beautiful spacious room, with a very soothing decor. In addition to the regular menu, which stayed the same every night, they had a series of different specials every night. This was a great idea because otherwise it could have gotten repetitive to eat there. We felt the service was very good. Obviously, some waiters are a bit more attentive than others. The only complaint about the food in the Compass Rose was that the vegetables were soggy and across the ship the fruit was generally not ripe. This was a shame because the fruit from the countries we visited was abundant and delicious. We do not drink wine so we can't comment on that aspect. My husband would have liked a little more variety in their beer selection and certainly would have liked to have seen a selection of beer from the countries we were visiting. Dinner always ended with a dish of petite fours in addition to any dessert you wanted to order. The specialty restaurants, Chartreuse, Pacific Rim and Prime 7, were visually striking. Dinner at any one of them felt like a special occasion. Each one offered special little touches that I don't want to reveal here because they were like little surprises. The specialty restaurants were open for lunch on a rotating basis and we took advantage of that a few times. Lunch at La Veranda or the Pool Grill was quite casual and a bit hectic, so it was fun to come back from a morning excursion and enjoy a lunch in a more elegant, refined setting.
There is tea time every afternoon, which flows into Trivia. We tried to participate when we were not on an excursion. The scones were delicious!
We were generally pleased with our excursions and our guides. The guides all seemed knowledgeable. Some had stronger accents than others, so it was sometimes hard to understand them. One issue with the excursions is that people would choose to go on an excursion that indicated that it would require a fair bit of walking, yet certain people were really not that ambulatory. This would slow down the group and was a bit frustrating. We discussed this with Destination Services and they were aware of the problem, but didn't really know how to resolve it as they are relying on people to assess their own walking ability. The process for departing for excursions was orderly. Our buses were always clean and well air conditioned. The best bus was in Monaco-why am I not surprised? I felt that sometimes the groups were a bit larger than they should have been. We found the women at Destination Services to be very helpful and patient. We seemed to have a question for them every day and they never seemed annoyed or tired of us.
It is a well known fact that the Wi-fi service was terrible. They have a dedicated Tech person, but the quality of wi-fi was out of his control. I'm not technologically savvy so I don't know if this is an issue that can be improved if Regent puts the time and money into it.
The level of service across the board was extremely high. Whenever you passed a crew/staff member in the hall they said hello. At dinner, we were almost always asked by our waiter if we had enjoyed our day. When you turned down dessert or wine or goodies at tea time, they seemed genuinely disappointed. I read that some people thought the crew were surly or unfriendly. That just wasn't our experience. Some people seemed to have particular problems with the staff at reception. Again, I approached them at least once a day and they were always very friendly and one of them always addressed me by name. Our cabin was kept very clean by our duo of stewardesses.
The main pool area was spacious with comfortable lounges. Sometimes it was a bit tricky to get a lounge in the shade, but that is understandable. There were waiters constantly checking to see if you wanted a drink.
The gym had a full array of equipment. Staffing was a little scarce, so if you had a question about a machine, it was sometimes frustrating that nobody was around to answer it.
I was pleased to see that there was good security at all of the ports. If the port itself didn't scan your bags upon returning to the ship, then the ship would do it. They checked your ID when you left and when you returned. There was always water and towels to pick up as you left the ship.
Disembarkation was orderly. We were allowed to stay on the ship until 9 am, even though we had to be out of our room by 8. There were so many lovely common areas, that it was hard to tear yourself away and go out into the real world.
The new Regent Explorer is absolutely beautiful and a treat to sail on. Obviously, nothing is 100% perfect, but our overall experience was one of comfort, pampering and delicious food. Read Less