We needed to go to Europe for family reasons and being Australian, this cruise took us a good part of the way home. Despite having traveled a great deal, a number of the ports and side trips were places we had previously missed and this ... Read More
We needed to go to Europe for family reasons and being Australian, this cruise took us a good part of the way home. Despite having traveled a great deal, a number of the ports and side trips were places we had previously missed and this was a very convenient way to link them together. The all-inclusive nature was also attractive to us.
Passengers: The passengers were largely American, but most of the people we met through shared dining were Canadian and British. In almost all cases, the people we met were well traveled, retired and good company.
Embarkation: In our pre-cruise departure information, Regent gave us a terminal in Barcelona, but when we arrived it was the wrong one. Our actual terminal was a good few miles further away. No attempt seemed to have been made to advise us of this. Once we were at the correct spot, embarkation was straight forward and a welcome glass of champagne was appreciated.
Cabin: We were upgraded to a slightly higher category, but the cabin was essentially the same. It was spacious, comfortable, airy and of a high standard. Our cabin steward was faultless throughout the cruise.
Dining: Our experiences dining were generally good, but inconsistent. Certainly early in the cruise (it was a new crew) the service in the main Compass Rose restaurant was slow and quite a few errors were made. Fortunately, the wine waiters were always on top of things so you remained well lubricated while waiting. The service standard at the Compass Rose improved as the cruise went along. If you wanted to, you could order lobster every night.
The French restaurant, The Chartreuse was outstanding - innovative french cuisine matched with a fine selection of excellent wines. Highly recommended.
The specialty steak restaurant, Prime was OK, but nothing special. It was an American steakhouse.
The Italian restaurant was fine for a a few meals during the cruise. The Compass Rose provided good variety, large quantities of good food. The specials were at times pretty interesting. A number of the attempts at asian dishes were for our tastes, very bland. I assume this was by design as a number of the staff were asian. The cheese plate at the Compass Rose was an excellent course.
For lunch we generally went to the pool bar area. Here they presented something different each day - often relating to the port we were visiting. Some of these worked better than others, but there was always an interesting array to chose from.
At the main restaurants, there were 2 'wines of the day' freely available. Once you were in the know, there were other wines available that you could ask for. There was no wine list. We found out about this from a passenger who knew from a previous Regent cruise. A very odd system. There was always plenty of wine available.
Entertainment. The enrichment lectures were at times a little dry and at times very entertaining, but they provided really good information on topics relating to the places visited. The entertainment in the ship's bars was a bit mixed. The Regent 5 piece band were very versatile and very good. The pianist was also very good, but the duo sang an odd collection of nothing songs.
The formal entertainment was mixed. The guest performers were generally good - A latin guitarist (Vincenzo) was good (and Australian!) as was Sally Jones. Others were OK. The regent singers and dancers did about 5 shows which ranged from very good to average, depending on the material they were performing. We didn't really participate in the on-board activities apart from the odd gym class.
Ports and Excurions: The ports we visited on this cruise were outstanding and the excursions mixed, but generally OK - excellent. Our main complaint on the excursions were that in some cases other passengers had booked on these tours that they weren't physically up to, so we spent a lot of time waiting.
Ostia Antica (Civitavechia): Most people went to Rome, but having been there before we chose this. The site was the ancient ruins of the old Roman sea port. It was a really interesting place to visit. Our guide was very enthusiastic. The on-board lectures on Roman cities tied this together nicely.
Sorrento (Naples): We only went to this port as the sea was too rough to use the tenders on the planned stop on the Amalfi coast. Regent did well to organise tours in Naples at short notice. The tour we chose was only OK, but we were looking for some variety on Roman ruins. Probably should have done another ruin. In the afternoon we took ourselves into Naples for a loo around which was quite good.
Valletta (Malta). Sailing into and out of the harbour was fantastic. A very scenic port and city. We did our own thing in Valletta and had a great time wandering around. If you are interested in World War 2, visit the Lascaris war rooms. These tunnels under the city are from where the invasion of Italy was directed.
Rhodes (Greece) Another interesting city. we did the trip to the Acropolis of Rhodes which was an interesting site, but our guide was a bit hard to understand. We could have done without the stop at the tourist trap which seems mandatory in this part of the world.
Cyprus. We went to Nicossia to look at the disputed border that passes through the city. On the way we stopped at an archaeological site where ruins of a neolithic town have been discovered. All very interesting. Our guide was good and quite open with her view of the politics of Cyprus.
Haifa (Israel). We did a long day trip to Jerusalem & Bethlehem (13 hours). This was quite tiring, but very, very interesting. On the 2nd day in port we visited the Crusader forts at Acre (or Akko). This was an unexpected gem. we had a great guide and a good tour around.
Transiting the Suez: Not a port as such but one of the reasons we chose this cruise. It was just fascinating. All day there was something to see
Sharm el Sheik: Not much of a town to look at. we did a snorkeling trip. It was Ok, but a bit crowded as they took 5 bus/boat loads of people to the same spots, then tried to keep each of the 5 groups in their own group. The fish were good, but the coral looks pretty wrecked.
Aqaba (Jordan). Many people went to Petra, but we had been there before, so we did a trip to Wadi Rum. Again they took us around in a large group (30 4X4s in convoy). We spent a lot of time waiting for people to get on and off the back of the trucks. Wadi Rum is a spectacular place, but the tour was disappointing.
Safaga (Luxor). Again Safaga is nothing to look at, but most passengers did a trip across to Luxor. Another long, but very interesting trip. Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Luxor were excellent. Our guide was OK, but he talked almost non-stop all day. It was over 3 hours each way on the bus and he kept going virtually the whole way there and the whole way back.
Salalah (oman) Salalah is an Ok looking place, although the port was nowhere near the city. We did a tour which visited the grand mosque. Our guide was very open talking about his life and showing his religion. We also visited the museum, looked at frankincense trees and went to the markets. Good.
Muscat (Oman). We went on the hop on/hop off bus and had a really good look around. Muscat is a nice place, but the city is quite strung out, so the bus is a good option.
Dubai. Our last day and the our worst excursion. We just drove past a some of the sites. We stopped at the Burj al arab hotel, but the guide told us as we got off 'we wont belong - it isnt a very good view from her' - so why stop there? The museum was just a bit strange and we spent much of the time in the souk trying to find people who were lost.
Disembarkation: This was fine. We declined the Regent airport transfer for $110/person and got a taxi for $30. Some others on this forum have complained that they had to take their own bags, but we had no such issues. We just disembarked, identified our bags on teh wharf and walked with them a few yards to the taxi.
Disappointment: Our only real complaint was that in Aqaba, after we got back from our excursion, we caught the town shuttle into town to have a look around. The shuttle to return us to the ship didn't come at the advertised time (the bus was used to collect other passengers from a nearby hotel). We were left to make our own way back. When we complained to the destination services, the response was finally that in the fine print it says that shuttle times aren't guaranteed, so it was our problem. While this is technically true, I thought it was a very poor response from an organisation that sells itself as 5 star service.
Overall: This is an expensive cruise line, but they pretty much delivered what they advertised. We would cruise with Regent again, if the destinations make it worthwhile. It was nice not having to worry about paying or signing for things once on board Read Less