This was our 3d cruise on Regent after a 7 year gap, having taken 2 river cruises, sailing cruise, and travelled independently in Europe and Asia. We enjoyed it and will probably take another Regent cruise as our next excursion aboard a ... Read More
This was our 3d cruise on Regent after a 7 year gap, having taken 2 river cruises, sailing cruise, and travelled independently in Europe and Asia. We enjoyed it and will probably take another Regent cruise as our next excursion aboard a ship. We didn't pick Regent as our first cruse, but rather made a yes-no decision to accompany friends who had booked on Regent. Once we had the Regent experience we booked the following year to get the on-board discounts and repeat the wonderful experience.
By anecdotal comparison to my colleagues positive experiences on other lines, I cant imaging stepping down to the nickel and dime business model of other cruise lines. All inclusive really is all inclusive on Regent.coffees, cappuccinos, imported beer, nice wines, top shelf liquor all flow without charges, chits, or gratuities, or special bracelets or beverage cards. No tipping. Yet despite that, the staff all smile, and ask how they can help satisfy your request. For ,us a discriminator was asking for blue cheese stuffed olives in our evening cocktail. Except for one bar right outside the compass rose, the request was always--"yes, absolutely, but it may take a bit longer to get the blue cheese." And there was no gratuity for going out of the way to honor our request.
On the other Regent experiences we could make reservations to dine in the specialty restaurants once per cruise. (Again, all inclusive, no up-charge.) On the Explorer they had a reservation desk to enable multiple reservations in the specialty restaurants after ensuring everyone had a chance to go to every one. That was a nice touch. Plus they were open for lunch on a rotating basis with a similar but lunch sized menu. One day there was a line at Compass Rose and the matre'd looked at the computer and asked if our group of 4 wanted to go to Chartreuse French restaurant where there was no wait. Very professional and quality service to do that.
We thoroughly enjoyed the Italian themed dinners on La Veranda when not dining in the specialty restaurants. In fact we preferred it to dinners in Compass Rose (which were always wonderful offerings of daily specials or standard offering of fillet, lobster...) because we could sit outside on the stern with full waiter service, linens, stemware, and a sommelier at the ready. Their menu changed every couple days as well.
As a negative, I was surprised an the number of physical problems on such a new ship. We saw a fire suppression sprinkler open and saturate hallway on the 11th deck. Just a mechanical fault that was remedied and the carpet dried with fans for a couple days. A doorhandle came off the pool deck entry and was missing for days. The pass card lock cover from our room fell off twice and was ultimately glued back in place. a fresh water pipe leaked in our corridor and the engineers spent a 1/2 day fixing it and drying the carpet. Teak work was peeling. Hinges and latches on the sporting deck were being repaired. It was just strange to see so much repair work--not the routine maintenance of a ship in salt water--on a new vessel. One oddity was the blocked stairwell from deck 5 down to deck 4 at the stern where it led to the Compass Rose restaurant. back end. That's a design flaw because other Regent ships have front and back entrances to Compass Rose with matre'd stations while Explorer only has a front entrance. So it was strange to see straps and a cone blocking one flight of a multi-deck public stairwell.
Entertainment was pretty good. The guest musicians and magician varied from outstanding to good. The orchestra was outstanding, whether playing music in a venue or for one of the stage productions. But the song and dance troupe wasn't any where near as entertaining as we experienced on other cruises. It seems there were a guy and gal couple who were being featured and given leading roles when some of the other singers who had less seniority were clearly more talented and enjoyable to watch.
Our shore excursions were fine. They are masters on Regent at organizing and controlling the different tour groups from the show lounge. Very smooth. But probably because we were touring very poor areas of Central America there was a limit to desirable venues and sights so it got crowded once there with multiple tour busses and groups from Regent and other cruise ships. There wasn't much orchestration to deconflict 16 busses from arriving or departing a venue at the same time. We didn't have that kind of disorder on our previous Regent shore excursions. But they do a great job of finding interesting venues and quality guides.
The enhancement activities were multiple and age appropriate for almost-retired and early retired. The 2 lecturers were under the "Smithsonian" banner and delightful and informative. Unfortunately one day the speaker was in a lounge and a corn-hole/baggo tournament was scheduled right outside the entrance with open doors so the cheering was a bit disruptive to the lecturers discussion session. A small detail with consequences. There was a wide variety of things to do or attend, especially during at-sea days.
Explorer also has teaching kitchen with about 14 individual stations. We signed up for 3 of the courses and found them a great addition to their on-board offerings. Yes, there was an up-charge but it was appropriate. My wife is a an accomplished cook for entertaining groups but she too learned fully enjoyed the teaching sessions with a great chef/instructor, Two asst chefs prepare, portion into small cups, or chop the ingredients in advance. So participants are doing something new and different in preparation and not standing there chopping and peeling. Of course, appropriate wines are served. But when we did have some small amount of knife work or grating to do, the wine didn't come out until that was done. We'll do more of these again. It was unique, fun, informative, and you ate what you prepared.
Regent is just a wonderful cruise experience,. But somehow it's just not the same flawless perfection with nothing left to chance that we had on our earlier cruises with them. So we'll continue to try other travel options, such as river cruises, sailing, and large yacht trips and not just keep booking every trip as a Regent ship excursion. Read Less