This new adventure started last October 8th in Civitavecchia (Rome) and ended eight days later in Athens (Greece). Indeed it was too short a time to be able to experience fully all the many amazing things you find and see in each visited ... Read More
This new adventure started last October 8th in Civitavecchia (Rome) and ended eight days later in Athens (Greece). Indeed it was too short a time to be able to experience fully all the many amazing things you find and see in each visited port but also there is not enough time to properly get to know and fully enjoy this fantastic vessel, the Regent Seven Seas Voyager!
We left our home country Canada on Oct.6th from Ottawa via Toronto to Rome. A very long leg for sure but we did so one day early to compensate. Our choice of hotel in Civitavecchia was a complete flop! The San Giorgio regardless its impressive entrance, the two level room had the bedroom upstairs and the bathroom downstairs!!! With a miserable and dangerous staircase – very disappointing as it all looked so wonderful on the website. We ended up sleeping on the lower level in a very unusual sofa bed in very poor shape. The staff at the reception were not very helpful and the included breakfast was more than complete but poorly staffed, as a matter of fact only one person going from one end to other and not even saying good morning. Local room tax was only 1 euro each, a ridiculous amount but appreciated when compared to our last European stay in Amsterdam where they charged 20 euros per person per day.
The best aspect of the hotel was the shuttle @ 10 euros each, right up to the ship; first time this happened to us because with previous cruise lines the shuttle would leave you on a corner where you had to switch over to another bus to get to the ship.
Flawless and the welcoming glass of champagne was a very nice touch something that some cruise lines used to do but not anymore, what a pity! Surprisingly all suites were not ready till 2 pm, except (of course), the top two ones (ready at noon); luggage at suite by 4 pm. Regardless, our first impression of the Voyager was excellent and it’s impossible to deny that she is indeed a luxury ship. Was a sunny and warm day, weather that followed us during the whole cruise!
We want you to know that we are frequent cruisers with Oceania (mainly on Riviera and Marina), so our minds were naturally making comparisons. Who’s the winner? You have to wait. Because we were on board quite early, having to wait for our suite till 2 pm, gave us the chance to get a fast look around the ship and afterwards we went up to Deck 11 to have an al fresco lunch at La Veranda buffet (comparisons started!!), Huge amount of choices (self-serve….hmmmm), great quality and flavour and to top it up, fantastic attention from all the staff something that never ever wavered during the whole cruise. To the contrary!
* Lunch time meals
We tried several times to have another al fresco lunch at La Veranda but the area is quite narrow not been able to hold many tables and when those were taken, the people were there to stay, so we started to frequent the Polo Grill located at the aft end of the pool area (very tranquil by the way) and we enjoyed it tremendously having delicious salads, burgers and hotdogs or from the on deck grill your choice of fish, beef, pork or chicken. You help yourself for the salads, then you order the main meal that comes with good fries and is brought to your table. The serving of wine was constant (no need to ask) and the sun was ever present! I don’t think I have to tell you how fantastic we were feeling during all this, right?
* Coffee Connection (D 5)
It runs from 6:30am till 6pm and is a very peaceful place where whether it’s morning or afternoon, you won’t have people moving back and forth around you. Breakfast buffet options include cereal, rolls, breads, pastries, etc. and the ship’s best espresso. Midday snacks include cold meats, cheeses, small desserts, etc. and in the afternoon sandwiches, cakes and fruit are available. Besides the excellent espresso you get the usual barista concoctions plus spiked versions such as Irish coffee and Russian hot chocolate with vodka. It is a place you can indeed have a very enjoyable and tranquil time.
We tried all three specialty dinning venues which, except for the Italian restaurant, require advanced table reservations. If you wish to sit at a table for two you will have to plan well ahead and do so as soon as the website is opened for that cruise’s specialty dining reservations.
* Sette Mari (Italian D 11, part of La Veranda); Maître d’ Simone, waiters Janine and John and the rest of the staff were excellent as the food itself, temperature, flavour and timing and of course! The wines that were selected by them (and varied during the cruise) were great and plentiful. With dessert, the Maître d’ brought to us two very welcome glasses of Limoncello. Great experience!
* Prime 7 (Steak house D 5 Aft); Maitre d’ was seasoned but strange (although from Belgium he was unfamiliar with Jacques Pepin) but the rest of the staff, as usual, magnificent. The décor was on the dark side with a lot of varnished wood paneling, leather covered columns, etc. Now let’s talk about the main reason why we went there, the food! Shall we? No complaints from the start to the end; excellent lump crab cakes, filet mignon cooked to perfection, great side dishes ending with a shared Chicago cheesecake. The selection of wines were perfect for each dish and with a never ending pouring! One more time, it was an excellent experience.
* Chartreuse (French D 5 Aft); It’s getting a bit boring repeating always the same thing “super” “excellent” “sensational” but what else can I say when what we were experiencing was just all that? Chartreuse was another hit, the décor was super elegant being the beige and gold quite predominant. Food was perfect (I won’t get into details) as much as desserts. The chosen wines were extremely good (the best of all other restaurants) specially the red Chateauneff-du-Pape. Left feeling great!
* Compass Rose (Main Dining Room D 4) – One more time, nothing but nothing at all to complain about. Staff, menu, table setting with colorful plates by Versace, ambience, food and…wine! We had dinner there twice and both times were very gratifying in all aspects.
We’ve been in two of them and each has its own characteristic and personality,
* Horizon Lounge (D 5 Midship) A very good spot to meet fellow passengers, a lot of dancing, singing and of course drinking! The Far East ethnic band was a bit off tune but could play any request. On a longer cruise we would have spent more time there.
* Observation Lounge (11) A completely different experience, being at the front of the ship the views (if you go during the day) were great plus the whole atmosphere exudes tranquility and that makes you relax! Highly recommended for after dinner drinks or just listening to whoever is playing the piano or singing. The bar is very modern and a bit too white-light bright.
Enough about food and drink, so let’s now talk about ports visited and tours. Many of the visited ports were already known to us so there was no need to overdo the tours. We find touring is a lot of unnecessary pressure most of the time, from the other guests as much as from often weird tour guides. Let’s start with the port after leaving Civitavecchia.
Boscaada, an Island, where we had a planned tour but we cancelled it dreaming about enjoying the last day on the ship meanwhile many were off touring the island. Unfortunately that last night before leaving Istanbul a ship announcement told us that technical problems required us to sail at a slower speed and so that for us to arrive in Athens on time, the Boscaada stop had to be cancelled; that meant to us the ship would be brimming with people that sea day! And it really was. Later on we got a note in our suite telling us that to compensate for having to skip Boscaada they were giving each of us a US$ 500.- next cruise credit. That worked out fine for us because we had already booked a 10 day Regent cruise on their newest ship, the Splendor.
* Disembarkation went off very smoothly and was well planned.
But before I get into that, I would like to give you our comparison between Regent SS Voyager (700 passengers) and Oceania’s two largest ships (1200 passengers each), the Riviera and the Marina.
Oceania by far has a better al fresco lunch or dinner at La Terrace, very ample and comfortable that holds a large number of very well-spaced tables with adjustable umbrellas. La Veranda buffet on Voyager is a winner on all counts, for selection, quality, presentation, etc. though we disliked having to serve ourselves with utensils touched by many, something that doesn’t happen on any of the Oceania ships; it’s up to the staff behind the counter to provide the desired serving.
* The Riviera and Marina have more restaurants to choose for dinner, 6 including 4 specialty (reservations needed), La Terrace and Grand Dining Room, against a total of 4 on Voyager, that besides the three specialty ones (two with reservations needed) and the main dining room, the Compass Rose.
* About food. As I am not a foodie person there is not much I can say about it but it is impossible not to mention the staff of the SS Voyager because without any hesitation I considered them the best of the whole Cruise Industry and we all know very well that the Staff of a ship are able to make or destroy your cruise. The Oceania Staff are not consistent and from time to time that means you might not enjoy yourself to the fullest.
* The Penthouses on both lines are of a good size but Voyager is bigger with a wonderfully sized dining table and a more ample bathroom especially the shower stall compared to Oceania. On Voyager it is also worth mentioning that you can separate the bed from the living/dining area with a heavy drape so the Butler can come in, do his job meanwhile you are still are resting privately in the bedroom area. The perks, again are by far superior on SS Voyager for example providing the choice of 2 large bottles of liquor in the suite was an incredible surprise.
* Tours - In general we are more often than not trying to avoid them because it doesn’t matter which line you are on, by taking a tour or excursion you are opening yourself to all kinds of chaos and a lot of time and social pressures. There are two things we really liked on the SS Voyager, the quality of the passengers and not having to show your Suite card every time you ordered a glass of wine or spirits.
The most important aspects were already compared so it’s better to leave it at that and stop here. You might be asking yourself, “So how about giving us your choice?” Very simple, both of them because both have a lot to offer and it is up to us to adjust ourselves when we are on board and to try to make the best of it! We really hope that our comparisons and conclusions will be helpful in some way for many if not all of the readers.
Are you still there? Ha, ha, ha; on looking over this review it seems that it turned out to be a very long one …… but there was so much to say about our experiences. Keep in mind that thru other’s experiences one is able to learn what to do or not to do, etc. That is our goal every time we write a review. Did we accomplish that for you? We certainly hope so!
Happy cruising and enjoy life as much as you can! Read Less