We just returned from a cruise on the Regent Mariner. We were so disappointed. Last year, we cruised on the new Oceania Marina. It was absolutely wonderful, but this year we decided to kick it up a notch and try Regent, mostly because of the Black Sea itinerary. In every single category, Oceania was superior. On both ships, we booked a penthouse suite. Although a few feet bigger, the Mariner suite was not nearly as nice. Although the ship says it was refurbished in 2011, our suite's furniture was quite shabby. In addition, the arrangement of all was inferior. The deck was very narrow, and the bathroom was tiny. We had to ask for lounges to replace the very uncomfortable little chairs they had put on the deck.
The food in general was a HUGE disappointment. In both the specialty restaurants and the main dining room we many times felt as though we were invisible because the service took so long. When you have to wait 20 minutes to place your order, and then the waiter does not show up as though he had forgotten you even existed, and you must flag down another waiter to track down your order, you begin to wonder about the luxury label. The only dinner we can truly say was memorable was our dinner at the captains table. The two specialty restaurants left a great deal to be desired. In both, we received main courses that were not cooked to our instructions. It wasn't just us, but four out of the six people at our table. Medium beef should not arrive with blood pooling under the meat and the center so cold it hadn't even been touched by the fire. The same with lamb chops on another evening. Five of the ten evening's dinners were a disappointment.
The free tours were no better then the run-of-the-mill tours on other ships. The drinks are free but finding a waiter who wants to serve them is often a challenge. The pool bar closes at 6:00 PM, which is not what you want when you're looking for a cool dip and drink after a day of touring. None of the lunch venues stays open pass 1:30 except the pool bar, where you must wait to place your order in a cramped narrow and very smoky area.
There were a couple of pluses. The production shows were excellent, room service was very good, and our butler Bish was terrific. I know that a lot of people love Regent and are repeat customers. However, I have never been on a cruise where so many passengers were complaining about so many things. Sorry Regent, but we won't be coming back.
Penthouse suites are not a great bargain. You gain only a few extra feet and a butler, which is not needed because your cabin steward does pretty much the same thing.