This cruise was our first...booked at the last minute as a "shake-down cruise" to familiarize ourselves with cruising prior to a 15-day cruise we had booked for Autumn. I chose Regent because of an ad in "Travel and Leisure" magazine, and I am so glad I did. We booked a Penthouse-level suite, and so had Business Class Air and a pre-trip hotel in Copenhagen as part of the package.
Regent offered Icelandia Airlines Business Class, but my research indicated we would be disappointed with them, so we upgraded (for $2500! Seemed like a lot, to me. Regent must get REALLY cheap "business class" tickets!) to Air Canada, which flew us non-stop to CPH. A Regent agent met us at CPH and seamlessly organized our transfer to the Marriott Hotel. Our room was lovely and very comfortable. We took a canal boat tour that first day, arranged through the hotel concierge, and enjoyed it very much. The next morning, Regent picked up our baggage to take to the ship, and provided us with a very nice coach tour of Copenhagen.
Once on the ship, Regent gallantly helped my husband, who does not walk strongly, up the long gangplank on one of their wheelchairs. We were soon in our comfortable handicapped-equipped suite, being greeted by our wonderful butler, Samir. He introduced us to various features of the suite and the ship, and looked after us SO efficiently for our entire trip. As much as anything, he sold us on Regent!
In talking with Samir, we had come to realize that some of the tours we had pre-booked would probably be too strenuous for my husband. This is an area Regent could improve on...It seems clear that they often simply take the tour operator's word for how "strenuous" a tour is, and do not check it themselves. The resulting misleading descriptions can cause real discomfort and anxiety for those who are not physically strong. Samir helped us cancel and rebook tours, but in Warnemunde, we simply stayed on the ship. No tour was "gentle" enough for him, in terms of terrain and stamina. In Tallinn, we took the shuttle into the town, thinking it would go to the scenic "tourist" area. When it stopped a 10 minute or so walk from that area, we simply rode it back to the ship. That was a disappointment.
The service and food on the ship, with 2 exceptions, was exemplary. I have read a negative review written by someone on this same cruise and simply could not believe it! we never saw disarray or a lack of cleanliness. Just the opposite, in fact. One day, I noticed a maid on the floor actually POLISHING the brass strip between the carpet and the wood floor. This ship was spotless, everywhere we looked. The many glass and chrome surfaces had NO fingerprints, smudges, etc. There were giant bouquets of lovely fresh flowers everywhere, etc. The staff were all so friendly that we jokingly complained about how very many times we had to respond to "Hello. How are you today?" as we walked about the ship! We were constantly asked if we wanted anything and every effort was made to be sure we were content. Perhaps you get back what you give out. I cannot otherwise explain how there could be complaints about this crew!
The food was consistently very, very good, and the desserts were TOO good! However, there was so much fresh fruit and delicious vegetables that I gained only 4 pounds...and have already lost it, 2 weeks later. We were disappointed in the steaks at exception of the steak in Prime 7, which we found to be only average...a bit tough and short on flavor. We chalked that off, with typical American chauvenism, I suppose, to the rest of the world perhaps being impressed with beef we regard as only average. Certainly, it did not appear to be prime beef, properly dry-aged. The whole Prime 7 experience was otherwise very nice. The other exception was Setti Mari, which we visited only the last night. We found the service to be disorganized and careless... the old tablecloth still on our table, no water glass at one of the place settings, ALL the utensils cleared when the canapé dishes were cleared, cold soup, etc... as if the staff were new or untrained. The Maitre de', who we normally count on to notice and correct such problems, was apparantly too intensely interested in talking to a select few special guests to supervise the quality of service in his "room," and we all suffered for it.
Upon disembarkation, we were escorted efficiently to Stockholm airport by a Regent agent, who went "the extra mile" for me. I had ordered a wheelchair from the airline for the airport, but, even though we were flying business Class, none was forthcoming. It seems it was a holiday weekend in Sweden (watch out for "Midsommer"!) This lovely Regent lady found a chair for us, and then helped me get him to the baggage-check line. I am very grateful.
We were so impressed that i am right now in the process of booking a 17 day Carribean cruise on Regent for November of this year.
This "Handicapped" suite was very comfortable and very well laid out. I especially liked the window over the computer desk and the adjacent well-lighted vanity desk. The alarm clock was a very nice touch, as were the reading lights over the bed. Negatives? Well, it's not very comfortable to sit on the sofa and look sideways at the TV while watching a movie, a second chair would have been nice. Also, I am 5'4" and could not reach the glasses on the top shelf over the bar. Yes, I know I could have called Samir, but it was late and i didn't want to disturb him for such a small thing.BTW, every day, probably on instructions, he took away perfectly good fruit and replaced it. Seemed like a waste!
The tours all required too much strenuous walking for my husband. It would have been nice if the shuttle took us into the old section of town, where i read there was a market square, etc. We could have sat there and absorbed the life of the town. But the shuttle stopped too far away for even i to walk it.
The cruise was very nice, though we had no idea where we were on the map we were given, Actually, I think we were OFF the map most of the time. The guide with the English accent was charming, informative and wryly funny. We enjoyed her very much. The Market was colorful and interesting and I spent a lot of money! The "shuttle" back to the ship was nowhere to be found, but luckily i shared a cab with some other passengers who took pity on me,,,I had no local money and it was too far for me to walk.
Both the old and the outside markets were colorful and interesting. Wish I'd had some local money, to try the interesting food and pastries. But I had my MasterCard!!View All 8 Market Square Reviews
Due to my husband’s difficulty with walking, we took few tours on this cruise, but the ones we did take were wonderful. We especially wanted to compliment you on your choice of the guide for our June 25 afternoon “Highlights of St.Petersburg” bus tour. Her name was Maria and she made the city and the Russian people come alive for us. Her English was uniquely cadenced and charmingly fractured (She called group assemblies in St. Peter’s Square “manifestations.” for instance.) However, we soon came to understand her vocabulary, pronunciation and inflection, and were charmed by it. She was very informative, full of anecdotes and historical details and humorous comments on Russia’s past and present. She was most attentive to our desire for good photos and pointed out opportunities for shots. She filled her comments with “inside” anecdotes about things like Anastasia, the city’s history, day-to-day life in St. Petersburg, life since the USSR and even Vladimir Putin. Her entertaining and informative tour eased our regret that we could not tour the Hermitage, or Peter’s and Catherine’s Palaces, due to the walking.She exemplifies the qualities that make Regent so special.View All 378 City Tour Reviews