We've recently returned from a fascinating cruise to Alaska. A pity the cruise didn't start in the UK because we're not at all fond of flying. We first flew to San Francisco, and were pleased that our package with Regent Seven Seas included an upgrade to Premium Economy on the long 11 hour flight. Two nights in SF gave us the opportunity to visit Alcatraz. Because it's hugely popular, we would recommend that any readers here who are contemplating a visit should book as we did online, a good month or so before you travel. We managed a fairly early ferry across to the island, and the excellent organisation there meant that we were really not aware of crowding most of the time. Worth every dime!
The following afternoon we boarded Seven Seas Navigator for our journey up to Alaska. We had cruised last year on SS Mariner in the Med, and had appreciated the smaller numbers -- 700 --- on board. Navigator is even smaller, taking just 450 passengers. Its size, and the fact that ours was the very first Alaskan cruise this year, were deciding factors in what proved a really memorable holiday. We were the only cruise ship in all the ports visited; it must be horrendous when these tiny places are overwhelmed by several large ships arriving at once. May is one of the drier months in an extremely wet part of the world, and we were incredibly lucky to experience only half a day's rain (and that was at sea!). Indeed, when we reached Ketchikan, towards the end of our cruise, the temperature was pushing 20 degrees. We did experience a day of very windy, rough weather as we headed towards our first port of call, Astoria in Oregon State, the worst we have come across on any cruise ---- many passengers wisely stayed put in their cabins.
Included excursions gave us some interesting things to do off the ship---- our favourite was probably the whale-watching trip near Juneau (we spotted Orcas and Hump-backs, sea lions and harbour seals)
Perhaps because of its size, we found Navigator to be a very friendly ship, with staff remembering drink choices etc., and we found making friends with fellow passengers easy. The inclusive nature of Regent cruises means all drinks are available at any time ---the problem is trying to say 'No'!
Our very competent Cruise Director (as last year too) was Lorraine Weimerskirch, and her boundless enthusiasm ensured a successful cruise. Food and service were superb, and although Navigator has one speciality steakhouse restaurant we would have been happy to eat in the MDR (Compass Rose) every night. Our only criticism of the cruise is that Navigator does look rather 'tired', with outdated, somewhat gloomy décor. The Prime 7 Steakhouse, is crammed into a rather narrow space alongside the main Buffet restaurant, and would perhaps benefit from being moved to the more central location currently occupied by the casino machines. But this ship IS currently awaiting a re-fit, so fingers crossed......
We finished the cruise in Vancouver, and would like to commend the excellent Four Seasons hotel, where we stayed two nights. The hop-on, hop-off buses there were, however, a total disaster. Do read the Tripadvisor reports before wasting your money!
A fabulous cruise, then, and although Alaska is a place we enjoyed but wouldn't rush back to, we are certainly looking forward to another cruise with Regent!
This is a Deluxe Suite (not Concierge). Like our 'suite' on Mariner last year it was spacious, with a huge walk-in closet, dividing curtains between bed and lounge area and bed and bathroom. Balcony was same size, too but with non-reclining seats --- a pity. We experienced noise from the balcony area on our first night (very rough sea), but this was quickly put right with a wedge inserted under the balcony door by the ship's 'carpenters'. Other than this, a very quiet cabin.