We decided to book this cruise rather late in the game as Regent kept sweetening the deal with OBC and business air. The itinerary was 21 days and took us from Dubai to Barcelona, including ports in Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy. I imagine that the unpredictability of the Middle East scared off many passengers but by the time we sailed, we had 680 hardy passengers on board.
This was our 5th Regent cruise and, honestly, the best one to date. I frequently read negative CC reviews of Regent and I sometimes wonder if we are really sailing the same cruise line. I guess if you expect bowing and scraping and perfection, then this is not the cruise line for you! However, I doubt that any cruise line would meet those expectations. For the most part, our needs were met before they even crossed our minds.
Cabin and cabin service was excellent. We had the most congenial team and whenever I would leave a note (most often for more champagne!), the requested item was there when we returned to our cabin. As described in most reviews, the cabins are spacious with a sleeping area, a lounge, a balcony, and a large bathroom and closet. The ship is going into dry dock later this year for a whole ship refurbishment. The cabins were in good shape but the décor could use refreshing, although it was nowhere near objectionable.
Food was also very good, especially in Compass Rose and during the lunch BBQ’s. The chef offered daily specials that reflected the tastes of the region and they were universally excellent. He managed to source local fish and I chose these dishes for almost all my meals. In fact, during one Asian BBQ lunch, they had a huge vat of seafood Thai Green Curry – tiny clams, mussels, lobster, shrimp, fish…oh my, was that delicious. I went back for two servings and snagged the recipe from the sous-chef who was responsible for the dish.
The entire staff was gracious with the Captain, General Manager, and Cruise Director frequently visible throughout the ship. The dining room staff was delightful and efficient and not only remembered our names but our preferences. The one negative in the 21 days we were on board was in the Signatures restaurant. I’m not sure if they were having a “moment” but the service was at a snail’s pace and quite disorganized. After 2+ hours and no dessert or waiter to serve it, we walked out.
I think what made this cruise so special was that it was an “Artful Travelers” cruise. Artful Travelers is a program where PBS and NPR contributors travel with us and give lectures on their subjects. We had the privilege of sailing with the executive producer of a documentary series, a documentary filmmaker, a conservationist, and a lyricist. In addition to the lectures, meet & greets, and cocktail parties, you could also sign up to have dinner with these very smart and accomplished people who were also wonderful conversationalists.
One final story to convince you just how special Regent makes its passengers feel. We had a long day in Israel traveling to Jerusalem. Most excursions, including ours, were 12+ hours. We arrived at the ship late, bedraggled, hot (Israel was having an unusual heat wave for that time of year) and bone tired. We were greeted with cold towels, a live band playing “We are Family”, and many of the staff forming two lines to greet us, clapping and cheering. We danced down the line, no longer tired at all, because we got a good dose of Regent love!