My wife and I have cruised on two other lines: Disney when with the grandkids and Crystal just for us. We were looking for a Med cruise this October and checked Crystal first but neither of their ships were in the area we wanted. So we took a chance and booked Regent's newest ship, the Explorer, from Venice to Istanbul. But when the problems erupted in Turkey, we switched to the Navigator from Venice to Rome. Eventually, Regent also cancelled the Istanbul stop but by then we had already switched. We were hoping Regent would be a comparable experience to Crystal, thereby expanding our luxury cruising options (we like the mid-sized ships) to more than just Crystal's two ships. It didn't work out that way.
First, the good. The food in general was better than Crystal, including the specialty restaurants. The breakfast and lunch buffets were OK but more limited. Lots of menu choices in the main dining room but also a lot of repetition from night to night. The shore excursions were free and good quality. The free part was useful in that we cancelled one or two due to bad weather.
Now to the downsides. First, the ship itself. Low ceilings, lots of vibration, no central grand public areas, stinky toilets, malfunctioning a/c, tiny casino with not much action, limited on board activities (no movie theater, few enrichment activities such as painting, computer, cooking, language or golf classes), and, despite the recent renovation, a tired overall look. We were told that the drydock was much shorter than advertised. Repairs continued during our cruise, such as replacing doors, refinishing outdoor decking, etc. This made much of the ship an obstacle course, since you never knew what areas would be closed. When it rained, water would puddle up on the deck, making passage impossible from one area to another. Overall, the ship did not succed at being either luxurious or intimate, as their advertising would have you believe.
Next, the service. This is where we really missed Crystal. Onboard, wait staff were indifferently trained. Little things like serving plates from the wrong side to clearing dishes before all at the table were finished, to more important things like not knowing your name, not following thru on requests, getting orders wrong, etc. Some examples. The hair dryer in the room wasn't working so we asked for a replacement. It never came. Wanted to cash out some chips (when the casino was open) but was told the cashier was out to lunch and no one else could help. Staff on deck did not understand why I would want a fork to eat my salad with since I was seated at a lounge chair instead of a table. Reception, destination services and concierge desks were not staffed on any kind of regular schedule. While you could arrange a medical consultation if you needed one, there was no 24 hour accessible area to just pick up a Tylenol or other OTC medication. Poolside grill service was very slow. Staff seemed to be all over you when you didn't want them and nowhere to be found when you did. Please don't come over three times and ask if I"m finished eating when I am clearly not, then leave the plate to attract flies when I clearly am finished.
On Crystal, at the concierge suite level, one could order room service from the main dining room or any of the specialty restaurants (and in any combination). In a comparable suite level on Regent, room service was limited to items on the room service menu itself or only from the main dining room. The level of English fluency was much lower than on Crystal and the staff were not as varied as to nationalities. I don't think all the world should just speak English, but a luxury line catering to lots of British, Australians and Americans could do a little better in this area.
Shuttle service to the port town centers was not handled very well, overall. One particularly bad example was in Corfu, where it was pouring down rain. Regent had no shelter tent set up at the pickup point to wait under for the bus, altho other lines did. Then when we got back to the ship, the bus parked a couple hundred yards from the ship and we had to walk in the heavy rain with no shuttle, tenting or staff with extra umbrellas to help.
Many of the ship design issues are just baked in to the experience and there is little Regent can do about that. But the maintenance and service issues are things they could certainly address. While one could certainly consider a number of the things I mentioned as "first world problems," the fact is that when you spend at this level, you should have a right to expect a superior experieince. Regent simply did not deliver this. Back to Crystal!