Traveling is my passion, but my dream vacation with Regent Cruses turned into a nightmare. If you are thinking about cruising with Regent you need to read about the series of unfortunate events that happened to me on my trip aboard the S.S. Mariner that began with our not having heat in our cabin, suite 735, for the first four days of the cruise, and culminated with my sister and I developing severely chapped skin, and me developing bronchitis and a fractured ankle. The trip was Regent Seven Seas Cruises headquartered at 7665 Corporate Center Drive, Miami, Florida 33126. Our cruise was from Montreal to Miami from October 21, 2016 through November 4, 2016.
We boarded the S.S. Mariner in Montreal in the afternoon of October 21, 2016. It was a sunny day in the 50s. Although it was a bit cool in our cabin, we did not think much of it and dressed warmly for dinner. The next morning we were quite cold when we awoke. It was October 22nd and it was in the 40s where we were in Quebec City. We turned up the control on the suite heating system. When it remained cold during the day we thought possibly we were not operating the system properly. We asked our Steward to come show us how to increase the heat in our room. He did, and we had all the red lights lit for maximum heat that night. We went to bed convinced that it would be better by morning. By the next day, October 23rd we were at sea all day, and our room clearly had no heat whatsoever. It was a very dry cold. I went to the boutique and bought a $3 tube of Chap Stick for my chapping lips. We notified the Steward that we had “no heat”. The Steward said he would report it. After no one came we phoned Reception. Then after no one came we reported to the Concierge. Meanwhile we re-reported to our Steward and our housekeeper. By late in the day we were phoning Reception, the Concierge, the Steward, our housekeeper, and a waiter more times than we could count. That night we slept in our clothes. I wore a silk long sleeved turtle neck thermos top with a fleece jacket, stretch pants, and socks. By morning I woke up with a very sore throat, cough and a cold. We both had chapped skin as well. I went to the salon to try to get a gentle moisturizer. Even eye cream, the gentlest cream we had, would make our skin sting. The skin expert was not available, but the man at the counter suggested something. Because it cost $186 (a lot of money to me) I decided to wait and talk to the skin expert.
The next day we repeated our efforts to try to get someone to the room. By then it was October 24th, and we were in Sydney, Nova Scotia where the temperature was in the low 40s. I was in bed with my cold all day. Still, I frequently called Reception, Concierge, and 8888 (the number for room service and the Steward). It was always difficult to know if whoever we were talking to understood because their English was not very good. I happen to speak English, Spanish, Italian and Russian so I could communicate with those crew members, but most were from other places. I tried to keep the message simple “no heat in our cabin”, but still no one came. In the afternoon, a nice man from Bulgaria showed up to fix our balcony door. Obviously we were misunderstood by someone we reported our problem to. Somehow someone we called thought that cold air was coming in our room because of a broken balcony door. The door was fine. The man’s English was quite good so we again explained to him our dilemma. He understood. He was quite tall, and he put his hand up to the vent on the ceiling, and said “yes there is not any heat in this cabin.” He also said he would try to get help from an appropriate repair person. A young boy came who after tinkering with the control got in the ceiling in the closet to make repairs. His English was quite poor. When he left we weren’t sure if it was repaired or not. But we gave it some time to get warmer. Thankfully, very gradually it began to become warmer in our room. On October 25th we were in Halifax, Nova Scotia where the temperature was in the upper 30s. Our room was still chilled, but some heat was coming through. It was never actually warm during the next week. It wasn’t truly warm until we were in South Florida, but at least it was not near freezing anymore.
Still, by that time we were physically experiencing the consequences of four days without heat. Hypoallergenic eye cream still stung our skin. The dry cold had made our skin everywhere, including our scalp, red and sore. On October 25th, I went back to the Canyon Ranch salon, and talked with the skin expert, Joanna. Joanna suggested the $186 jar of skin cream. I sampled it, and it too stung my skin. She said: “This is the gentlest moisturizer we have. Madam, your skin is severely damaged.” During the next week our skin flaked off (everywhere including in our hair). Our skin did not stop flaking until after our return to south Florida in early November.
Meanwhile, my cold and cough worsened. When I saw my pulmonologist after returning, he explained to me that the cold temperature of the air going into my lungs created an accumulation of mucus. The accumulated mucus attracted bacteria, and that made it inevitable that I would develop bronchitis. On the evening of October 26th while we were cruising to Portland, Maine, I went to the ship’s doctor. They immediately handed me a mask because of my cough. He performed an influenza test and a CBC blood test. I had a 100 degree fever, bad cough, and was given an antibiotic, cough medicine, and masks for both myself and my sister to wear. I returned to the cabin and spent the next several days in bed. The next day, October 27th, I phoned my doctor, and she suggested that the ship’s doctor give me enough antibiotics for the remainder of the trip (10 days). I returned that evening, and he did.
On October 29th we arrived in Manhattan. Before the cruise my boyfriend had purchased tickets to “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Broadway Theatre. The tickets cost $314. Beginning on October 26th we contacted the Concierge to help us sell the tickets because I felt I would not be able to go. I gave her all the details of the tickets, and was even willing to sell them at a loss. She told me no one asked for tickets. When the tickets didn’t sell, I slept all day, bundled up, and went to the theater with my sister. During the play I was coughing so badly that I got up to go to the lobby. I fell, and later learned I fractured my right ankle. My sister and another person in the audience took me to the lobby where I raised my foot and put ice on it. My sister ran to a drug store to get a wrap for it to help me make it back to the ship. We did make it back with me holding on to my sister and hopping on my left leg, and the added help of a very cooperative taxi driver. When we boarded the ship we did not receive any help whatsoever from the crew.
The next day, October 30th, I phoned for someone to bring a wheel chair to take me to the ship’s doctor. I returned to the ship’s doctor who again handed me a mask because of my bad cough. His x-ray equipment appeared to be malfunctioning. He gave me an injection of something (he never told me what), gave me some sample packets of ibuprofen for the pain, gave me an additional bandage for compression and support on my ankle, and told me to see an orthopedist as soon as I got home. I figured I would find out what the injection was when I received the “Medical Services Bill”, but a bill never arrived. They did let me borrow the wheel chair which I found easy to maneuver. Between the wheel chair, holding on to things, and hopping on my left leg I was able to function. I did try going to dinner one night because we had reservations at the Prime 7. Having my leg down for that long proved to be too painful. Incidentally, because I was on antibiotics I wanted water to stay hydrated. People’s wine glasses were filled several times, on this all-inclusive cruise, to each time I managed to get water. When they came I tried to tell them that I needed a lot of water, but again I think the language barrier got in the way. Therefore, I chose to stay in my room with my leg elevated and order room service for the remainder of the trip.
On November 4th in Miami we woke up early ready to disembark. Several days earlier I had arranged for someone to assist us in disembarking since I was confined to the wheel chair and my sister would be handling both carry-on bags. I reconfirmed our arrangements on November 3rd , the day before disembarking. Whoever I spoke with on the phone told us that someone would be picking us up at 8:30 a.m. I questioned them because our instructions were to be out of our room by 8:00 a.m., and she assured me that 8:30 would not be any problem. No one came. At 9:00 we called 8888 or Reception. They said they were running behind. At 9:30 we phoned again, and they indicated someone would come. Around then we started phoning every 15 minutes. When it was nearly 11:00 we got a call saying “Madam, why have you not left your room?” Apparently we had been forgotten! All our phone calls asking to be picked up were ineffective and ignored. Apparently when you report any sort of a problem it is ignored! Finally, someone came. By then the ship was absolutely empty. No cabs were available because the disembark time was over. The person at the taxi stand did phone for a cab, and 10 minutes later we actually got one.
My sister drove me back to Fort Myers where I had prearranged for an electric scooter chair to be delivered to my home, and I had a doctor’s appointment at 3:00 p.m. that I was able to drive to on my scooter chair. Although I had been on antibiotics for 10 days my bronchitis was severe. They decided to call an ambulance and take me to Gulf Coast Hospital. In the hospital they gave me a breathing treatment, and performed several other tests and X-rays. They determined I had severe bronchitis and a fractured right ankle. I was given three prescriptions for my bronchitis including another antibiotic for another 10 days, a steroid, an inhaler, and an orthopedic boot for my fractured ankle. I am now receiving follow-up care from my primary care doctor, a pulmonologist, and an orthopedist. The orthopedist said that although I have the most painful sort of fracture, my ankle should heal completely with possible physical therapy in around 12 weeks.
It appears their crew truly doesn't speak English, and they are programed to perform certain duties such as to smile and fill a wine glass, but if you have any problem major (no heat) or minor (needing help disembarking or getting water at dinner) you are out of luck and destined to be extremely disappointed.
Incidentally, Medicare does not cover injuries outside the US. My medical bills have exceeded the cost of my trip!