My spouse and I usually book with Celebrity in their Penthouse Suite. In 2016, our May 2017 Celebrity Equinox Film cruise was cancelled and the Celebrity Equinox was repositioned to the Caribbeans. We wanted a Mediterranean cruise with embarkation and disembarkation in Barcelona because in May 2016, we took the Celebrity Equinox Film cruise in the penthouse suite with a pre-cruise stay at the Barcelona Majestic penthouse and had a wonderful time and awesome experience.
Our travel agent recommended Regent. She explained Regent was a level above Celebrity and the Regent Explorer Itinerary met our "Barcelona" requirement. We booked the Grand Suite (GS level) because of the included amenities including priority boarding. The cruise was "all inclusive". The hotel and business class air fare was included. Regent booked us at the Melia Hotel and we upgraded to a suite (over $1200). Since we had a hotel preference to the Majestic Hotel, I asked if we could stay at the Majestic for our pre-cruise hotel accommodations. I was told the Melia Hotel would be our pre-cruise accommodations.
After departing our flight in Barcelona, we were met by a Regent representative. She said we needed to wait for the other couple who had been on our flight and was also staying at the Melia Hotel. Several more passengers arrived and they were taken to various hotels including the Majestic Hotel. I questioned the Regent representative and she said the Majestic was one of their 4 hotels.
When we arrived at the Melia Hotel, we checked in with the Regent "desk". We were given a 12:00 pm transfer to the port. Because we had priority boarding and we would be able to enter our suite at 12:00 pm, I asked if we could have the earlier transfer time to arrive at the ship by 12:00 pm. I was told "no". I asked why and was told the cruise guests who had arrived in Barcelona before us received the earlier transfers. I further questioned them and said why would they have the earlier transfer time when they could not check into their suite until 2:30 pm (remember we had the 12:00 pm priority into our suite). They said the transfer bus was full for the earlier transfer time.
We then went to our room. Upon entering our room, there was a foul odor throughout. I telephoned the front desk and they sent someone to the room to turn on the air conditioner. The odor was so bad, I started to get nauseated. I then went down to the front desk and asked for another room. We were given the exact room one floor down. It, too, had a bad smell, though not as bad as the first room. I must add while awaiting the elevator the Regent "desk" manager came to me and said we could have the earlier transfer time. I was quite surprised since we had been told there was no room on the earlier transfer bus.
The next morning, we boarded the earlier transfer bus that was half full. Yes, I did say it was half full. Remember originally we could not get the earlier transfer because it was "full".
We arrived at the port to go through security and check in. On Celebrity when we arrive at the check in counter, we are then greeted by the "suite concierge" and escorted to Michael's Club (the private lounge for suite guest) to await our butler who then escorts us to our suite. Not on Regent, though we did have a butler.
The ship is exquisite. The suite is beautiful. My only problem is for a suite of that size, there is a small closet. In addition the drawers in the closet are blocked by the door, therefore you must keep the door closed to access the additional drawers. The bathroom is quite small compared to Celebrity (the cost factor is almost twice the Celebrity cost for a Celebrity penthouse suite). In addition, you either must pay for laundry service or wash and iron your own clothes (there is a launderette). The laundry is included on Celebrity. I believe with a GS suite, laundry services should be included.
There are three specially restaurants. A steakhouse, a French, and an Asian fusion. The food is good, but "nothing to write home about". They are included in the cost. Now, you're probably thinking, on Celebrity you must pay an additional cost for their specialty restaurants. That is true, however when you book a Royal or Penthouse suite, all restaurants are included. In fact, ALL suite guest have their own intimate restaurant. The food is excellent and so is the service.
Now for the Regent shows. Absolutely below average. Again for the cruise cost, the entertainment should be top rate. This is not the case. We attended the first performance and thought if this is an indication of the production entertainment, we will not attend.
The excursions are also included in the cruise cost, however they are only fair. The guides are fair and you are hauled along in big buses. I had directly booked three private excursions with tour companies in Malta, Sicily and Marseilles and they were terrific compared to Regent's excursions. On our private excursions, their was only my spouse and I or another couple. In fact, towards the end of the cruise, many cruise guest were cancelling their Regent sponsored tours.
The highlight and most memorable part of our cruise was Ronnie, our butler, who treated us like royalty. He was awesome. He would inquire whether we were eating in the restaurants and if we were not, he would bring a menu and take our order and bring our meals to us. He even had the kitchen bake oatmeal raisin cookies when I told him of a bad experience I had had when I ordered the cookies through room service. On our last day, while at dinner, Ronnie packed all of my clothes. He had a sense of humor and made us feel quite at home in our suite.
For the cost of the cruise, it is not worth it. Some guests enjoy the smaller occupancy (750), however though Celebrity is a larger occupancy ship, it feels very small and intimate. The service is the best.
Now, I know I am to review Regent Explorer, however I must comment on an experience we had on our last Celebrity cruise. It was Valentine's Day and I asked our butler if he could organize a Valentine's night cocktail party for some of the guests we had met. George, our butler agreed. Upon our entrance into our suite, George had the table covered with a white tablecloth and rose peddles around the table. In addition he made a heart with the rose peddles in the center of the table. He had made appetizers and had the beverages chilled. He arranged for the orchestra pianist to play for several hours during our party. Though his work stop time was 10:30 pm, he stayed with us and served us. Needless to say we have six cruises booked with Celebrity through April, 2019. I'm sorry to say we will not book another Regent tour. I must give a poor service due to pre-cruise hotel accommodations and overall experience.