We'd previously cruised the RSSC Alaska route on the Navigator Ship and choose to do the cruise again with friends but this time it was the Mariners route. The Mariner is almost double the size but very similar in the overall treatment of and services for guests. Billed as the first all-suite ship, Mariner is certainly a lovely ship. Granted, it's gracious but dated interior was due for a make-over in dry-dock in April 2017 but was postponed until April 2018. We're sure the renovations will be stunning.
Public areas are never crowed (even during disembarkation at ports). There are numerous spaces for couples or groups to gather both inside and outside. The boutique shops are small, few and feel more like souvenir shops than the more specialized and higher-end shops on the Navigator.
All the rooms are very spacious with generous balconies. Our suite, Horizon, was at the back of the ship and was very comfortable with a huge balcony. Our Butler, Ryan, was the true gem of our cruise and seemed to raise everything up a level or two every time we turned around. We found dinner in the restaurants (general and specialty) less than enjoyable with sporadic service and mediocre food. However, we enjoyed private dinners on our deck or in the room three times and the food always seemed much better, hotter/colder as appropriate and very timely. In fact, we accused Ryan of having a camera in room because he would magically appear to clear dishes or serve the next course just as the last of our group set down their fork.
One area we suggest they examine is the liquor set-up. My husband asked for Scotch and Cognac and I asked for Grand Marnier. The bottles were HUGE and between us and our friends next door, we only managed to drink half of the scotch and only a portion of the cognac. Maybe smaller bottles would be a good idea and we could ask for more if needed. Of course the private wine selection was very good (although they were out or limited on several) and they happily ensured our bottles were chilled or breathing in time for our afternoon canapes.
Our roomkeepers, Sri and Sachin, were very pleasant, thorough and seemingly refreshed the room each time we stepped out. They even got a chuckle doing our turn-down service watching Ryan juggle the dishes, wine, and our constant questions.
Kristina and Kassy in the Horizon bar were stellar and worked like a well-oiled machine. We would sit in amazement watching them handle the rush of guests arriving after the shows ended. Kristina directed traffic, guided staff and mixed drinks and made guests feel welcome all at the same time. Kassy just churned out drinks, smiling all the while.
The pool is saltwater and heated and the three hot tubs were uncrowded and always steaming. There were several children on the cruise and they seemed to enjoy the pool throughout the cruise, even on the coldest days!
The excursions were very good and, unlike our first Alaska cruise, were all conducted. Some reviewers criticize RSSC for cancelled excursions but in fairness, it's Alaska and weather is variable by the hour and unless RSSC has more power than I know, they can't do anything to change it. Even tho our excursions were all held, the ice was too thick to go close to the Hubbard Glacier so instead of the fabulous up-close view we had on our first cruise, we only saw it in the distance on this one.
Our Captain, a lady (woot woot), seemed to set a pace in the ship that was just a bit too fast. We were always early in port, leaving exactly at the departure time each day. This seems to run over to general staff too in that they always seemed to be rushed but not rude and in a hurry to deal with you and go on. In fact, we had to ask them to slow down our meals at the specialty restaurants so our "relaxing meal" could last more than 45 minutes!
It's hard to feed 700 people and please them in all areas. Maybe a higher level food experience for us foodies would be a good addition to the services provided.
Regent may look more expensive than other cruises but when you factor in everything you get - airfare, meals, drinks, excursions, entertainment, etc. - it's definitely a good value cruise.
In summary, yes the ship needs updating but overall it's still a lovely ship. Sort of like your grandmothers house: fine details, a little rough around the edge but loaded with history, love, care and the desire to see you again.
Spacious and lovely room with curtains between bed and living area for privacy. It's a bit tight between the wall and bed so be prepared to turn sideways to get in. The bathroom is much smaller than the Navigator suites but very functional and always clean. The amenities are very nice and refreshed daily.
Vancouver is a clean and safe city to just walk around and enjoy!
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