After a dozen cruises on large common cruise lines, my husband and I chose Regent. We’ve been on the 7 Seas Explorer 3 times in the past 3 years. We plan on going on another Regent cruise, they are that good. The first two were in Europe and the last one was in the Caribbean. We are in our early 60’s, fit, & seasoned travelers.
All 3 of the cruises had truly excellent service in all areas. This is a main attraction along with their gourmet food. All 3 times we have had true culinary experiences in their restaurants, Prime 7 and Pacific Rim in particular. Their service and food are clearly superior to all the major large cruise lines.
Although Regent is a more expensive cruise line, it’s totally worth it. Also, all of the tipping/service charges are included. For me, that’s a relief. It’s hard to figure out how they get such friendly, helpful, respectful workers but they do. All of the rooms have verandas, as well.
The majority of the passengers of the 3 we were on, were probably average age of 70 - at least it seemed like it. I’d like to know the true average age. To be honest, on the first night of the first cruise I looked around the dining room and the main lobby and thought: “OMG, I am trapped in in floating nursing home.” There are a lot of slow-moving passengers using canes and walkers which is quite a contrast to some of the other cruise lines we’ve been on. Some have wheelchairs and personal assistants; but as the week went on, we realized there were a lot of advantages to being the younger ones on an older-person’s cruise.
First of all, I ended up being inspired by these older, handicapped passengers who continued to enjoy life despite their difficulties with ambulation etc. Most of the time, they yield the hallway to the faster-moving passengers. They are respectful and courteous. They converse in just the right amount of pleasantries. If you wanted to talk, most had very interesting lives and stories to tell. Never even once did we see anyone drunk or causing a problem. The “active” excursions are usually small since most of the older passengers choose less energetic tours (there were only 6 of us who went on the jungle river tubing experience in Belize - which actually was rather boring and don’t recommend it but it was very personalized). The gym and spa area are practically empty (except for a few of the staff working out). I found all of this to be tremendously advantageous.
A few tips: If you can’t get the excursion you want when you first book your cruise on line - check back before you leave and definitely when you get on board. People often cancel and the cruise line adds excursions. You can almost always get what you want if you are a little persistent.
The excursions in Europe were really well done and totally worth going on - even if you’re not a group-tour kind of person. The tour guides know the history, culture, and geography of the area and it’s a very good learning experience. There wasn’t even one disappointing tour. It’s a little frustrating with loading up the bus with slow-moving passengers but as long as you know it ahead of time, just don’t rush back to be first on the bus. Linger at your destination and enjoy the extra time while the bus is being loaded. I could go on FOREVER about the EXCELLENT ports of call in Europe; but suffice it to say you would not be disappointed on the cruise that starts in Rome going through the Mediterranean or the cruise that starts in Athens and goes up the Aegean coast line. They were truly breathtaking & fascinating.
The Caribbean excursions were not as good as the European cruise excursions; but I think it’s a reflection of the countries. The tour guides in Belize, Guatemala, and especially Honduras were somewhat disorganized and the guides had little to say on the bus which was a bit disappointing but not a huge negative. All of the Mexican ports of call, the Grand Cayman, and Key West were terrific though.
For us, the Caribbean excursions took up so much time that there was little or no time left to look around the port on our own. For that reason, here’s another tip: most excursions meet in the ship theatre using a ticket system. Once you get your ticket, you meet your group out on the pier. If your excursion is a couple hours after the ship docks, you don’t have to wait around for your tour. You can go out - check out the port area - and come back for your excursion. Twice we missed an opportunity to see a port because we thought we’d have time afterwards but the shops were closed when we got back. We should have gone out before our excursion.
We took excursions in Guatemala and Honduras that involved long bus rides through poverty stricken areas. I felt sad seeing all that - such that I wished I was there on a mission trip rather than as a tourist. There’s nothing anybody can do about that but something to keep in mind if seeing all that on a vacation would bother you.
Book your specialty restaurant reservations early - the prime times around 7 pm go fast. The Compass Rose serves excellent food if you don’t get all the specialty reservations you want, though. No worries - you won’t have mediocre food anywhere on that ship. Remember that room service is 24/7 and they do a great job. If you want to book spa services (especially on Days at Sea) do that early too.
Something else to keep in mind, the medical office has very limited services. We had an accident on one of the excursions causing large bruising and scrapes but we had to see the security officer first to determine if we were truly on a ship-sponsored excursion before they would take care of us. They didn’t do any of the wound care - they just gave us supplies to do it ourselves. For a variety of reasons, passengers are safer all-around if they stick with ship-sponsored excursions.
As always when traveling, you have to really keep your wits about you. On our Regent cruise that stopped in Venice, I had my phone stolen by the port screening person as it went through the X-ray machine. I didn’t notice right away but went back in less than a minute and I got no cooperation from anyone to help me get it back. It was very upsetting. Stay at the screening place until you confirm all of your belongings are there.
On the European cruises, the speaker was Terry Bishop. He’s unbelievable. He mixed knowledge, humor, and music perfectly. We looked forward to the lectures every day. The speaker series on the Caribbean cruise was terrible, though. For some reason, the cruise line decided to go political and had a speaker who discussed one side of US politics. That was very disappointing.
As with all cruise lines - the daily activities sheet is important to check. There’s a LOT going on around the ship each day and it’s easy to miss out on something if you don’t check out the schedule of daily events. Their small-group bands, theatre shows, comedians, etc are all good. One night there was a party on the pool deck with the buffet & dancing under the stars that was really tremendous.
Overall - this is a 5 star, sophisticated cruise line providing cultural experiences and good fun.
You do get to go fast and it's exciting and fun but it takes a long time to get everyone together, instructed, and then geared up. On the water with boat and snorkel for only about one hour. Otherwise, it was terrificView All 26 Jet Boat Tour Reviews
Took a long time to load the bus, it left 1/2 late, it goes through poverty-stricken areas to Tabayana Beach (which is a sad ride to see all that), the beach is nice, the snorkeling is very good, the service there is good, but it IS Honduras and not a really refined resort area. It left a little early and left us little time in the port but all in all we liked it.View All 460 Beach Reviews
We took the Rio Dulce excursion which is a 40 minute boat ride to the mainland (we liked the ride but it's nothing fancy), then a one hour bus ride through Guatemala (past the poverty areas again). It does show you the countryside of Guatemala (sad) but I wanted to be there on a mission than as a tourist after seeing all that. The destination port to take a small (crowded) boat over to the castle was fun but the boat is quite low to the dock and we saw several older people fall as they tried to disembark. At 60 years old, I had no problem but handicapped people need a lot of help getting in and out of this boat. Then it's a little bit of a walk uphill and several older people couldn't make it. The castle is worth seeing and the surroundings are beautiful. The lunch was authentic and the vendors there were not pushy and we enjoyed our time there a lot. Then it's a long haul back to take the small boat to small port, bus to big port, big boat back to cruise ship. It's long and hot - we were glad we did it but be aware of these conditions.
We took a river tubing experience in a "jungle" but it was not really in a jungle that we expected, there were very few wildlife (we saw 3 iguanas - which were big indeed, one pink-legged bird, and a few other unexciting birds). The floating goes about 1 mile, takes about an hour, and the guide does their best to explain the area but I would recommend something else in that port. The bus ride was long and the experience a bit boring.
This ATV experience is really for experienced ATV riders even though they say beginners can go. The trail is REALLY rocky and bumpy and it's so dusty that even without a lung condition and using a handkerchief over my face, I had a lot of coughing etc. For guys & gals who want to experience the REAL DEAL - this is it. They do give you safety guidelines, helmets, & insect repellent. The young men who are guides are friendly and funny. I enjoyed it but felt I was pushing the envelope with regard to my skills. I am a beginner ATV rider with minimal experience but I am fit and adventurous. I'd do it again but I would be better prepared mentally knowing that it's quite challenging.View All 64 ATV Adventure Reviews
This private, exclusive day resort offers you private time with your companion in an elegant setting. We paid an extra $170/person but I think that was over-priced for us. Yes, it's an all-you-can-drink fare but we just aren't drinkers. We also wanted to just lounge privately on the beach so we didn't take advantage of the snorkeling that was available or walk the private beach either. If you want a day with only a few people around to utilize the facilities and drink up - this is for you. We also had an issue where it took over an hour from the time the excursion was to start and it ended up only being just over 3 hours long - which seemed pretty short for the extra $340 we paid. If you look on line, The White House website is VERY accurate. It's every bit as good as it looks. The food was excellent, the service was excellent. I guess it's whatever you are looking for.View All undefined undefined Reviews
There's so much to do here....this is just a great port. 5 stars says it all. Look up ahead of time what you are in the mood for because there's a LOT. The BEST burger in all of key west is at Fisherman's Cafe near the water....it's a hole-in-the wall, no seats inside - but we are burger experts and theirs is the BEST. Beats Margaritaville by 10 times. They also have GREAT daily fresh fish. Across the street from Sloppy Joe's is a nice easy bar that usually has one guy playing guitar....great relaxing spot.