Husband, son and I have been cruising for over 25 years. Ages are 63, 56 and 23. It is our favorite vacation thing to do. Started on Carnival (actually met my husband on the old Celebration) and moved on up from there. About eight years ago, we tried Celebrity and that was that. It became our favorite cruise line. So other than the occasional inexpensive three or four day trip to the Bahamas on Carnival or Royal Caribbean (we live in FL, so it's easy for us to just jump on), we stick to Celebrity.
But this year, we decided to step up to one of the luxury lines and went with Regent Voyager Barcelona to Athens. We are going on Celebrity Edge this winter and considered it for this cruise, but when we added on the business air that came included with Regent, the prices were pretty much the same.
So I'll just cut to the conclusion and if you want details, keep reading further. Regent is just lovely and we had a nice time, but it's back to Celebrity for us, unless we got some sort of insane deal on Regent. Very soon, Regent is going to have to figure out how to cater to a younger, more dynamic, well-heeled passenger, as their very elderly passenger base is not going to be around much longer.
So here's our breakdown:
Room- Regent wins. We were in 867, which is a Penthouse Suite B. It is very comparable to a Sky Suite on Celebrity, which is what we usually book. We loved it. Big walk in closet. Curtain that separates living room from bedroom at night (helpful if you have a third passenger, as we did). Bathroom had separate shower and bath. Great towels and toiletries. Tip: If you do have a passenger sleeping on the pull out couch, ask for a mattress reinforcer. Made a big difference. As others have noted, the balcony furniture is a little too big for the space.
Food- For the MDR, Regent wins going away. Really good food. For pool grille, best hamburgers goes to Celebrity, ambiance goes to Regent. Buffet food was a tie, although Regent had less of a cattle call feel. Specialty restaurants food were a tie. In factoring cost effectiveness, we have to pay for specialty restaurants on Celebrity, but they are included with Regent. Regent does enforce the no jeans dress code in the dining room in the evening, which is pretty silly in this day and age. A man in a nice fitting pair of dark wash jeans with a collared shirt is a much better look than some of the stuff that we saw that technically fits the dress code.
Drinks-Regent. However, we pretty much only drink wine and champagne, with an occasional martini or cosmo thrown in. The daily wines were perfectly acceptable and flowed freely. We did not feel pressure to buy more expensive bottles. All the bartenders we met were pleasant. No ubiquitous surly Jamaican bartender at the pool bar. And none of that annoying standing in line and having to produce your card. You ask for a drink, you get it. Lovely.
Casino- Celebrity. At least on our sailing, the casino was dead, dead, dead. There were many times we were the only people in there. We are gamblers so we usually get offered significant discounts on future cruises after the pit boss sees our level of play. Regent offered us $1000 off any future sailings. Whoopee.
Clientele- Regent. Everyone was super friendly and well traveled. Of course, this was a much smaller ship size. There is a significant 80+ clientele. The bulk of them were impressively active and friendly, but the experience and amenities they are looking for were quite different from ours. (Clientele can vary wildly sailing to sailing and I might be a little bitter about our last two on Celebrity. They were spring break cruises and Costco travel had sold the bulk of the reservations to a certain demographic that I won't specify.)
Officer Visibility-Regent. I have never seen and met so many officers and been on a first name basis with them. Very impressive.
Entertainment- For in house talent, Regent. For specialty acts, Celebrity.
Pool- Chairs and amenities, Regent. Music, Celebrity. The piped in music at the Voyager pool was just excruciating. One more instrumental round of "The Girl from Impanema" anyone? Come on. They call it yacht rock for a reason. Please play it. Or reggae, mellow rock, current pop. Anything but what they played. Again, the elderly clientele seemed to like it.
Shore excursions - tie. Shore excursions on both are such a crap shoot, whether you pay for them or they are included. We are reaching the point where we just want to book from outside companies.
Internet-Celebrity. Regents was HORRIBLE. And we paid $100 for the upgrade! A deal breaker for us. My husband still has to work when he's on vacation and my son, well, he's 23. We gotta have decent internet.
Service- ever so slight edge to Regent. We have had outstanding butlers and we have had indifferent butlers. There just doesn't seem to be any set standard on either ship. So our Regent butler was one of the indifferent ones. But everyone else was really good.
Laundry-Regent. There is a passenger laundry room on every floor. While it's not particularly high end to do your own laundry on a cruise, it's certainly better than paying those insanely high fees.
Cost-Celebrity. Except for the Edge, which is on a par with Regent.