We booked this cruise very late due to domestic circumstances and got a good deal as a consequence. The down side however was the available business class flights were limited. Our agent booked our outbound flight to Lima via Miami with a 2 hour 5 mins connection time and we thought this would be OK. Then we discovered that we would have to go through US immigration and possibly even collect our bags and go through customs. We asked BA in the UK and American Airlines who both confirmed this so I researched airport maps to ensure we didn’t get lost in Miami airport.
We managed to check our bags all the way through at Heathrow and got a second set of boarding passes for the next flight to save having to go to the desk in Miami. Fortunately these boarding passes were marked with TSA Precheck.
TSA is essential for a connection in the USA or there is no chance of making it in under 3.5hrs as the general queue for security was enormous. The TSA queue wasn’t small either. The flight into Miami was 30 mins early which saved us.
In the end we didn’t need to collect bags or go through customs but did need to go through immigration and security. In the baggage hall we were directed back out land side without going through customs and then headed for the relevant TSA security area.
After our overnight stay in the airport hotel in Lima (which was ok for one night with a great location and good breakfast) the taxi dropped us off at the Pier gate where we had to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to the ship. The taxi driver stressed where he would drop us was safe which worried us slightly. Some others for the ship arrived at the same place but we were literally dropped on the footpath. There were no facilities not even seats or a shelter. One woman who was ill had to sit in a car belonging to a baggage helper. Fortunately, there were around 8 armed police on hand to look after us but not an ideal boarding situation. A coach eventually arrived and took us to ship where they had a van with an X-ray machine in the back to check the luggage. Quite shambolic. Easily the worst port we have ever boarded a ship.
Our cat F suite was nice and although smaller than some other ships we have been on was OK. It was certainly tight for storage space for a 3 week cruise where both warm and cold weather clothing had to be packed. The bathroom let it down somewhat as it is small and dated with a yellow/orange marble finish. Our suite had a bathtub but it is really only ¾ size. We had cracked wall tiles and a degrading mirror and a shower curtain looked to have replaced the original screen. The air-con in the cabin was very variable and in warmer areas couldn’t cool the room sufficiently.
There were problems with toilets on our deck several times. Our bathroom was flooded when we returned from breakfast one morning as the clean water kept running in but our stewardess was already on it and had the engineer on the job. A cabin 3 doors up was not so lucky and the occupants had to be relocated and a de-humidifier ran inside and outside the cabin for several days.
Our bathroom vents were not working so the bathroom became very hot and steamy. We asked the stewardess to report this for us and when we came back from a tour the vent tops were lying on the floor and in the bath. We had to chase them up to get the job completed. Why do half a job when they were back in use in about 15 mins when the technician arrived?
I do wish the CEO had spent more money on the bottom end cabins and less on art works. My granddaughter who is almost 2 years old could produce some paintings for a fraction of the cost. The horizon lounge also looks a bit tatty especially the seats. I don’t think it has had any work done on it during the refurbishments.
The food was generally good with lots of choice. One exception to this was the vegetables at dinner time. It seemed impossible to have good quality vegetables at dinner (especially green vegetables) that hadn’t been overcooked or looked as though they should have been discarded. At lunchtime they seemed to be OK on the buffet. Brussel sprouts, green beans, asparagus .. Forget it!! We never saw the chef in the restaurant to complain. The pancakes and waffles were also poor. They had little taste and were quite doughy so we gave up after a couple of tries.
The staff were great as usual and many got to know us by name quickly. Strangely we hardly recognised any of the staff from previous cruises. Special mention to our cabin Stewardess Geraldine who was great. A few could have done with a bit more training. One bar waitress said they had run out of brandy glasses so brought a cognac in a plain glass and tipped into my old glass at the table! Scraping left over food off plates onto one plate at the table isn’t the best either.
The officers did speak in passing but made no great effort to hold a conversation. I think we saw the captain possibly 4 times and his second in command twice. We saw the general manager more often but mainly on the stairs!
It took us a few days to find some complementary wine which we liked, particularly white. Villa Maria (NZ Sauvignon Blanc) was available on boarding but not at dinner or lunch next day. It was restocked on day 8. We did find some nice Malbec and Bordeaux.
The laundry lost some of our socks so we resorted to hand washing them as we couldn’t afford to lose any more. They sent us two pairs of socks they thought were ours next day but they weren’t so someone else lost socks as well. They also managed to shrink some of my T shirts so beware.
You can’t take food ashore in Chile so think about the length of your excursions. You have to complete a customs declaration and carry it with you and your bags are x-rayed and searched and they use sniffer dogs.
Most ports we visited on this cruise are commercial ports so you need to take a shuttle bus to the port gate. Some ports allowed tour buses to the ship and others mainly in Chile did not. Punte Del Este took the prize for the longest tender at 20 mins. Watch out for excursion time changes in the passages at night. Yes, I know most people don’t read them after a long day and a good evening in the restaurant and bar but you may miss your excursion or worse. E.g. we were supposed to leave Punta Del Este at 22.00 but that was changed to tenders at 17.30 and departure at 18.00
The Vero Water bottles in the room are glass so really heavy when full and almost impossible to pour without spillage. Single use water bottles were still available when going ashore.
On several occasions (especially cold and windy sea days) La Veranda was so overcrowded they had to bring the tables in from outside and set them down the corridor. Not a pleasant place to sit with all the passenger and crew traffic passing by. This was surprising as we were told that there were only 600 passengers on board.
The Glenfiddich supplied in the cabin and in the bar is a cheap version (like Seabourn) and not like you have tasted before. It says single malt on the bottle but tastes like a blended whisky and needs a mixer. The store ran out of this too after 2 weeks so it was replaced by a bottle of Glenmorange which was also in an unusual bottle? This was slightly better but again not the usual stuff I would buy in the UK.
The Guest lecturer gave a good commentary and lectures highlighting the points of interest on our cruise. We missed the live commentary on the sail through a fiord in the observation lounge one day as we were late entering the fiord and trivia was taking place!! Obviously, we have different priorities to some of the passengers and the cruise Director?
We were disappointed we couldn’t go ashore in Stanley. We arrived around 06.00 and waited for about an hour then set off around 07.00. The captain didn’t even hang about to see if the weather would improve. Presumably he based his decision on the weather forecast but we all know weather forecasts can be wrong and often are. Most people would have settled for a short trip ashore later in the day if it became possible but the captain didn’t even give it a chance. Interestingly when we missed a port with Seabourn due to the weather we received a credit for unused port charges in our onboard account but Regent don’t seem to do this?
Just a note to reception. The sticky labels you apply to our passports are difficult to remove and leave a sticky residue. Most airports have now been persuaded not to stick baggage labels on passports anymore and stick them to boarding passes. Maybe you need a better system or label?
At a guess the average age of passengers on this cruise was mid 70s possibly because of the itinerary. This changed the feel of the cruise somewhat. Look out for the high speed mobility scooters too.
This was our 7th cruise on Regent and our 4th on Mariner but somehow the overall sparkle was missing. Is it because the best staff have been moved to Explorer or in readiness for Splendour? There was no galley tour possibly because 4 cases of upset stomach had been reported and we had a code red level 1 for a time. This seemed to be swiftly dealt with however with extra cleaning and an emphasis on hand washing. Some people still walked into the restaurant without using the sanitiser and this could have been tightened up. There was no bridge visit. The dress code was largely ignored. We only once saw someone wearing jeans in the bar being asked to go and change. I decided not to take my DJ this trip mainly because we had to take warm clothes and I am glad I didn’t. Next trip I will probably shed my suit and ties too.
There was a lack of entertainment for the 4 days at sea we had following our unsuccessful trip to the Falkland Islands. The Assistant cruise director did an extra show the day we should have docked at Stanley which was good but nothing else was laid on. We seemed to rely on trivia and games with the entertainment team which is not to everyone’s taste.
So, would I cruise with Regent again – probably as I think the food is better and I like the included excursions. Would I sail on Mariner again – probably but only for shorter cruises in warmer climates. As usual itinerary and price will dictate the cruise.