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538 Regent Seven Seas Cruise Reviews

This was our second Regent cruise, the first being to Alaska last year. Our cruise was from Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden, via Visby, Tallin Estonia and St Petersburg, Russia. Regent delivered everything as promised. The ... Read More
This was our second Regent cruise, the first being to Alaska last year. Our cruise was from Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden, via Visby, Tallin Estonia and St Petersburg, Russia. Regent delivered everything as promised. The travel agent booked everything through Regent including all travel and pre and post cruise layovers. At first glance the routing from Toronto to Copenhagen, via Washington DC looked a tad wobbly but upon further scrutiny, it proved to be the most direct route. We were met at the airport by a friendly and helpful Regent agent and from then on, never had a second though about travel arrangements, connections etc. The Hotel in Copenhagen was the D'Angeleterre, a delightful classic venue in the heart of the city. It was pouring rain of monsoon proportions when we landed and we were fortunate to get a room immediately. After a nap, we awoke to a semblance of sunshine , went for a stroll, dined at the hotel and visited Tivolli Gardens in the evening. Tivolli was a treat. It was packed with people of all ages, eating walking and listening to music. We boarded the Voyageur around 4pm on Saturday, Aug. 12, after a pre-booked motor coach tour of the area surrounding Copenhagen and a quick visit to view the Little Mermaid. Unfortunately, our late arrival meant that we missed the welcoming glass of champagne and the Embarkation Photo. This was no big deal as a chilled bottle of champagne and two glasses awaited us in our stateroom. The stateroom is as described everywhere. It has more than enough room and in fact gives you the sense of having far more space then most conventional hotel rooms. If you have ever stayed at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort, then I'm willing to bet that a Regent stateroom has as much usable space. The bath tub and separate shower was a nice treat. Dining Regent spends a lot of money hyping their Cordon Bleu restaurant, Signatures. On this cruise, Signatures did not live up to the advance billing. It was merely, the Compass Rose restaurant dressed up with a different name. (I'm sure we just blundered in on an off night as previously on the Seven Seas Mariner in Alaska, Signatures was everything it was advertised. On this trip, the service was indifferent, and the food wasn't anything better than the fare in Compass Rose. However, Latitudes Restaurant excelled! It was everything that Signatures should have been and more. The service was spectacular, efficient and attentive. The meal was divine. Room Service dining was pathetic. Twice I ordered breakfast and twice it arrive cold and wrong. Its not like it was complicated either. Two toasted BLT's which arrived untoasted and cold, with lukewarm tea to boot. Oh well, a quick trip to La Veranda and everything was right with the world. Excursions Visby- We arrive on the last day of the annual Medieval Festival. The locals paraded in period costumes, played games etc. Unfortunately, we had booked a coastal hike- which ended up being a walk in a cow pasture. It was all right, but it didn't leave much time to explore the town. Tallin: Walking Tour and Concert 31/2 hours This was a great tour mainly because our guide was knowledgeable and entertaining. St. Petersburg Russia Day Pushkin and Pavlovsk This was a spectacular tour as the palaces were mind boggling in their opulence and our guide was very knowledgeable and efficient. Her experience enabled our group to by-pass the hordes of other tour groups and land second in line. This was important as their were 5 cruise ships in port in St. Petersburg and everyone wanted to see the same sights. Peterhoff Palace- another spectacular sight, well worth the trip Hermitage and Gold Rooms-The Hermitage lives up to its billing but due to the tremendous crowds during the day, the better trip (as advised by fellow passengers) was the private tour of the Hermitage and Ballet performance. Another thing to note when booking tours is that Regent keeps your group numbers to a manageable 14-18 while from my observations other lines had large (30+ groups) After everything is said and done, Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines delivers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
If there ever was a couple more reluctant to take a cruise, it was us. My first and only cruise was a disastrous cruise on NCL, which was so awful that I swore I would never cruise again! My husband, who has never cruised, was frightened ... Read More
If there ever was a couple more reluctant to take a cruise, it was us. My first and only cruise was a disastrous cruise on NCL, which was so awful that I swore I would never cruise again! My husband, who has never cruised, was frightened off by the many stories of seasickness, crowded ships, crowded tour buses and the all you can eat buffet mentality. So, to find us on a cruise was a miracle in itself! Needless to say, in a weak moment, we decided to book a cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager. The high ratings it received from several Travel Magazines, plus the seven-night itinerary (Athens to Rome), appealed to us. Armed with our seasick bands and a high level of anxiety, we headed off to the airport. We flew to Athens via JFK on Olympic Airlines. Despite some ugly reviews of Olympic, we had a very good experience with this airline! New plane, comfortable seats and fairly friendly crew. We arrived in Athens around 11 AM on Saturday morning and headed to the port. Since we had some time to kill before boarding the ship, we had our driver take us on a quick tour of Athens. We arrived at the port (Piraeus) at 2PM and were immediately greeted by a Regent Representative who walked us through the gate directly onto the ship. Not a line in sight. On board the ship, we were warmly welcomed by Dana and Jamie Logan, the ship's Cruise Directors. We were immediately offered a glass of champagne and spent the next few minutes checking into the ship. Again, no lines and a speedy check in! Since we embarked earlier than the suggested time, our cabin wasn't quite ready, so we were encouraged to tour the ship and/or enjoy lunch at La Veranda on Deck 11. Served buffet style (uh oh), the lunch was fairly good, but limited in offerings. While lunching, we did notice some ship vibration as we sat at our table. Turns out this is a minor problem, but fortunately, this did not impact us at all during the rest of our trip. The service was exceptional and everyone was warm and welcoming. Right after lunch, we were able to go to our cabin. It was much nicer than we anticipated. The walk-in closet was very roomy, the bathroom with its separate shower and bathtub exceeded our expectations and the balcony promised many wonderful views. On top of this, we were greeted with a bottle of champagne and a chocolate cake compliments of the Captain in celebration of our anniversary. Nice touch! We were also introduced to our stewardesses Therese and Lena who were responsible for making up our rooms and answering general housekeeping questions we might have throughout the cruise. They were wonderful throughout the cruise! Never once, did they not greet us with a Good morning/Good afternoon greeting and smile! In fact, I left my Blackberry charger at home and not only did they find a charger for me, but they charged my Blackberry for me while we were at dinner!!! Now that's service above and beyond! At 6:00 PM, we set sail for Santorini, Greece. This was to be the first of many evenings where we would sit on our balcony, wine glass in hand watching one beautiful sunset after another. With each sunset, our anxiety over cruising was fading fast. In addition to our early evening balcony ritual, we also grew to love awakening in the morning to find ourselves at yet another beautiful port waiting for us to explore. In fact, our first morning at see found us docked off the coast of Santorini, Greece. The views were gorgeous and we couldn't wait to explore the island. We spent the early part of the morning on a shore excursion to Fira, which was just enough for us to get a taste and feel of Santorini  we spent some time in town and then headed back to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the Mediterranean sun at the ship's pool. The pool deck was a bit of a disappointment as it seemed sparse, but certainly not a showstopper for us. Day 2 found us in Kusadasi, Turkey. This was to be my husband's favorite port  mainly because of our tour to Ephesus. Don't miss this tour, we're still raving about it! One could almost imagine themselves back in ancient Roman Times. Our guide, Mustapha was an incredible story teller and had all of us (if for the moment) back in 292BC! The only downer for this port was the extremely aggressive shopkeepers, who practically dragged you into their stores. This was a turnoff and we headed back to the ship for our afternoon siesta and sun. Note of interest, if you are looking for good knock off designer bags and leather goods, this is the place to get them. Day 3 in Rhodes was another gorgeous, sunny day. We took the old and new Rhodes City Tour, which ended at a local winery where we sampled several local Turkish Wines. Our tour guide, Dora, was wonderful and was not put off by our fading interest in the Rhodes museums  in fact, several of us waited outside the museum in the warm sun as we had overdosed on the site seeing activities. The local shopping area was quaint and the shopkeepers a lot more sedate than in Turkey. The Day at Sea was well received by us as we needed to just chill out and relax. We spent the morning in the gym (very small with limited workout equipment, but just enough equipment to get a decent workout) and the afternoon at the pool. If you plan to go to the pool on the Day at Sea, get there early. We couldn't find any chairs on the main deck and ended up on the top deck, where it was a bit windy. I planned on going to the Art Auction that day, but it was cancelled due to lack of interest& Instead, we went to the Olive Oil Tasting Seminar, which was quite informative and tasty! We were also in for a fun treat when Jamie Logan, the Cruise Director, water skied off the back of the ship. That was a lot of fun for all of us and was one of the many special events that made this trip so wonderful. By the way, Jamie and his wife Dana were a real delight. They were warm, friendly and very engaging. In fact, each night Jamie was televised talking about the next day's events. We looked forward to this nightly ritual as we planned our next day's events. As to how wonderful Jamie was, my husband was so disappointed that he missed the group tour of the bridge (somehow we missed the Captain's announcement) and the next day, Jamie treated my husband to a private tour of the bridge. My husband was a kid in a candy store on that tour. Thanks Jamie! Surprisingly and against our pre-conceived notion about shipboard buffets, the lunch buffet at the pool was exceptional! Fresh fish, meats, cheeses, etc.  it put a whole new meaning to the all you can eat buffets on a cruise. It was tastefully done and very relaxed. On our third night at sea, we ate dinner at Latitudes (Asian Fusion). This was the first night that we sat with a group of people, which turned out to be a lot of fun. In fact, we closed the restaurant!!! The food was okay, not fabulous, although the lamb was scrumptious! The service was excellent, which is something we found throughout all of the restaurants. The wait staff was always looking to please us and this made for many pleasurable meals. Our dinner in Signatures (Cordon Bleu Restaurant) was just okay, too, although the Mushroom Soup was incredible as were the desserts -- yum! As to judging restaurants, we are a bit spoiled as we live in the Philadelphia area, which is home to Le Bec Fin, Striped Bass and other highly rated restaurants! One of our favorite on board restaurants was actually Compass Rose. The food was exceptional as was the service and ambiance. In fact, we thought this was the best restaurant of all. The salt bread was my downfall AND I'm not even a bread eater! Dessert was my husband's downfall  he's still talking about the Tartuffe Bianco dessert. If he could have had that dessert every night, he would have foregone dinner! Needless to say, we threatened to join Overeater's Anonymous once we landed back on home turf! This review would not be complete without mentioning the Captain of the Ship, Dag Dvergastein or as he called himself, Our Driver. He was so personable (quick with a smile and a hello) and so full of good humor that you couldn't help but smile whenever he broadcast over the ship or happened to be in your company. Our last night of the cruise, he treated all of us to a very special farewell cocktail party along the Isle of Capri. On one end of the ship was a gorgeous sunset and on the other end of the ship was the moon over the hills of Capri. It was a magical and wonderful ending to a fabulous cruise. Needless to say, we are now cruise converts thanks to our experience on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager. In fact, we are now planning our next cruise (on Regent of course!) same time, next year! BON VOYAGE! Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
"The Cruise of a Lifetime! Tokyo to Hong Kong. We sailed on this magnificent ship from Tokyo - the Seven Seas Mariner was on a leg of a Grand Asian Cruise. Brochures cannot adequately describe this incredible adventure. The ... Read More
"The Cruise of a Lifetime! Tokyo to Hong Kong. We sailed on this magnificent ship from Tokyo - the Seven Seas Mariner was on a leg of a Grand Asian Cruise. Brochures cannot adequately describe this incredible adventure. The "Mariner" is a GREAT cruise ship - elegant, superbly staffed, and totally comfortable. This review should have been submitted months ago, but we had too many distractions and obligations before us. The problem with submitting such an incredibly great cruise is due to the diversity of great experiences. First, there is the cruise ship - a wonderful ship that deserves a separate evaluation. Secondly, the ports-of-call provided a lifetime of adventure - magnificent, superb, glorious, and just plain wonderful! So, where to start? I'll attempt to mix it all in - from beginning to end. We flew from SFO direct to Tokyo on a UAL 747 - much faster than we anticipated. We flew Business Class due to the length of the flight. We were treated royally - for a trans-Pacific flight it is wise to upgrade if possible. It took almost 11-hours, but very comfortable hours. It had been 54-years since I last saw Tokyo - about 75% of the people we saw there were not even alive when I departed Yokohama in 1952 in my army uniform. So, my return was quite dramatic for me - where have all the years gone? Tokyo has not changed much, although the buildingS are taller and more massive. The population is greater, and the transportation modes are greatly improved. My nostalgia is as great as ever. The massive airport at Narita was exciting to see. It's a good hour and one-half into Tokyo due to huge amounts of traffic. Our driver took the two of us in a large, new van - all to ourselves - to the Empress Hotel, a Frank Lloyd Wright landmark. This hotel was the headquarters for Gen. Douglas MacArthur when Japan was occupied by American forces in WW2. The Empress is totally grand! Regent Cruise Lines offers this hotel as a pre-cruise option - don't miss it! Wow! The experience was truly wonderful! We arranged for 2-private tours prior to our arrival in Tokyo. Our first tour took us by private car and a tour guide to the city of Kamakura, south of Tokyo by a couple of hours. Kamakura is the site where the largest Buddha is on display. I had visited Kamakura in 1952 and saw the giant Buddha in my army uniform. And, there Buddha was, once again, just as gigantic and peaceful as I had remembered in my youthful days. Truly, this was a thrill for both my wife and me. The tour guide took us inside the massive "body" of Buddha, along with many other tourists. If you visit Kamakura someday, make sure you take in this most impressive site. We had lunch at a farmhouse that had been brought to Kamakura from the hills of the surrounding area. We were introduced to a great Japanese-type soup, the name escapes me at the moment. But, we slurped the soup - our guide showed us how to politely "slurp" - lots of noise, and it was so, so tasty. It was quite interesting to watch our very demure and polite tour guide lady demonstrate the polite way to "slurp." Our return to Tokyo took us past the gigantic "exporting" cranes that line the Bay of Tokyo. Exports are the life-blood of Japan. Ships from all over the world can be see taking on their cargoes - it goes on for miles and miles of waterfront. Traffic is massive, but it moves. I attempted to find some of the landmarks I had known 54-years ago - but, nothing seemed familiar. Nevertheless, it was a very nostalgic experience for me. Our next-day tour of Tokyo was so memorable! Our guide took us to the Tokyo Tower, a massive "erector-set" type of structure that reaches almost into the stratosphere. Up we went on a speedy elevator to the mid-section. This is the highest elevation for tourists. Needless to say, this tour is an absolute "must" for any tourist desiring to see Tokyo from a lofty perch. Our next stop was the grounds of the Imperial Palace. The Japanese people really take care of their royalty. The massive grounds are indescribably beautiful! Our 2-days in Tokyo went by all too quickly. We hated to depart the Empress Hotel with all it's beauty and comforts. Don't ever miss staying there. The bathrooms are unbelievably GREAT!! Trust me - you have never been in such wonderful bathrooms in your life!! The Seven Seas Mariner was waiting for us somewhere in Tokyo Bay - perhaps mid-way between Tokyo and Yokohama. The last time I saw her was in San Francisco on her maiden voyage where my wife and I boarded her with our Travel Agent. I'll never forget her elegance and luxurious appointments. This was our first opportunity to go aboard for a most memorable cruise. I could feel the lump in my throat as we went aboard for a most memorable and warm greeting. She's as pretty and gracious as the first time we had lunch aboard her in San Francisco. Our Suite was wonderful - just as I had remembered her. A large marbled bathroom - lots of space for all we had packed, and a lovely balcony that would ensure a good vantage point at sea and in the ports we would visit. The brochures describe the elegance to the nth degree. She was neat and spanking clean! This is everything we had planned and bargained for - luxury beyond belief! Our first port-of-call was Hiroshima, Japan. On August 6th 1945 I totally recall reading the headlines of an A-bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. None of us quite understood the significance of such a weapon, but eventually we found out. Soon, another A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The result of all this was the ending of hostilities with Japan in WW2 In 2-sentences I can hardly describe the totality of these enormous events. Japan was set to defend her shores with all she could muster. The imminent allied invasion, no doubt, would have taken over a millions lives in U.S. military personnel - not counting the Japanese casualties. My high school buddies, including myself, were next up of the draftee list. We would have been directly involved in the invasion of Japan had the war not abruptly ended. Hiroshima was a place I entered with a great deal of apprehension. Truly, this was one huge event in my life that I had not anticipated. Every citizen should have the opportunity to visit Hiroshima to observe what "total devastation" truly is. For the most part Hiroshima is well back on it's feet, but the scars still remain - the feeling is somber, but it is reality. We sailed to Dalian, China. Our ship and elegant crew were marvelous. What a way to go!! The food, entertainment, and fellow passengers are absolutely wonderful! Our accommodations are absolutely superb! Dallian was quite a revelation for us. We had never seen the shores of China and our anticipation level was high. We had booked a tour that would take us to the apartment house of a retired couple. Our elegant bus and guides took us to some high rise apartment structures all grouped together. In groups of 8 we hiked up the 5-stories of the concrete buildings. Elevators were not to be found. The exteriors looked quite dingy, but when we entered the apartment of our waiting hosts it all changed. Yes, the apartments were small - a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and a small eating area. The retired couple were most gracious. Their apartment was spotless. We were introduced by our college-aged female guides - all of a sudden we were all friends, shaking hands and it felt like we had been old-time neighbors. It was a "happening." I asked "Poppa" if he had a grandson or granddaughter through our guide-interpreter. I presented him with a S.F. Giants baseball cap to pass it on to one of them. Lots of laughter and lots of shaking of hands, etc. It was such a wonderful, warm way for all of us from our country to meet, first-hand, actual citizens of this huge emerging nation, China. We sailed for Tientjin, a port just below Beijing. The grandeur of this cruise was about to unfold before our very eyes. A large contingent of buses met our ship at the port. We had about 700-passengers aboard, and every passenger was treated to a trip to Beijing. We were provided with rooms in 5-star hotels, a wonderful dinner at our assigned hotels, and a wonderful breakfast the next morning. After breakfast we were split into 2-groups - one group to visit the Forbidden City and the other group to visit the Great Wall of China. In the afternoon we switched. Can you imagine what we absorbed in tourism that day? Needless to say, it was totally grand. It was awesome! Words cannot describe it all adequately! That night we all were provided with elegant hotel dinners - oh, so grand! Our hotels were the best in Beijing. First class!! After breakfast the next morning one group returned to the ship in Tientjin. MInd you, all this entertainment, touring, dinners, et al was provided by Regent Cruise line - "on the house!' My wife and I had booked an excursion to Xian with about 250-other shipmates. The others returned to the ship and sailed on to Shanghai. Our group flew to Xian, the burial place of the thousands of Terracotta Soldiers, one of the most incredibly interesting archeological sites in the entire world. Buried circa 250-BC to "protect" the Emperor's tomb, they were uncovered accidentally in the late 1970's by farmers digging for a well. No matter where a tourist goes during their lifetime, Xian is a 'MUST" place to visit. My advice is to read a great deal about this place, because it is worth your while to "soak-up" the significance of all this place has to offer. Archeology truly comes to life just observing it all. I would have to rate this tour to Xian one of the most significant and memorable tours we have ever taken. The flight from Beijing in modern A-320 Air Bus craft was excellent - approx. one hour and a half. Our flight back to meet the Seven Seas Mariner in Shanghai was also about 1-1/2-hours in length. Our tour guides throughout this entire 3-day sojourn were absolutely magnificent. Never, ever, had we experienced such talented, gracious, and well-prepared tour guides. Regent Cruise Line has truly opened up China to us. I am still in awe over what they have accomplished for us as American tourists. Shanghai is truly spectacular! It's massive! Like Beijing, high-rise structures are worked on night and day, 7-days a week, 24-hours a day. Shanghai has constructed over 1500- high-rise buildings, all over 30-stories in the past 15-years. It is absolutely astounding to see it all rising out of relative obscurity. Traffic on the river is testimony alone to the huge, huge construction projects as barges ply the river, night and day, to and fro, delivering steel, cement, concrete, sand, gravel, rock, etc., etc. All materials used in constructing these massive buildings. I seriously doubt that humans have ever witnessed such a massive concentration of construction endeavor in the history of the world. It truly is something to behold! Regent Cruises met us at the airport and took us by bus to their grand hotel in the middle of Shanghai. We were greeted as though we were royalty. The hotel staff, all young college-aged, met us as the entryway and guided us into a huge reception area where they wined and dined us so elegantly! It was all "on the house." Wow!!! The young group of waiters were so gracious. They all wanted to talk to us in English - eager to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English. It truly was a great experience. How gracious and accommodating they all were! Reluctantly, we left this wonderful reception and boarded the bus to return to the Seven Seas Mariner awaiting our arrival at the dockside. Oh, how great it was to feel their warm reception as we ambled up the gangway! Back home again! Oh yes, we were a bit tuckered out from all the travel, and most of us "hit the hay" a bit early that evening. Cruising down the highly trafficked river the next day, heading for Hong Kong, was another fantastic experience. We zigged and we zagged past the hundreds of barges, small ships, large ships, sampans, et al. Here we were, floating by this massive build-up in Shanghai, aboard this most elegant cruise ship, pinching ourselves to make sure it wasn't all just a dream! We finally reached the sea and headed for Hong Kong. You can imagine the great conversations at the dinner table that evening as the Captain and crew put on an elegant formal dinner for all of us. Can it be true? Is it all a dream? If it was a dream we certainly were totally alert and thoroughly enjoying it all. We arrived in Hong Kong in the evening darkness. After dinner we went to view our port arrival in the upper, forward lounge. Yes, it was crowded. The lights of Hong Kong were all around us. What a thrilling sight! Outside, the air was warm and humid, so we remained in the lounge area to witness this incredibly beautiful arrival - millions of lights surrounded the harbor. My "Jack Daniels" and ice never tasted better. I cannot possibly adequately describe the thrill of arriving at this beautiful city aboard our elegant and proud ship. Hong Kong is all that they told us. Beautiful, very, very busy, and the cross-roads to Asia. Our suite at the Intercontinental, overlooking the river, was fantastic! With reluctance, we left our "lovely lady," the 7-Seas Mariner to take on the beauty of Hong Kong. You can be sure, we will definitely do a reprise aboard the Mariner - she truly is the "Shang-ri-la" of cruising! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
I am UK based so we did not need a hotel room in Rome prior to our cruise. We flew directly from Heathrow to Rome and were met and transferred efficiently to Civitavecchia arriving about 1230 hours. Even at this early time we were welcomed ... Read More
I am UK based so we did not need a hotel room in Rome prior to our cruise. We flew directly from Heathrow to Rome and were met and transferred efficiently to Civitavecchia arriving about 1230 hours. Even at this early time we were welcomed on board with champagne and smiles, went through the swift registration procedures and pointed towards the Pool Grill and the Veranda Restaurant where we could have lunch and while away a couple of hours until our suite was ready. We were called around 1430 hours, greeted at the lift and taken to our suite, a rear facing Horizon suite with a spacious balcony. The suite itself was bigger than on the sister ship, Mariner, with a larger marble bathroom with a bath and separate shower cubicle. An excellent walk in closet, which served if you wished as a small dressing room, large bed and a sofa, two armchairs, a table, in-room refrigerator large, screen TV and wall desk completed the furniture. Fresh fruit, flowers and a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket completed an impressive display. We were asked which spirits we required to stock the cold box with for the cruise ( a bottle each person) and told soft drinks would bw replenished each day or twice a day if necessary as was ice also. We had chosen the Western Med itinerary because of the ports, Livorno, the port for Florence, Portofino, St. Tropez, Marseilles, Sete, Monte Carlo and finally Nice. We chose not to join excursions which involved a lot of walking so at Livorno we went on a coach through the Tuscan countryside ending up at a small wine tasting auberge. In Portofino we joined a boat trip along the coast, in St. Tropez we toured the old town (we noticed Voyager's Chef buying fish and veg in the town). Marseilles we did on our own using the shuttle bus as our docking was quite a long way from the city. Sete was the only wet day and Regent laid on some extra activities on board though we did venture out between the showers. Monte Carlo was beautiful and a visit to the Royal Palace was a must. Finally we sailed in the evening the short (just over an hour) distance to Nice and were given the opportunity to go ashore but as we were disembarking next morning we chose to have a relaxing dinner on board. Now the dining facilities. There are 4 restaurants and all have open seat dining. We could eat when we wanted and with whom we chose. There were plenty of tables for two. The main restaurant is Compass Rose with an extensive menu from which you could mix and match and choose as many courses as your appetite could stand. An Italian based restaurant, Veranda, served buffet style appetizers and desserts, with hot mains brought by your waiter. There are two speciality outlets, Latitudes, serving Asian fare which we did not try as there were no vegetarian main courses and Signatures, a Cordon Bleu restaurant with very fine dining indeed. The food was of a very high standard, presented beautifully and complimented with good, well chosen and liberally served complimentary wines, with liqueurs or cognac to follow. Evening entertainment was provided by a troupe of singers and dancers but after the first night one of the leading singers hurt his shoulder and he was flown home. Their place on stage was taken by a concert pianist and a Lionel Richie type entertainer. There were several parties, a welcome, a Captain's Hello to regulars, a crew do and a farewell and free drink flowed at them all. Finally, the disembarkation procedure went smoothly and we were decanted at Nice airport in good time for our London bound flight home. I would not wish to close without mentioning the staff. As Regent are a no-tipping line, their smiles and concern for guests welfare struck us as really genuine. They made a big fuss and we felt we had made some really good friends. We look forward to the next time we can sail with Regent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
My husband and I sailed on the Voyager from Civitavecchia, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 4th. This was our second cruise on this ship this year (previously to the Baltic in June). It was also somewhat of a ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Voyager from Civitavecchia, Italy to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 4th. This was our second cruise on this ship this year (previously to the Baltic in June). It was also somewhat of a "President's cruise" since two Executive Vice Presidents from Regent and other staff were on board, which made it rather special. Prior to sailing we stayed for two nights at the Cavalieri Hilton Hotel in Rome. This is a lovely, five star hotel, somewhat outside the city centre, with a fantastic view of Rome. We had a reasonable (for Rome) rate and a lovely room, although not facing the city. The Concierge organized a limo transfer for us to the port, which is around an hour, or an hour and a half away. (depends on traffic!) We arrived at the dock about 1pm. We noticed that there were a lot of people sitting around, waiting to board, which is rather unusual for Regent. We were immediately informed that there had been a surprise drill around 10.30 which had put boarding back an hour. There were coffee and cold drinks available for us while we waited. Promptly at 1.30 we were invited to board. Registration took place in the Constellation theatre, and we were all checked in in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile we were offered a glass of sparkling wine (note: they call it champagne, but it isn't. It is CrEmant de la Loire!). We were able to get into our suite at 2.30pm and filled in the time by having a salad at la Veranda restaurant. When we got into our suite our four suitcases were there. Also waiting for us was a letter from Mark Conway, President of Regent, informing us that he was extending a complete liquor package to us on the cruise!! I suppose this was Regent's way of "sliding gracefully" into their new all-inclusive policy which takes effect in January, and we appreciated it very much! We had exactly the same suite as on the Baltic cruise - Penthouse B. It is very comfortable and a little bigger than the "ordinary" suites. In fact, it is only 14 square feet bigger, and we have decided that in future we will most likely just book a "normal" suite. The Penthouse suites come with a butler and in the past we have not seen any need for this extra service. I must say, however, that our butler on this cruise, Ronny, was quite simply terrific. Best butler ever, and charming as well. My husband was celebrating a birthday on the cruise and Ronny and our stewardess, Rosanna, decorated the suite as a surprise for us!! It was full of balloons on the day!! Since we had been on board quite recently we were delighted and pleased to see several people among the crew that we had got to know before - Bryan the Cruise Director and his lovely assistant Elda. Louise the Social Hostess and several waiters, including Jess a wine steward. They also seemed to remember us and we felt really part of the "family". I must also say here that our Captain, Knut Hanssen, was also the Captain that we had had on the Baltic. I thought at that time that he was rather remote and did not mix much with the passengers. However Elda told me that the Baltic cruises demand extra attention from the Captain and therefore he was really busy. On the November cruise Knut - or as he called himself "The driver" really mixed with everyone and we grew to like him enormously. I hope he will be our Captain on our next cruise!! For those who have never taken a Regent cruise I must say that one of the greatest things is the high quality of the cuisine and the terrific choice provided. This cruise was no exception. Even with the length of 16 nights we looked forward to every meal, and every meal was different. The choice of restaurants - Compass Rose, Latitudes, la Veranda and Signatures - and the choices they provide are terrific. We had two meals at Signatures on this cruise and they were among the best we have ever had anywhere! The new menu - Vietnamese fusion - at Latitudes is a real success. La Veranda as a mediterranean bistro provides an interesting contrast to the more "normal" offerings of the Compass Rose. The quality and range of offerings in the Compass Rose is amazing. So if you like to eat - this is the ship for you! We do, and I gained 2 kilos (which happily have now left me!) Our first port was Monaco. We docked early on the Sunday morning, right in the Marina at the foot of the castle hill. We were part of the Circle of Interest for Architecture and History and on our first evening the night before our leader, Sandra Bowern, had hosted a welcome party for the group (around 30 people). Our first tour as part of this programme was in Monaco, and was a bus ride to St Paul de Vence with a visit to the Fondation Maecht. Unfortunately the guide assigned to our bus had problems with her English, and was not a really good guide either. I found myself translating back into French to be able to understand what she was trying to say! So once we got to St Paul - where we had been before anyway - we told Sandra that we would go directly to the Fondation Maecht and meet the bus in time for departure. I was really pleased we did because this gave us almost two hours to see a really fine exhibition called "Black is a Colour" as well as to wander around the Miro sculpture garden and generally enjoy the Fondation. The following day we were in Sète. This is a small town at the edge of the Etang de Thau, an inland sea, and at the end of the Canal from the Rhone. We had signed up for a tour to Montpelier. We were lucky to have a wonderful guide. We had a walking tour of the centre of Montpelier, which is a very interesting city and then we were driven to a Chateau for a wine tasting. This was rather special since the Count who owned the property took us around the chateau before we tasted the wine. he was a delight! (and so were his wines!!) Our next port was Barcelona. Our Circle of Interest tour here was "Gothic Barcelona". The guide did an excellent job of laying the groundwork for our tour by taking us to the top of a hill and pointing out the various sites that we would visit. We were then dropped in the old town and she took us to various places with beautiful ruins - Roman columns, inside courtyards etc. We then visited the cathedral and walked to the Palu de Musica - the concert hall. This is definitely not Gothic! it is in the art nouveau style and well worth a visit. We saw a film on its conception and construction before touring the building. We then returned to the ship. As part of the "President's cruise" all Seven Seas Society members were invited to the Picasso Museum that evening for a private viewing and a champagne reception. Since almost all those on board were members, about 10 busses were needed to get us there! Very cleverly Regent planned separate entry times for us at the museum, and the absolutely wonderful guide that we had took us on a walking tour of the old town which included a visit to a church which had been specially lit for us that evening! He then took us through the Picasso Museum, lecturing on the paintings. I thought that I learnt more about Picasso on this trip than I had collectively in a life time! It was a wonderful evening which ended with champagne and canapEs. After Barcelona Palma de Mallorca, nice though it is, was rather a let-down. We did take a tour (not included in the Circle) and had a good guide, but after a couple of hours we decided to leave and go back to the ship. Regent provided a handy shuttle service between the pier and the old town and we appreciated this. Malaga was our next stop. There was no tour offered for the Circle but two other members that we had met suggested we go to the Picasso Museum, which we did. It was an easy walk from the port. This museum is a must-see because it houses paintings that belong to the Picasso family and these are not ones that you can usually see elsewhere. it is also a really nice, small museum. Our last stop in Spain was Cadiz. Here the Circle of Interest took us to Sevilla - about two hours away by bus. Again we had a superb guide who just made our day! She gave a very good talk in the bus about Sevilla and what we would see, history, architecture etc. In Sevilla we started at the Alcazar Real where we visited the building and the beautiful gardens. We then had a break for 20 minutes for a coffee or a little shopping before walking through the old town to the cathedral. She was able to guide us through the cathedral (not always the case because sometimes churches don't allow guides) and did an excellent job. We then went to a lovely riverside restaurant for lunch - and since this was at 2pm (typical Spanish lunchtime!) we were all hungry. Lunch was really good! After lunch the bus took us to the site of the 1924 (I think?) exhibition to see the Spanish Pavilion, then back to Cadiz and the ship. I should say something about the Circle of Interest, which is a new thing that Regent has added this year. You can opt to join it or not. Our Circle, on Architecture and History, was well thought out and our tours were extremely relevant. Our leader, Sandra Bowern, did a super job of providing an outline as to what we would see, and especially in tying things together. She also provided quality control - for example earlier this summer apparently everyone in the Circle was in one bus. This meant that 50 people went through all the sites together. Not ideal. Sandra got Regent to limit the busses to 15 or so people per bus. Each bus has its own guide so you visit in small groups. This is great. However we could, I suppose, have all been in one bus but with two guides... Sandra organized, as I mentioned, a welcome cocktail the very first night, and also a group dinner as well as a quiz. Consequently people in our Circle really bonded, and in fact after we had left Madeira a couple held a lovely cocktail for us all and we all got together again! I did suggest to Sandra, and on my comment form to Regent, that it would be a great idea to have a reading list so that people with a special interest could do some background work on what was to be seen. In talking to other passengers who were in other circles - Photography and Food/Wine - I got the distinct impression that while all of us really enjoyed ours and found the extra cost well worth while this was NOT the case with the others. Other leaders did little, apparently, to work with their groups and the people I talked with said they felt they did not get anything extra for the money they spent. I am sure that Regent will work on this, but all I can say is, if you have a chance to be with Sandra - take it!! Between Cadiz and Madeira we had a sea day. I love sea days and after a week of sightseeing it was really welcome!! Around 200 people left the ship in Madeira, and another 200 got on, so we were about 500 for the crossing. I had been to Madeira years ago and had some childhood memories of Funchal, mostly involving flowers and flowering trees which I had never seen before! I was a little shocked to see that Funchal now sprawls far across the mountain...but in 54 years it was bound to have grown! We took a tour called "Scenic Madeira". Unfortunately the guide was not great and I knew we were in trouble when she announced that we would drive to a "four star" hotel for coffee and cake. This is hardly "scenic Madeira"!! We were driven up into the mountains to a hotel with no view, where the coffee was awful and was served in dirty cups. Not great! However we then drove up to the top of a mountain (1800m) where the view was truly dramatic. The problem was that at the dock it was 25C and at the top of the mountain, 9C. I was dressed for the dock, so I froze!! Serves me right for not reading carefully about where we were going!! We then drove back to Funchal and went for a wine tasting. When I was 10 I remember going into a real wine cellar. This time it was a wine "lodge" where we were handed two glasses, one dry one sweet and left to get on with it ourselves. We then had some shopping time (not too useful since it was Sunday!) and went back to the ship. The crossing was a terrific experience. We were lucky - good weather most of the time and really only one day when the ship rolled a little. Most of the time it was warm enough to sit by the pool. We had some wonderful lecturers on board - one man talked about his work on the Carl Sagan programme on the stars and another on the oceans of the world and their exploration. Both were very good and very interesting. I participated in the Cordon Bleu course as well. I had been looking forward to this because I had taken the course on the Mariner in 2005. Unfortunately, the chef did some very similar recipes. However I did learn quite a bit of technique, which I appreciated. The course was somewhat marred by one of the participants who talked constantly, grabbed the best seat each time and generally was disliked by all. Justice was done, however, when his souffle fell flatter than a pancake!! If you haven't taken this course, and you like to cook, I strongly recommend it. You do need to know something about cooking though! One really great thing about the crossing was the "County Fair" that the crew put on in mid-ocean. Each department rigged up games booths around the pool and for an hour we played the crazy games they had devised and won tickets for a raffle for prizes! One of the games involved the galley crew on a raft in the middle of the pool and passengers hurling cake icing at them!! The whole thing was so crazy that everyone had a wonderful time!! What a crew!! Another very interesting thing was that "the driver" opened the Bridge every afternoon and you could go up there and talk to the officers who worked there. Great fun and very informative. All in all it was a wonderful cruise with the most terrific crew ... and I can't wait to get back on board again!! Anyone who hesitates about doing a trans-Atlantic crossing should be reassured that normally the souther route is quite warm and the seas kind (normally, but obviously not always), there is plenty to do on board and that if you really want to get to know the crew this is a great time to do it! All my husband and I can say is thank you Regent for the wonderful time we had!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was a New Year's 11-day roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, which is our favorite departure port. We have over a dozen cruises and are Celebrity Elite, but took this first Regency after some issues on our 14 day Infinity last January. ... Read More
This was a New Year's 11-day roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, which is our favorite departure port. We have over a dozen cruises and are Celebrity Elite, but took this first Regency after some issues on our 14 day Infinity last January. Came the night before for a Friday departure which is much calmer than the Sat or Sun busy days. Overnighted at the Hampton Inn north of the Airport our third stay there. Shuttle from hotel was very prompt, drivers picked us up at airport the night we got in and offered rides to nearby eateries if we wanted and then on Friday were very prompt in delivering us to the ship around 1:30pm. We were met at the shuttle door by Regent staff, and welcomed warmly. There were four check-in lines and we were checked in in five minutes and on the ship. We were offered Veuve Clicquot as we entered the ships lobby and directed to the pool deck to await the opening of our room at 3pm. Plenty of food and service and at 3 we were given our rooms as promised. Luggage was immediately delivered and by 3:30 we were unpacked. Suite 617: We traveled with 19 year old daughter and room was adequate for the three us us, but four would not work. Bathroom and walkin closet were big pluses. No problem storing clothes for 3 for 11 days. Suite for two would be very roomy with spare storage. Deck was nice sized and you could do breakfast outside, though we did not. There was a lot of spray on deck six, so if I do Navigator again, I would go with seven or eight to avoid it. Cherry was excellent in service and cleaning, no complaints. The team was a little stressed to get all rooms cleaned and it looks like they could add one or two more room attendants to make it easier, but we were very pleased. Food was excellent. Room Service as prompt, Buffets in Portifino were very good and service was excellent. Food at the pool was also good, with table service and several themed buffets. Barbeque and Mexican were big hits. The dining room, Compass Rose, was very good. Most meals equaled Specialty quality on Celebrity and only weaknesses noted were limited fish options. Beef, lamb, lobster and duck were very good. Franco and Simone run the Compass and were outstanding. The sitting is open, but we kept the same table and waiter for 9 nights, we think we benefited from extra attention because of this, but many people moved around. We did Portifino for dinner one night and it was a lot of fun. Food is as good as dining room but it is not a step up as in speciality restaurants in other lines. This is not a problem as all the food is good. We only did this one night late in the cruise and wished we had done it twice, because even though it is always Italian, the menu is changed each night. Several people went there three or more nights. Entertainment was good. No production shows, which I don't care for. Comic from Wales is very good. Ship orchestra was excellent. Singing group, a dance couple and other acts were good not great. Went to all but one show. Entertainers were around the ship and easy to approach and visit with. There were several lecturers and we attended a couple that were good. Sam the Cruise director, Mimi, David and Crystal were all over the ship and offered a good variety of activities. The casino is small and it can get hard to get to a table. Mini-craps was busy and some players never grasped that with only one dealer, you had to be considerate in betting. Overall the casino staff was friendly and competent. Regency advertises that they offer leisure and I felt that. Things to do and occupy me, but not a stressful day running from place to place. Took a couple of ships excursions, both were good, one on Tortola was an Island tour, very thorough and the other a tubing excursion on Dominica. It was great fun, though we were shorted on time at the Emerald Pool. We were late back to the ship, but they were waiting for us to take up the ramp. (Good reason for being on a ship tour). Prices were reasonable and we actually exchanged a pre-booked tour for a different alternative just two days before the port with no hassle. Grand Turk has nothing to offer but a nice beach day and a trip to Margaritaville, if you want to worship at the alter of Buffet. St. Barts is nice but pricey. Skip the expensive shops and bars downtown and take the 15 walk to Shell Beach. It is wonderful and has plenty of facilities right there. St. Martin, St.Thomas, San Juan and Nassau, were all busy and not much ever changes with them. Staff: If there is a big difference in cruise lines, it is with staff. I would start with the Captain, John McNeil. He was everywhere. If you did not see him three or four times a day and speak to him at least once, you must have been asleep in your cabin. I probably had a speaking relationship with over 20 staff and a nodding relationship with 40 more. No request was too minor, they looked for ways to serve you and even though they are not working for tips they could not have been more helpful. I especially enjoyed Oscar our primary waiter, Dan the Bar Manager, Meo at the pool bar, Pedro at the Star Lounge and Elvis and Allen in the dining room. I never felt any pressure for tips or for an excellent rating on an evaluation form. I did make a contribution to the Staff fund and received a nice thank you note before we left the ship. Debarkation is never good and the ship was 30 minutes late getting cleared. Still, the bags were in small groups, there were plenty of porters and cabs and we had no trouble making our 11am flight on Jet Blue. With 470 passengers instead of 2000 things like this should and do go easy. My impression of six star service is just that, service. Very much felt I got my money's worth. All inclusive started with this cruise and the crew liked it. Less paper work accelerated their service. Only minor confusion as to what was not included and what was. Staff we talked to said the lounges were much busier and the policy was getting the people out of their cabins and mingling. We have kept our June Alaska on Mercury in a Royal Suite to compare this experience. We booked a Western on Voyager for November which we may change to a spring Med. I expect to be back on Regency and think it may become our line of choice in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
The embarkation was very smooth. From the time we stepped out of our cab we received top level service. Our bags were removed from the cab and we did not see them again until they were delivered to our stateroom later that afternoon. The ... Read More
The embarkation was very smooth. From the time we stepped out of our cab we received top level service. Our bags were removed from the cab and we did not see them again until they were delivered to our stateroom later that afternoon. The stateroom was spacious and comfortable. We loved the walk in closet and the marble bath. The cabin decor was elegant. When we arrived lunch was being served in two places; by the pool and a buffet was available at Portofino. Deck 10 (Pool Deck) was crowded and as it was a New Years sailing there were more children then I am used to seeing on Regent. Our first few days at sea was quite a challenge as the ship rocked quite a bit. The RSSC does not appear to have the stabilization system that most modern ships have. As such I would not travel on this particular ship again. The activities were typical, the enrichment lectures were fair. There were children in the hot tubs during the day at sea but in the late afternoon the number of children by the pool diminished. My husband and I travel on luxury lines and compared to other ships we have sailed on we found the food good but not outstanding. My meat was always cooked the way I asked for it. The deserts were simple and not up to luxury line standards. In the early afternoons snacks were available by the pool and finger sandwiches were in the lounges. There was always an afternoon tea until 4:30. Dinner was served at 7:00. Between 5:00 - 7:00 if you wanted a snack you needed to order room service. We did several excursions and they were priced comparative to other cruise lines. The groups were small and the service was excellent. Throughout this cruise their were problems with the ship. The toilet in our cabin and nearby cabins did not work sporadically over several days and at times public toilets were locked while they worked on the system. When I called about this I was always told that the problem is being addressed but was not given any time line as to when the system was expected to be in working order. There was water leaking into the hallway by the Navigator Lounge. We were on the first all-inclusive cruise of the New Year. Drinks were plentiful. During the day time in the Seven Seas lounge during the enrichment lectures there was no one to take your drink order. Rather by the door way there was a table set up with cookies and sodas as well as bottled water. One could bring in a drink from the bar. At night their were cocktail waiters coming to take your order. Since RSSC started the all-inclusive liquor policy there was no automatic bar set-up in our room. Although if we wanted liquor in the room we could have asked for it. We were pleased that there was no charge for the washers and dryers nor was there charge for bottled water when leaving the ship to go on excursion. Overall I would rate the cruise as five star but definitely it was not a six star experience. The service on board was exceptional but the dining menu, the mediocrity of the entertainment as well as the enrichment lectures, coupled with the ship's maintenance problems detracted from the six star experience. In terms of value we sail often and in our opinion Oceania offers a luxury experience, better food, for a lower price. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
This cruise was on the Seven Seas Mariner that was from Ft. Lauderdale to Manaus, Brazil, between January 9. 2007 and January 21, 2007. The cruise experience was excellent and we will cruise with RSSC line again. In fact we are voting ... Read More
This cruise was on the Seven Seas Mariner that was from Ft. Lauderdale to Manaus, Brazil, between January 9. 2007 and January 21, 2007. The cruise experience was excellent and we will cruise with RSSC line again. In fact we are voting with our feet, or more specifically, our reef shoes and snorkel fins. We have booked on the Paul Gaugin from Tahiti to Fiji, departing Papeete on May 19, 2007. Our primary reason for booking this Cruise was to see the Amazon. Itinerary is our prime motivation in cruising. The food was excellent, service in all areas without compare. Guest lectures OK but would only merit a 6 or 7 on my 10 point scale. Our suite was more than adequate with a small walk in closet and sufficient storage space. We booked our own port tours but did buy a tour through the ship in Santarem. The trip was reasonably priced. From a boat we saw up close the confluence of the Rio Tapajos (black), and the Amazon (muddy Brown) rivers. On that same tour we were able to fish for Piranhas. A guest on our boat caught a Piranha. The crew cooked the fish and a taste was available. It tasted like fried fish. The ship provided an included tour to the Boi Bimba Folkloric Show in Parintins on the Amazon River. The costumes were very colorful. The dancers young and skillfully energetic. The music was too loud, too long, and too repetitious. I'm still glad I went. Although not an issue for us, the shower in the bath tub might be difficult for some passengers with mobility issues. (I understand that RSSC has plans to convert these bathtubs to showers in time.) I haven't had a bath in many years. This may explain our being able to get a table for two at every meal when requested. Understand, I shower occasionally, at least enough to prevent me from being forcibly disembarked early in the cruise. We arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport as scheduled and were met by representatives of RSSC in the Baggage claim area. Once, I found our luggage, a nicely dressed man with an RSSC badge took our luggage and took us to a waiting Lincoln Sedan and after loading our luggage he took the drivers seat and we departed the airport. Shortly after departing the airport, we realized we were heading South. Our travel info indicated we were booked at the Embassy Suites. When I expressed my concern, the driver stated he had been instructed to take us to the Biltmore. We found later that the Biltmore is a very upscale hotel in Coral Gardens and well South of Miami. We experienced very heavy traffic delays and when we arrived in the Coral Gardens area, the driver wandered down several residential dead end streets. At this time, some paranoia took over my mind in consideration of the very high crime rate in Miami that I was aware of. Are we about to be assaulted and robbed, or worse? In fact, I mentally inventoried a backpack containing a camera and binoculars and other items for something that could be used as a weapon. Having decided on a plan, I moved very close to my wife and whispered to her the plan. Finally, after two hours travel in the dark, we arrived safely at the Biltmore only to find we were not on the RSSC list to stay there. Pamela, a RSSC representative at the RSSC Concierge desk then took over. She offered us the choice of returning to Fort Lauderdale, or lodging overnight at the Biltmore. We elected the Biltmore, and were provided an excellent room, a voucher for dinner and breakfast, and a voucher for a transfer to Port Lauderdale. We had an excellent dinner and breakfast and the next morning boarded a bus to transfer to Port Lauderdale. We were assigned the last Bus, Number four. RSSC had booked those passengers that were traveling on all four segments of the cruise that would take them around Cape Horn and back to Port Lauderdale at the Biltmore. The extra benefits included a welcome dinner, a sumptuous breakfast, and of course, transfers. We arrived too late for the welcome dinner, hence the dinner voucher. RSSC more than made up for the initial glitch and turned a bad start into lemonade. My paranoia induced high blood is almost back to normal and I will be completely recovered when my pain and suffering lawsuit is satisfactorily settled. REALLY. Pamela's superior skills were to be demonstrated again. She boarded our bus #4 for the ride to the airport. When we were underway she announced that the embarkation would be delayed because of a surprise Coast Guard inspection. We were then driven on a tour of Coral Gables, Miami, including Little Havana, and South Beach. Pamela provided knowledgeable commentary. Even with the detour, we had to wait a considerable time before boarding the ship. Once on board, after being offered the obligatory glass of champagne, or some yellow liquid, we were told our Suite was ready. More about the service that was exemplary. We ate most breakfasts and lunches in La Veranda, the ship's buffet. A very favorite Lady, Vivien, who is from Chile, was apparently in charge of the Port side of the seating area. Although, my wife and I don't teeter or dodder or really need someone to carry a plate of food to the table, Vivien would usually remove my plate from my grasp. Even when I tried to avoid her attention by walking behind someone or something, she usually won or had dispatched one of her minions to intercept me. If I meet her again, I have some moves that will win this game. The buffet has two omelet stations. They make omelets or cook eggs to order. After you order eggs you provide them with your table number and the eggs are then delivered to your table. One morning a man sat down within good earshot of us, and then imperiously called a waiter to his table and proceeded to order his breakfast with detailed and explicit directions regarding food preparation. The waiter didn't even flinch and complied with the order. My reaction was "duhh, this is a cafeteria, if you want to be waited on, get your lazy self out of bed earlier and eat in the dining room or order room service." This comment will obviously be archived and result in RSSC not hiring me should I apply for employment as a waiter. I'm obviously not trainable. On another occasion, that was a sea day, the Port side of the buffet was quite full and we didn't see any empty tables. As we were leaving the Port side to check out the other side of the seating area, a man, of the same bent as the breakfast gourmet, described above, approached, the waiter and quite seriously demanded a table for two. We didn't linger to watch the result, but are certain his demand was graciously met. See my reaction in the above paragraph. We found a table for four on the Starboard side, occupied by a single man, who allowed us to join him. LIQUOR: One pre trip concern I had with regard to the free liquor available to all was that drunken passengers would abound. This did not happen. The worst that occurred was one table, about for tables removed from us, had a couple of "ladies?" whose volume control was set on increase. Fortunately, their food arrived and the noise stopped. This was a one time occurrence on a 12 day voyage. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was smooth and we loaded a bus that took us on a tour of Manaus, and then to a hotel for lunch. After lunch we were dropped at the airport. (We would have preferred an additional day in Manaus.) AIRPORT: I do not consider the following debacle to be the fault of RSSC, but will submit some thoughts later on how RSSC could prevent this experience. Almost everyone on Segment #1 was booked by RSSC on a charter to Miami. When we got to the airport, we were instructed to line up for security screening. Two B737-800 aircraft were chartered to return us to Miami. Everyone, including former Sen. (D-FL) Bob Graham, (one of the guest speakers) and his entourage, had to wait in line. The line took over 4 hours for all of us to get through Security. Standing in this line was a major problem for some physically challenged passengers. Brazilian Passengers on Brazilian Airline flights were processed expeditiously by the same security screeners and were whisked into the screening area ahead of the RSSC passengers on several occasions. When I went through Security, my back pack containing a camera, binoculars, and some first aid supplies, was emptied and searched. Our carryon was pawed through and a small pair of nail clippers, that routinely pass US Security, was confiscated. A tube of toothpaste that admittedly would not pass US security was confiscated. A much larger tube of shaving cream was overlooked. My gut reaction is that this was more about harassment than Security. Americans are not liked in much of world including Brazil. The inconsistencies above confirm this. RSSC could probably prevent this on next years Amazon cruise by sending a representative to consult with Airport Management. The Representative needs to be fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and knowledgeable of Brazilian culture. He should be ready to distribute some cash as appropriate. It wouldn't take too much. This is a way of life in many countries. If the thought of bribery offends corporate America, consider the bribes, (campaign contributions, free travel, girls, meals, greens fees, etc., etc.) that corporate America routinely provides our politicians. FINALLY: We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. We will most positively consider RSSC if they present an itinerary of interest. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
DW and I took the New's Year's Cruise out of FT Lauderdale on RSSC Voyager. It was all-inclusive for drinks and speciality restaurants. That in itself makes it worthwhile if you hate that tipping and signing little scraps of ... Read More
DW and I took the New's Year's Cruise out of FT Lauderdale on RSSC Voyager. It was all-inclusive for drinks and speciality restaurants. That in itself makes it worthwhile if you hate that tipping and signing little scraps of paper all day and night long. Embarkation was a breeze at FFL, 20 mins we were from the airport and onboard the ship. They porter takes your bag at the curb the next time you see them is in the room, REALLY NICE. One of my bags took a little longer to arrive than the rest (I'm a bit edgy about my luggage). Ask the DW! :>) But over all the embarkation was the fastest next to our trip cruise on Oceania out of Athens (besides the taxi ride to the port, we stayed in central Athens overnight, 10 mins on the ship) First impression(as well as 1st time on RSSC), immediately greeted by a crew member but they didn't offer us the champagne on embarkation, got the couple in front and behind us, but skipped us, didn't bother me much, but DW was ruffled slightly that they didn't even offer it to us. The Voyager is a nice ship, but since it had just been to dry dock, we heard and read on the boards that it was supposed to have carpeting, bedding (beds?) and some other appearance items changed out. I didn't see it, but the carpeting was clean and everything looked well maintained (still had the Christmas decorations in place). After a easy check-in onboard (stood in line about 15 minutes,other people were checking in, as well) at 12:15 PM, we were asked to go to any of the lounges or buffet on deck to have lunch. We had a light lunch and till we were finished and looked around for 30 minutes we were allowed to go to the room. The room was nice, about the size of mini-suite on Princess with a smallish verandah. Everything was clean and within 2 minutes of entering the room, we were greeted by our butler Ronny and Joanne, our room stewardess. They were both wonderful and deserved the extra tip we weren't supposed to give them! Storage in the room was more than than adequate for two overpacked cruisers. Entertainment, I can't say much other than the casino is on the small size but not to the point that it was overcrowded except on New Year's Eve, the party was is in the main promenade which consequently is where the casino happens to be located. It didn't take anything away from the gambling experience, especially after the champagne and caviar were passed out. And I do mean caviar (Osetra and Sevruga by the kilo tins) and cases of champagne, the kind that gives you a killer hangover in the morning or was that because I lost count of how many of them glasses they gave me! Anyway we had a great New Year's thanks to the efforts of the Captain, his staff, and the great crew members everywhere. As for the shows, we met most the show attendees in the casino within 15 to 20 minutes after most of the shows started. The comments we heard first and second hand indicated they may not be up to par with some other cruise lines. The cruise director was always out and about and trying to get folks involved in the multitude of activities constantly going on. The DW and I liked the Chef's demonstration but weren't into the rest of the revue-style shows so we sat and donated to the casino's party fund! Excursions were good at all but one stop but RSSC reimbursed us for half the cost for the excursion in Belize that wasn't so hot. We rode on an beat up old city bus with no suspension (it had a Texas DOT sticker in the window with plastics seats) for almost 2 hours for a half hour walk in the woods and a visit to an old plantation with rusted out hulks (antiques of sorts) of lumbering and farming equipment. We were served a nice lunch and drinks. Then you could go down to the watering hole and swim if you wanted. Then we got to ride 2 hours back in the bus. The next day RSSC sent a nice letter apologizing for the quality or lack of quality of the trip and reimbursed us for half the costs. That was nice if them! Food onboard for the most part was excellent in all the venues. I ate in everyone of them. Room service was no exception except I wasn't impressed with their pizza. I'm not a thick crust person and was even less impressed with the sauce. I grew up in the Northeast US and like a thinner crust with sauce that doesn't taste like Chef Boy R Dee. I know some folks enjoy Chicago-style crusts and a different tasting sauces so I won't say it was bad, I just didn't order another for the entire trip. They had other entrees on the room service menu that were superb. Latitudes Asian fusion food was to die for if you like asian-style cuisine. I couldn't begin to describe how much I enjoyed the food. The taste exploded in your mouth without any one flavor overwhelming your palate. The only regret was that they only had a one selection menu and it was the same every night (but I would have been more than glad to eat their food every night). I truly believe given the chance to vary the menu, the chef and his staff could have done wonders. We ate in the Cordon Bleu (sic?) style restaurant, again excellent food but I liked Latitudes better. The Buffet was changed each evening to an Italian restaurant with exceptional food. The appetizers and desserts were served buffet style or you could ask the waiter and he or she would get it for you. The entrees were ala carte. They had a Mediterranean night but we weren't able to make it, people we met onboard that did go stated it was excellent and couldn't wait for the next time they had it. It was only done for one night Mediterranean style, DARN IT ALL. The main dining room food was also very good but nothing to write home to Mom about. If you like Asian food, definitely eat at Latitudes. As with all reviews you know there is some low points. This one is no exception. If RSSC does not fix anything else but this, I'd sail with them anytime. Their beds absolutely, positively, unequivocally(sic?), beyond any reasonable doubt, just plain SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!! The suite we were in had twins pushed together as a king. Well they forgot to tell us it was King's Mountain or was that the Matterhorn in the center. Any possible support left in those mattresses had long left the ship before we got there. They had placed a support plank or something under the mattresses trying to level them out, but the elephant that slept there for years had left its indelible mark on those mattresses. There was only one place to sleep it was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a very uncomfortable rock with eggcrate on top of it. Believe me there are not enough negative adjectives in the English language to describe the uncomfortableness of those beds. My DW slept on the couch after about 4 nights trying to get comfortable on the bed. The butler and stewardess tried everything they could think of to help but those bed were beyond any kind of help. Davy Jones would have thrown them back onboard if I had thrown them overboard!!!! Thank God I can sleep on a rock with eggcrate or that couch would have been overcrowded! The DW says I can sleep anywhere well RSSC almost lost that bet for her! Overall, It was a great trip, as are all cruises when you're on vacation and not at work. The service, crew, ship, and food were excellent. I don't know if the extra cost for all-inclusive is truly worth it but it was nice not having to fuss with tips and slip-signing all the time. I'd definitely consider RSSC Voyager again (ONLY IF THEY CHANGE OUT THOSE LOUSY MATTRESSES). The quality of service was very good but having just come off of Oceania Nautica in November, Oceania wins for service, with a tie for most everything else. The only reason I marked the cabin a 3, I bet you can guess, YEP! the mattresses suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked! The room cleanliness and everything else was just fine. Don't get me started on those lousy mattresses again! S10CatMan and DW Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
This was our first cruise with Regent. we had cruised on a number of other lines and on larger ships and were looking for a more intimate experience. Pre-cruise - We booked a boutique hotel in Fort Lauderdale (The Pillars) for 4 days prior ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Regent. we had cruised on a number of other lines and on larger ships and were looking for a more intimate experience. Pre-cruise - We booked a boutique hotel in Fort Lauderdale (The Pillars) for 4 days prior to the cruise and were very pleased with all aspects of the hotel (17 rooms) particularly the service and dining. Embarkation - We took the airport shuttle to the dock (cost covered by the car rental firm) and had no issues. we arrived at the dock at approx.1:00 PM and were on the ship by 1:20PM. The suites were not supposed to be available until 2:30PM but we were in our room by immediately. We were greeted with a glass of champagne and sent to our room. Suite - 990 Horizon suite. The ship was going into drydock for upgrades at the end of our cruise so some minor wear was evident but overall the suite was excellent. The large balcony off the stern was great and we spent a great deal of time on it. The bed was excellent with quality pillows and bedding (as we expected) Suite service - We had the butler service and while it was good I expect that you could do without it. This in no way should reflect on our butler but frankly with a minimal effort on your part the same services can be had from your room attendant. we had room service a couple of times for breakfast and once for dinner. Each time the food arrived on time and HOT. Best service we have ever had on a cruise. Dining - We had dinner at both the Compass Rose and Latitudes. The main room (Compass) was well designed and decorated. The open seating allowed us to have a relaxing dinner without the normal push to exit at a specific time. Latitudes was excellent and should not be missed. You will be served all the items on the menu (in small portions)and be allowed to eat at your own pace. The presentation and quality of the food and the level of service is excellent. (Good restaurant level). The breakfast and lunch buffet area was smaller than most ships (at the serving area) but the food was hot and fresh. Beverages - Even though we are not big drinkers the fact that all beverages are included in your fare is a nice feature. No more reaching for your sea pass at every turn. The staff were always available to provide you with whatever it was you needed. Entertainment - The quality of entertainment was not as good as we had hoped but was typical cruise fare and was fine. I wouldn't choose this line over any other for this aspect. Activities - There were a number of typical activities available such as bingo, cards, jigsaw puzzles etc. Again very typical of many cruises. Service - Without question this was the best level of service we have experienced from the suite staff to the dining rooms and beyond. Shore excursions - We only went on two. The Fast Boat trip around St Barts which was fun and a nice overview of the beaches and the carriage trip in Grand Turk which was relaxing. Itinerary - The itinerary was not exactly thrilling. Princess Cays - Beach stop with BBQ - Was fine a good chance to relax. San Juan - Interesting place to visit once but we had been there before so we didn't bother getting off. St Barts - Very interesting and a place we will return. Take your money. Very quaint. Some folks found it small but there are a number of interesting shops and it is a good place to spend the day . Lunch 2 sandwiches and 2 drinks $57. St Maarten - Good excursions and great place to shop for baubles. Virgin Gorda - Did not get off and were told we didn't miss anything. Cayo Levantado - Again we did not get off. Grand Turk - Got off and took a carriage tour which really didn't show much but was a relaxing ride. The island itself is small and not really setup for visits. The cruise terminal is new and is what I would describe as Simulated Caribbean. Shops,pool and restaurant but not an experience. In general the ship had to use the tender more than we had thought. It was not a problem for us but a number of older passengers had problems and at times could not use the service. If you have any problems with mobility make sure you check out how often you will tender. Disembarkation - Again we made our own arrangements and just caught a shuttle to the Airport $20 as opposed to the $40 the line wanted and we had no issue. We sat in our cabin until about 10AM until we were called to exit. Normally you are supposed to leave your room by 8:30AM but I guess leaving a little extra for the attendant and butler helped here. General comments - The reason for choosing this cruise above others was the indicated level of service as well as the size of the ship. We could not have been happier with both. There were times when you could actually feel alone on this ship. There were very few lines and if there were any they were small. In comparison to the other lines we have sailed ( RCI and Celebrity) this is indeed a 6 star line and we will return. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
As forty something, I had never cruised in my life. Although I have traveled the world, never on a cruise ship. I finally decided to go out on a limb and try it. I'm not one to be confined in small spaces and be around a lot of people ... Read More
As forty something, I had never cruised in my life. Although I have traveled the world, never on a cruise ship. I finally decided to go out on a limb and try it. I'm not one to be confined in small spaces and be around a lot of people in such places. I contacted my travel councilor and asked her to recommend the best Cruise Line. To my surprise and delight she recommended Regent Seven Seas (stayed in the Mariner Suite), since she knew my likes and dislikes and my high expectations, she indicated that Seven Seas was the only Six Star Cruise Line. I trusted her and embarked on my first Cruise in March of 2007 to the Eastern Caribbean. I was so amazed and pleasantly surprised from the moment my baggage was picked up to the professionalism and friendliness of the crew, the cleanliness of the suites and the ship as a whole. Keep in mind I had high expectations, from service, accommodations, food, entertainment, spa amenities, excursions and everything in between. One crew member that stood out and displayed on-going professionalism, knowledge, friendliness, respect to passengers as well as to fellow crew members, is the Cruise Director at the time, his name is Bryan Townsend, my husband and I felt he went above and beyond the call of duty, not just to us, but to other passengers as well, since we met another couple on board and they felt the same about him as well. The dining experience was superb, definitely world class; the wine list would match any fine dinning. I'm used to traveling and staying in five star accommodations and services to match, and most certainly the Mariner met that and beyond for me. I was so pleased by every aspect of the ship and crew, two months later I went on another cruise to Alaska, same great service. I’m about to take my third cruise in March 08’ to the Eastern Caribbean, and in June of 08’ to the Mediterranean. The great finale for my husband and me will be the 121 day World Cruise in 09’. I can’t say enough about this cruise line, I highly recommend it. I disagree with a travel agent who mentioned that Regent was expensive, what she neglects to mention is the price is all inclusive, food, drinks, gratuities, and of course the excellent service. You get what you pay for. Thank you Regent Seven Seas (Mariner), keep doing what you are doing. GREAT! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
"A stunning improvement" is what I can best say to sum up my recent voyage on Regent's Seven Seas Mariner. My previous experience on this ship three years ago (see review on that ill-fated Asia cruise below) was nothing ... Read More
"A stunning improvement" is what I can best say to sum up my recent voyage on Regent's Seven Seas Mariner. My previous experience on this ship three years ago (see review on that ill-fated Asia cruise below) was nothing compared to this cruise. While this is still not as "perfect" a ship as Regent would like for it be, it finally comes pretty darn close. We sailed for 26 days (2 cruises B2B) from Ft.Lauderdale to Vancouver. While I had been to all of the ports we visited before, this was a trial run to see if Regent had improved its game since being rebranded. For those not in the loop, Regent was previously known as Radisson until the Spring of 2006. And while I'm not a complete Regent convert, one more cruise this good might just make me a brand loyalist. Accommodations: The Seven Seas Mariner was the cruising world's first all-suite, all-balcony ship. And, 6 years after its inaugural cruise, the suites are still the finest at sea. Plus, I was lucky enough to board just weeks after the Mariner's drydock, so the rooms were extra plush. The carpets and soft goods in the rooms were redone, while the line's new bedding is the best I've experienced anywhere. In fact, the rooms are so comfortable, I was unable to wake up early several days and would retire to my suite for afternoon naps (and I don't take naps). The bathroom products are Aveda accompanied with plush linens. And each room has a terry cloth robe and slippers. I am a long time "Crystalized" Crystal Cruises loyalists, but even I have to admit that Regent's Accommodations blow Crystal right out of the water. ENTERTAINMENT: The Mariner has two main entertainment venues. The primary one is the bi-level Constellation Theatre which is home to the main production shows, as well as various entertainers and regular movie showings. It is a comfortable room with good sightlines, as long as you are on the first level. It is impossible to sit on the second level without the railing blocking your view of the stage. The other room is the Horizon Lounge, located at the stern. This is a much more intimate room in which trivia, Bingo, teatime and varying cabaret acts take place. There is also a dancefloor there, but I rarely saw it used. The Mariner is not a ship to sail on if you're looking for round-the-clock entertainment. The crowd is unusually low-key and the ship turns into a ghost town once the clock strikes 10pm. The production shows are alright - for a smaller luxury ship that is. The Peter Grey Terhune Singers & Dancers do three shows - "Thoroughly Modern Broadway" (the usual schtick showcasing numbers from Broadway musicals that is a prerequisite on every cruise ship), "Here, There and Everywhere" (the Beatles-themed show) and "Beyond Imagination" (a disastrous assault on the unsuspecting guests that makes little to no sense). The other nights were filled with lounge singers, ventriloquists and comedians. Compared to Crystal where entertainment fills much more time with late night Liar's Club, Name-That-Tune, buffets, 50's night and lavish shows, Regent is quiet to boring. For night owls like myself, the only real place to hangout is the casino or the Internet cafe. The most exciting night onboard was a Rock 'N Roll night that took place late and drew a crowd of, oh, about 8 people (3 or 4 of which were asleep in their seats and drooling on themselves). But Dionne, the Assistant Cruise Director, and Louise, the Social Hostess, did a great job of trying to draw enthusiasm out of the dreary crowd. SERVICE: Perhaps the most improved aspect of the Mariner since my last trip is the service. During our last cruise, the service was poor most days. Servers in the dining room would ignore guests and stand around talking to each other. Other staffers were grumpy or downright rude. That was back in the Radisson days. Now as Regent, there is perhaps not a better staff at sea. Sure, there were some weak links - the sour Travel Concierge Desk staff or the Reception Staff whose only talent is to look confused and say "no" - but, overall, the employees on this ship could not do enough for us. Servers were friendly without being unprofessional, attentive without being obtrusive and genuinely cared about the happiness of all the guests. In fact, the best staff at any hotel or on any ship is the dinner staff at Latitudes (the alternative Asian-fusion restaurant). I can't describe in words how warm, welcoming and wonderful they are. It just has to be experienced. And you can't walk past a stewardess without her giving a smile and a hello. And, unlike last time, the officers are a prominent part of the scene and make great efforts to get to know the guests. Perhaps our funny and friendly Captain had set an example for the rest of the ship. Regent finally has a strong grasp on customer service and is almost to the level of Crystal. If Regent can train it's staff to embrace Crystal's "never say no" policy, this will be the best, most polished group of people at sea. Also of note is the ship's Guest Service Manager, Berniece. As a Guest Service Manager in the hotel industry myself, I respected her ownership of all guest issues and resolve to correct anything not up to par. As a nice touch, Berniece sent me a thank you note after I filled out a mid-cruise evaluation in which I pointed out a couple of areas that were not up to expectations. And besides the note, she made sure to correct the issues immediately. FOOD: Another major improvement this time around centered on the food. The Mariner has a main dining room (Compass Rose), the aforementioned alternative venue Latitudes and a Cordin Bleu alternate restaurant (Signatures). In addition, La Veranda is a casual alternative in the evenings. The food could not have been better. Everything was cooked to order and menus were inventive and appealing. It seemed as if each meal was better than the last. I'm already getting misty-eyed thinking about the duck springs rolls in Latitudes and the vegetable burritos from Compass Rose. I miss them! In addition, the line offers burgers, sandwiches and other casual food on the menus in case you need a break from the endless list of upscale dining options, which we did on occasion. PORTS: Our ports-of-call were Gatun Yacht Club, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Huatulco, Mexico; Acapulco, Mexico; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Los Angeles, CA; Port Hueneme, CA; San Francisco, CA; Astoria, OR; Seattle, WA; Prince Rupert, British Colombia; Skagway, AK; Juneau, AK; Sitka, AK. The ports were mostly fine - even the reviled Port Hueneme wasn't as bad as I had heard. At that port, Regent offered a very interesting shore excursion to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, which was a highlight. The main misses for me were Sitka and Juneau. Yes, fabulous shore excursions are offered in those ports. But the main towns are crowded, claustrophobic tourist traps. Long gone are the quaint storefronts and pubs. Now the sidewalks are full of long racks overflowing with Alaska t-shirts and row upon row of trinkets and other assorted crap in the store windows. Much like the Caribbean, Alaska is becoming overrun by ships, tourists and money-hungry locals. Ports such as Astoria and Prince Rupert were refreshing as they are enough off-the-beaten-path that you can enjoy the quiet uniqueness of the towns. And you can never go wrong with Seattle or San Francisco, both fantastic metropolitan havens. Our day in Seattle was especially wonderful. Port times on this cruise were shortened, unfortunately, due to one of the disabled pods on the ship. And, in some ports, times were shortened even further due to rough seas that slowed us down (we only had 5 hours in Seattle and 4 hours in Sitka!!) OVERALL: Regent is finally worthy of the "luxury" title. I was consistently impressed and many surprises were around every corner. Service (for the most part) is sincere and consistent, the food is amazing (the best at sea) and the suites are the like floating palaces. Plus, the intimate size of the ship allows you to get to know the staff as well as your fellow passengers. And now that everything is all-inclusive, Regent has become one of the best bargains going. I did experience service issues (such as the butler telling me I had to buy my own lint brush when I asked him for one, or the ship's photographer losing three of the four formal photos he had taken of me and my family with no apology, or the server in Signatures telling me that I could not order a plain green salad because it was not on the menu) which do stand out in my mind. Coming from Crystal where every request is a possibility, I was surprised by some of the discrepancies. But, overall, this was a fantastic trip. And I would not hesitate to sail with Regent again (in between Crystal cruises, of course!) Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
We have travelled worldwide and vacationed a lot. But never cruised, For my 60th Birthday we decided we would try it. After considerable research and lots of friends recommending Holland America, Cunard, Princess, we opted for midsize ... Read More
We have travelled worldwide and vacationed a lot. But never cruised, For my 60th Birthday we decided we would try it. After considerable research and lots of friends recommending Holland America, Cunard, Princess, we opted for midsize luxury with Regent. I liked the all inclusive idea. We added a 5 day land tour also booked with Regent which subsequently we regretted as it would have been better to do land tour first and end on a high of luxury cruise ship, rather than be disappointed even by 5 star hotels. and a bus with guide and others was not what we wanted. Next time we would still cruise with Regent but hire a car and do our own tour. Regent booked and included flights from Orlando, met us in the Vancouver air baggage claim and that was last we saw of our bags until we reached our suite onboard. A private car took us from air to ship terminal. The TSA were still there but were not as annoying as usual. Champagne welcomed us on board, and as it is my favourite drink when mixed with cassis, Kir Royale,we started as it continued for 7 days, free booze throughout trip including wine with all meals. The room was big with a balcony, I would not travel without one. The service was exquisite. Food knockout. We breakfasted in bed every day, and it was about 3 days before we got hang of order card so we ended up with 4 breakfasts every day for the 2 of us. Scenery is fantastic on Inside Passage, and we saw whales, dolphins,seals, and went on some excursions which took us even closer to blue glaciers. All well organised, no queues as we were about 500 folk on a 700 ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was our first ever cruise and we were a multigenerational group: my husband and I travelling with my parents (active 60 year olds) and my two daughters (8 and 6). Getting to the ship: We flew into Anchorage the day before the cruise ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise and we were a multigenerational group: my husband and I travelling with my parents (active 60 year olds) and my two daughters (8 and 6). Getting to the ship: We flew into Anchorage the day before the cruise and stayed at the Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage. Very nice place with great service and convenient if you want to see a bit of downtown Anchorage. We then took a van limo from Anchorage to Seward on the day of embarkation. Embarkation: We arrived at around 3 pm and there were no lines at all. We were on the boat and had our keys, etc. within about 15 minutes. We were able to go to our rooms right away and the bags arrived within an hour or two. The Ship: We did not have a great base of comparison since this was our first cruise, but the ship seemed very nice. It never felt crowded anywhere we went on board. The cabins were very nice with balconies, comfortable beds and good sized bathrooms. Dining: The food exceeded my expectations in all of the venues. I was most impressed with the quality of the food in the Compass Rose restaurant. The service was also great, with the staff going out of its way to make special accommodations. The kids were treated very well with a nice kids menu or the option of ordering off the adult menu. The least impressive part of the menus was the desserts, although there was always at least a nice ice cream dessert that appealed to me. None of the food felt institutional at all. I even thought the food at the La Veranda buffets for lunch and breakfast was quite good and very good for a buffet. The all inclusive aspect of the Mariner was very nice since we could always just get drinks, including wine and mixed drinks without a thought. The coffee bar was also quite nice and always had snacks available. Kid's Club: Nothing too fancy, but my 8 year old liked it. Probably the worst aspect was that it met often in one of the nightclubs and did not have a designated space. But the counselors seemed good, it was easy to use and we didn't need it that much on such a port-heavy itinerary. Overall the boat was very kid-friendly and the kids were very well behaved. Entertainment: Honestly we didn't see enough of this to rate it. Most of the activities like Trivia and Bingo seemed a little lame to me, but I think that is just a matter of taste. Disembarkation: Ran very smoothly with a short (15-20) minute wait. Ports and Excursions: Sitka: We did sea kayaking through the ship and had a very good experience. Also went and walked around Sitka and down to the National Park. Very enjoyable port with lots of charm. Juneau: Did the Tracy Arm excursion. Very nice scenery but a little long especially for the kids. Then did the helicopter tour with dogsledding, which was absolutely great! Fantastic views and just an overall fun experience. Kids loved it. Skagway: This was the train ride and gold panning trip. Good excursion (we had bad weather that day) and kid friendly. Campbell River: this is a new port and the local population was extremely welcoming and friendly. Went to a First Nations dance excursion which was entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We stayed at the Anchorage Hilton hotel the night before our cruise began, because it was suggested and arranged by Regent. Excellent central location--walk to restaurants and several sites of interest. The hotel seems stuck in a time warp ... Read More
We stayed at the Anchorage Hilton hotel the night before our cruise began, because it was suggested and arranged by Regent. Excellent central location--walk to restaurants and several sites of interest. The hotel seems stuck in a time warp from at least 20 years ago. Its "Alaska" lobby decor is dated, a Starbucks outpost notwithstanding. The room decor, again, was greatly in need of updating, though it was clean and in good condition. Forget the name "Hilton" as lending any panache; this could just as easily have been a Holiday Inn. Several other cruise ship passenger groups were also staying at the Anchorage Hilton. Regent, from the get-go, was unfailingly efficient and seamless in its planning. They'd met us at the airport, and transported us and our luggage to the hotel. On Cruise Day, they were transporting us and our fellow Regent passengers, and our luggage, by bus from the Hilton to Seward, the cruise embarkation town about 2.5 hours away. Anchorage, a town of about 26,000 had some well-reviewed bistros and a few museums (that we didn't visit) but its downtown area seemed small and uninterestingly modern—it could have been a small town anywhere. I admit we didn't do much exploring. I've since heard that Seward is more worth seeing; next time I'd consider spending my overnight time there. Details on the Seven Seas Mariner: An all-balcony, all-outside cabins, ship. 8 passenger decks; 2 specialty restaurants (one French--Signatures, one Asian-Fusion--Latitudes) plus a restaurant-style dining room (Compass Rose) and a buffet-style dining room; a coffee bar with specialty coffee drinks to order, soft drinks, and snacks (including wonderful chocolate chip and cranberry-oatmeal cookies); a pool; a spa with sauna and steam room; a fitness center (no charge); several bars and lounges; casino, library, theatre; children's programs (though not as child-oriented as many other cruise lines); dry cleaning and laundry service; self-service laundry; internet cafe (no charge); two shops; and an observation deck with more comfy chairs, coffee, beverages, and snacks. There is no additional charge for room service or to eat in the specialty restaurants (or anywhere else), and excellent house wines, or any other beverages of choice, are included with dinner We made online reservations in advance for the two specialty restaurants. Latitudes had one set menu with wines. The service was charming (just this side of unctuous), the food excellent. Our favorite though was Signatures, with outstanding food, not just for a ship, but for a top-flight restaurant anywhere. We liked it so much that we decided to have a second dinner there, and we enjoyed it as much as the first. On all Regent cruises, gratuities are included in the fare. To show their appreciation, passengers may make a contribution to a crew welfare fund. Most other Regent cruises have a couple of formal nights; however, the dress code for dinner on the Alaska cruises was described as "country club casual" with no formal nights. Service was beyond excellent, it was almost embarrassing. Every suite had a vanity-desk and sitting area. Marble bathrooms had robes and slippers, great lighting and we had combination tub-showers which had grab bars. We (there were three in my party) were in two non-"master" suites, 1045 and 1055, each with a single bedroom with a king bed. Every suite has a CD/DVD player, TV. There is a free library on board for borrowing movies and books. No alarm clock, but there were automated wake-up calls. Each cabin has a fully-stocked mini bar (no charge for anything consumed) plus they will stock two large bottles of liquors/liqueurs of choice. Our walk-in closets each had a safe. The beds were dressed with fine linens and duvets. During the unpacking and packing days, maids laid protective canvas covers on the beds, on top of which were placed the suitcases. Our balconies had nice wooden chairs and tables. TV stations were pretty limited: CNN, FOX (sometimes), two channels showing the ship's bow and weather reports (which seemed not to vary), a channel describing some of the excursions, and an infomercial channel for Regent cruises. There were reading lights on either side of the bed. Bathrooms had robes and slippers for use during the cruise; great towels. Toiletries (Aveda brand) included shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and bath gel. There was housekeeping service twice a day. Daily programs included lectures on art (no doubt related to the on-board auction) and Alaskan history and geography; games such as daily trivia, board games, bingo, and cards; computer classes; photography tips, evening shows and films, the casino, etc. The ship was wheel-chair-friendly and a few of the excursions were described as being suitable for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. There were some days at sea (once or twice even in port) when none of us had cell phone service. The highlight of highlights of our cruise was the excursion we took through the Tracy Arm Fjord to view the Sawyer Glaciers. Blue ice! We also very much enjoyed Sitka and Skagway. The excursions we took in Sitka were a visit to the Alaska Raptor Center, followed by an easy guided nature walk through the Sitka National Historic Park. Afterwards we took a "wildlife viewing cruise", and indeed saw diving whales, otters, eagles and bears. Juneau was a bore but we had only a few hours there because we'd started on the Tracy Arm excursion, boarding a catamaran directly from our Regent ship, before the Regent ship landed at Juneau. The Tracy Arm excursion boat had a cabin, though we were on deck most of the time, and the excursion was six hours, and worth every minute. That evening we went on an evening whale-watching excursion that was excellent,dinner provided on board the excursion boat. At Skagway we'd opted for a Chilkoot Trail Nature Hike and Float. We felt the hike much too arduous (not in terms of distance or stamina, but in terms of required steep rock climbing in deep woods. Sneakers weren't sufficient; we really needed hiking boots. The float down a placid river (not whitewater) afterwards was a relief. Most people had taken the Yukon Train excursion, and seemed to enjoy it. Our only disappointing port stop was the last one, at Campbell River, BC. It's only about 30 miles from Vancouver, but a waste of time as far as we're concerned. We'd heard that Regent has gone into partnership with the town (or the Canadian gov't) to turn Campbell River into a well-touristed cruise port, but so far it's not ready for prime time. A few tents set up at the pier for tourist souvenir shopping, and the rest of it looked like a generic small town with a few strip malls and no charm. Be aware that the huge number of jewelry stores you see in each port are often owned all or in part by the cruise lines. There are no jewelry bargains. Look for the shops that show signs saying "locally owned and operated." Don't go to Alaska without insect repellent, especially if you will be in woods or out at night. The local joke is that the mosquito is the state bird. For outdoor viewing of the Hubbard Glacier (on board the Regent Ship) we needed layers of warm clothing, waterproof outwear, hats and gloves. For our daytripping in ports after that we needed jackets, sweaters, jeans and sneakers, and we often ended the day by tying our jackets around our waists. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Western Mediterranean Cruise Rome to Monte Carlo Regent Voyager - Oct 25 - Nov 4, 2007 Trip to Rome I flew on British Airways from Houston IAH via Gatwick and on to Rome on October 25, arriving on the morning of October 26. I had some ... Read More
Western Mediterranean Cruise Rome to Monte Carlo Regent Voyager - Oct 25 - Nov 4, 2007 Trip to Rome I flew on British Airways from Houston IAH via Gatwick and on to Rome on October 25, arriving on the morning of October 26. I had some glitches in Gatwick. I had a large selection of personal entertainment, but each channel went through a program. There was not entertainment on demand on this trip. From Gatwick within Europe, they allow one carry-on bag. One bag does not mean a bag and a purse. I ended up hand carrying my 17 inch laptop across the entire airport and checking my other bag. I was relieved when I saw the bag in Rome since it was checked at the last minute. The Gatwick airport had an area to go for those ending their trip in the U.K. and another for those going on. We departed late by about 45 minutes, but they made up just about all of the time. A meal was served and later a snack and various beverages were passed out at intervals. The flight was nice and quiet. My flight gates were as far apart as possible, but I did make it. The flight to Rome was non-eventful. It was fairly full. We arrived at the scheduled time. In Rome, nobody looked at our passports or anything anywhere, and my passport was not stamped. I had booked my transfers with my hotel, Hotel Hassler Roma Villa Medica. I did not see my guide, and I was worried because Crystal and Princess had their people in there. When I went back and forth for some time, I then discovered that my driver and many others were outside the baggage area just before the exit. My driver (that I arranged thru Hassler) took my bags and then walked me up to his car, a Mercedes Sedan. It had been raining and was still sprinkling. The driver chatted on the phone (7 calls) for the entire ride. Hotel Hassler - it was very nice, I had a lovely view. The rooftop restaurant was nice, but it was pricey. I enjoyed the casual spaghetti restaurant more at the top of the Spanish Steps. Rome I walked for hours and saw churches, fountains, etc. I enjoyed seeing all the cafes and gelati places. I had a late lunch at a little pizza house. They weighed my marghareta pizza by the kg and gave me white wine. All told, cost was 5.8 Euros for 2 slices and the wine. It is amazing to watch the crowd on the steps grow with the time of day, and people in Rome just walk, and most are not going anywhere in particular. I loved that. Everything is beautiful at night, and the little cafes and such stay open late. Even McDonalds sells gelati. I saw the coliseum but only from the car. I was on top of it pretty much. The train station for Spagna is right there at the hotel, so you could figure this out if you were so inclined. Near there, a lot of artists hang out to sell paintings, and large, beautiful paintings are available for 50 Euros. At 1:30 the next day, my ride came for the ship. This was another Mercedes, and this driver was pleasant and gave me a tour, including Venice Square and the coliseum. We arrived in one hour. It took longer to get out of Rome than to go down the highway. Civitavecchia & Embarking Regent Voyager A young Regent staffer said to leave my large bag, but he did not glance at it and walked off. My driver and I were both a bit concerned about leaving it just sitting there. I struggled with my own carryon that was quite heavy up the gangplank. At no time was I offered assistance. At the top, I was not shown where to check in, only told where it was. I went there. Was not offered champagne, had to ask. Also, I had to ask how to get to elevators, and I got lost and staff just laughed. I made my way up to my deck, and a nice Filipino giggled and took me to my cabin. Again, no assistance or anything, and she just left. Minutes later, another girl came and said she was my stewardess and explained the room. After lunch, I gave myself a self tour of most of the public areas. I came back to my cabin and saw my large suitcase outside the door. My key did not work, so I had to get it redone, then dealt with my own bag again. I unpacked the large bag, but before I got the small one unpacked, it was time for the lifeboat drill. This was very painless. After that, they had a block party vs. a sailing party. I met everyone on this hall, which was half of deck 7. There were quite a few Texans but none from my area. There was a bottle of Regent's own champagne waiting chilled on the dining table for a bon voyage. Cabin I was in cabin 708, a port side cabin in category G. All cabins on Regent Voyager are balcony cabins. This category is 345 square ft., including the balcony. Outside, the cabin has a hanger on the door for the daily news and any items to be delivered. There is also a doorbell. As you walk in the cabin, the bathroom is on the left. There is a separate shower and tub, and the tub also has a shower head for rinsing off. There is a clothes line there. The marble sink area had shelves and plenty of space for toiletries and a nice large mirror with plenty of lighting. There were cabinets for additional storage if needed. Amenities were Aveda and included lotion, shampoo and conditioner (rosemary mint), bath gel, and nice bar soap. Next is the closet. It has lots of hangers. Half of the hanging area is split with two rods for shorter items, and the other half is one rod for longer items. Robes and slippers are provided. A European hair dryer is provided, and a shoe horn was located in the closet. There were small, medium and large drawers and an electronic safe. There is also the life jackets and the dining table that they add to your coffee table when you order room service. Built in to the side wall is the dressing table. This includes two each of 115 volt U.S. style plugs and 2 European style 220 volt plugs. There is ample lighting and a small stool. The shelf and drawer there are small, so there is not much space to set things. This was ample for my needs, but a lot of people said they didn't like it when the senior staff was talking about ways to improve cabins for the new upcoming ship. The bed was nicely sized and had lamps and night stands on either side. One side had a phone. Drapes can be drawn between the sitting a sleeping area. The sitting area had a full sized couch, which I really enjoyed. The dining table had two chairs. The desk had all of the usual drawers, shelves and cabinets and housed the fridge. In the fridge, they had soda-Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, and Schwepps club soda and 2 Budweiser and 2 Becks beers. I took out all of the things I didn't want and just left the Coke Light and club soda. There was plenty of ice and also bottled water. The TV was the old CRT style and was on a swivel shelf that allowed viewing from the couch or the bed. These are being replaced before the year's end and likely by mid-November when the ship adds many more channels and video on demand. There were white orchids in the cabin and also fresh fruit. The bedding included a nice duvet and a pretty throw, and my stewardess provided additional pillows for me when I asked for firm ones to go with the soft ones. Layout of the Ship When I checked in, I was told lunch was up on deck 11 at the pool grill, so I decided to self tour a bit and get some lunch. I was in no hurry since I had already had one lunch that day (but no breakfast, lol). I tended to get around the ship by getting in the glass elevators and reading the signs there. The observation lounge, pool, pool bar and grill and hot tubs, and La Verandah were all on deck 11. The jogging/walking track, the golf cage and shuffleboard were on deck 12. The other public areas were on 4, 5 and 6, and these included the Constellation theatre on decks 4 and 5, the Horizons Lounge on deck 5, Signatures, and Latitudes on deck 5, Travel desk and Reception and the shops on deck 5, the casino, Voyager lounge, and Compass Rose on deck 4. Some of the areas did fill up at times, but it was never uncomfortable. The pool deck had covered and non-covered areas and a lot of seating at the grill. This got a bit crowded on the special dining days. Also, the pool deck got a bit crowded since there were only a couple of warm days. It was OK, though. There were always plenty of towels, and the hot tubs were always a good temperature and were available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are two showers there, and the pool was heated. Two days they had to drain it due to the wind, but the hot tubs were always available. The decks and public areas were kept immaculate. Pool Grille Daily, they put out baguettes and other fresh breads, salads, sandwiches, a chilled soup, and fresh fruits, along with made to order ice cream. They grilled burgers and dogs, and this was open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There were covered tables (nice when the regular dining rooms were closed and it was cold). Service took a while there, but once they figure out you are there, they wait on you. On embarkation day, I found this and went up and had lunch with a nice lady and her mother. I had salad with baby shrimp and some fruit. We had delightful conversation. This was when I was going to use the hot tub but I enjoyed the conversation. Some were sunbathing, and it was warm enough and lovely enough. In Ajaccio, Corsica, I went up to join the grilled fish bbq on the pool deck. I had sea bass, grilled zucchini, some salads, and some cherry ice cream, along with ice tea. They had a great display and presentation, and I think earlier, they had live music. They were grilling salmon, mahi mahi, and tuna, also. In Spain, they had a paella lunch out there. This included grillabas, many Spanish side dishes, grilled lobster, steaks, chicken, and sausages, along with the outstanding paella. Breakfast at La Veranda I dined here several mornings. The first time was the first full day of the cruise. I walked in and did not know the routine and asked about outdoor seating and was told but not shown that there was a table in the corner. Also, I asked about boiled eggs and was told I could order from the waiter, but he did not stay long enough to do so, nor did he point out that you could presumably order other items besides the buffet. I found the buffet to be of nice quality but rather limited. There was fresh fruit, a few European meats and cheeses, American items such as sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, omelets to order, and hash browns, and cereals and rolls. They sometimes had baby shrimp. They had a juice selection. I saw no waffles, French toast or even sliced bread for toast, so I can only guess these could be ordered. No champagne for mimosas or anything like that, either. After the first day, I either skipped breakfast, or joined the solo travelers, and once I dined in my cabin. I never made the Compass Rose for breakfast, as it never met my schedule. Room Service For breakfast, you can place the card out on the door before you go to bed at night. Even if you stay up until 1 a.m., if you put 6:30 on the time slot, it will come, at least mine did. The card comes with the turndown service. Eggs to order, fruits, pastries, waffles, French toast, bagels, cold cuts and such could all be ordered. All day, a wide selection of items were available. At night during dinner, these items could be ordered, or the Compass Rose dinner items could be ordered. These could be served course by course if desired at dinner. I had lunch one day and ordered a green salad, pasta with pesto, Indian curry vegetables, and shrimp cocktail. The menu was extensive. They had steak, pizzas to order, pasta, crème Brule, sandwiches to order, soup, etc. Service time was reasonable, and there was absolutely no confusion in my orders. You could also call and just order juices, drinks or whatever you liked, and that would come quickly. Lunch at La Veranda I only dined here one day. They open the buffet on both sides, so you dine and get your selection on whichever side you enter. The day that I dined, I had a seafood cocktail with mussels and shrimp. I also had some chicken tortilla soup and salad and also some lovely veal picatta. They serve tea, soda, or wine here. They have a variety of desserts, including a sugar free and low fat selection. On the day we were in Marseilles, they had bouillabaisse, but I missed it since I got back after 2 p.m. Though they close at 2, they start breaking down everything but the dessert and 1:45, but they go around and warn guests (something similar happens at breakfast). Lunch at Compass Rose I only made this one time. Service was what I expected here. The maitre d asked me if I wanted to have a table opened for sharing or wished to dine alone. This was lovely of him to ask since he had been helpful in my Signatures reservation mix up (see that section further down). The funny thing that happened here was I saw cobb salad on the menu and said I wanted one except I only wanted bacon, egg, and tomato. Literally, that is what I got, and when they brought it, I told them I wanted the lettuce and dressing, too!! They did it over, and it was beautiful. I had a nice soup here and the mixed fried seafood. I asked if they had sorbet, and the waiter said he thought it was too early, but luckily they had just made it, and it was very nice. They use one side of the room for lunch setup, and I got to see the sail in to Monte Carlo harbor from my seat. I really enjoyed that. Dinner at Signatures Signatures is one of the two specialty restaurants that require advanced reservations. You can book online 28 days in advance, and there is no additional cost. I booked online and asked to be seated with others at a table for 8. However, the reservation came to the ship as me with 7 people that I already had lined up. They called at 6:15 to confirm my 7:30 reservation and told me to come on down and they would see what they could do. So I went up to Horizons beforehand to see who was having cocktails and who I could find, but others had plans for another day or something going this particular night that they did not want to miss. The maitre d was rather apologetic and seated me alone and said he would see who he could find. I was upset and almost in tears for 20 minutes since a lady was nearby that had told me several days earlier that Regent should not accept anyone traveling alone and that no matter who they were or what their reason for traveling alone that they wrecked the ambiance for couples. Since families, singles, and couples are welcome (not to mention this just being cruel), the comment was not appropriate. She was seated three tables away and was staring, so I kept looking at my menu and never up until a couple was seated with me that had also had the reservation mixup happen to them. The maitre d told me all the reservations from this and the previous cruise from the website had come this way. I quickly told him I was afraid of Latitudes for the next night, and he called and fixed the whole thing. I'd heard the wines were better there, but they had the same ones as downstairs, which had not changed in 4 days since embarkation. They were willing to open something else at each location, but those wines would then pour slower as if it was coming begrudgingly. If you have an issue with salt where you are restricted or simply don't like the taste, talk to the waiter in advance. I did not do this, and I did not eat my crustation soup or my halibut because they were too salty. The waiter did offer to have the chef redo the dishes. I had a lovely lobster medallion salad with mango and a precious crème Brule that was cut into a thin strip and served with strawberries and pistachio cream. One of my tablemates had HUGE prawns and the other lamb chops. They had several courses and were quite happy with theirs. Presentation and service were very good here. Dining time was about two hours. This will take longer if you linger over coffee or tea. Dinner at Latitudes That was the best meal I had on the ship. I loved it. I was seated with two couples (since the reservation was straightened out). One couple was on their honeymoon (not first marriage at least for him). The appetizers were good - spring rolls, the crisp ones and also another type, beef satay, ribs (my least favorite, but I am not a big meat eater), and some delicious crunchy shrimp triangle. That would have been enough there, but we carried on to a broth based soup with a shrimp in it and then a citrus salad with grapefruit and oranges. Next, they had lobster, chicken thighs, and tenderloin. I had only the lobster. The dessert was a lovely presentation with coconut sorbet in a crispy chocolate handle and green banana in phyllo dough. Dining time was about 2 hours. Dinner at La Veranda I dined here on the last night with Jeannie, a very nice lady that I "met" online at Cruise Critic message board and in person on the Lucca wine tour. We enjoyed the casual and quiet atmosphere. We were seated at the side at a table for two. First, we had items from the antipasto bar. I had clams, cured meats, and cheese. We both loved the baguette, as usual. I didn't write down much about dinner, but we had a nice soup and then she had steak that she said was the best on the trip, and I had fish. For dessert, she had a little something from the buffet, and I had the bananas foster. Dinner here took about an hour and 45 minutes. Dinners at Compass Rose I started my first dinner here by joining the solo get together in Horizons Lounge where we met the social hostess, Terry and then got arranged in two large tables. Each night, those that wanted to join would meet at either Horizons or Voyager for a brief get together and then go into dinner hosted by either the distinguished gentlemen or one or two of the social hosts or both. First Night - dress code country club casual - Some people were dressed up more than others. The men at our table had jackets, but 2 of the 3 were hosts, and the other was being a host on his own. We had an exceptional dinner and a delightful time. I was able to get wonderful choices. The lady next to me had the degustation menu. She was very happy with it. I had mussels, shrimp and king crab (two appetizers), spinach salad with egg and bacon and some wonderful balsamic. I had a yellow squash soup that was out of this world. I had the sea bream, and it was delightful. Most of us did not like the daily pour for white, a savignon, but they filled the whole glass, then we all got whatever other choices we could get. Those with the red liked it. They did not offer to switch to red, and the service was rather casual but efficient enough. The petite fours were brought out along with the dessert menu. I had a nutty one and did not order dessert. We finished dining at 9:35. Second Night - I joined the social hostess, Terry and one of the Distinguished Gentlemen and the lady from Britain I met the night before (Glenda), along with another guest, Bob. Glenda is 75, and Bob is 84. I had tomato soup with fresh basil (not bisque), a small portion of linguini with clams, greens with walnut vinaigrette and osso bucco. Again, I ordered no dessert. Unless you order the fish, the meat portions are ENORMOUS. We had asked for a quieter location on this night, and we were happier with this table. The center area can get quite loud. Third Night - informal - We all had the lobster. Glenda and I had the essence of pheasant soup. I had a salad. Jeannie and I had crème Brule (not on the menu), and Glenda had a passion fruit frozen thing that she repeatedly said was delightful. I asked for a Bordeaux and got Phully Fuse. Fourth Visit on 6th night - informal (but was originally country club casual) I had dinner with Jeannie and the two distinguished gentlemen. We had a nice time. I ordered bisque. Again too salty but not nearly as salty as that soup at Signatures, which was inedible for my taste. I ordered sea bream, surprised they were already repeating the menu in only 5 days. For appetizer, I had fois gras, which was lovely and then I had a chocolate from the petit fours. Jeannie had chateaubriand. I know Mark had two soups, and he also thought the bisque was salty. Entertainment I attended the shows every night that they had them. The next to the last night, the show was cancelled, and they were going to put Bryan G. on again, but for some reason, they decided to just have a movie in the Constellation Lounge. I did not attend that. The main entertainment was at 9:45 every night. First night - for the main entertainment, there was a singer named Elaine that did Gerschwin and Cole Porter. This show was very pleasant. After the show, I went to Voyager Lounge and the Duo sang a wide variety of tunes. I left when they quit. I didn't know the disco was starting. Second night - Bryan G. doing musical impressions and comedy, he was a fill-in since the sound system was not working. He came over from Navigator, though he regularly performs on RCCL. This show wasn't really appropriate for this audience. He did impressions that were a bit off-color. I walked out, but I heard the middle part of the show was not too bad. I found Bob (a nearly 85 year old widower that I met at a solo party, so funny, one night he had me laughing so much that my face hurt) sitting at Voyager Lounge, and we watched the karaoke. Some were excellent. Some were just having fun. The social hostesses stood where they blocked the screen so many of us could not see the words, but some of us knew a lot of them. After that, we stayed for the dance party. Bob left at close to midnight. I left at 12:30. I got to bed at 1 a.m. Third night - this was another fill-in. He did British comedy and magic. Glenda laughed and snorted so much and then she went up to his Liar's Club game, but I went to bed. He is Mark Wahrgun or something. He was pretty good. Fourth night - the production company did the Lullaby of Broadway show. They had tunes from Westside Story, Cats, South Pacific, 42nd Street, Les Miserables and one or two others. The boat was rocking, and those girls still danced it up on the high heels. The voices on these people were fabulous, and they got a standing ovation. Next, I went in and listened to the duo sing. They are so good and so talented. Fifth night (Halloween) - The Three Divas were very nice. I enjoyed them immensely. They trained together 25 years ago, and I believe they said it was their first time to perform together. Next, I went to the scaraoki party. It was PACKED. The main singers from the production company were there and at the casino in costume and many guests and all of the social hostesses were dressed up. We saw a cigarette girl, a lady bug, a ghost, several dead people, including a dead bride and some people did cowboy or just goofiness. Many of us did nothing and just wore the glow rings they passed out. I started a balloon pass in the fog, and we were doing Monster Mash and others like Thriller in the fog. First they did a short karaoke and then a dance party. What a fun night, and again I retired at 1 a.m. Sixth night - there was no main show due to rough seas. They had the movie Wild Hogs instead, and I was 2/3 sick from the wind in Marseilles, so I didn't want to sit in there till midnight watching a movie. They had a dance party in the atrium, and it was just the social staff singing. I wasn't too interested in that. I played roulette for a while and more than doubled my money. Everything in the casino works in USD. I more than doubled in 12 minutes, so I cashed out and chatted in Voyager Lounge for some time and went to bed by 11. Seventh night - the production company did 60s, 70s, and 80s show tunes. They had a lot of costume changes and even fake fireworks. I went to Voyager Lounge and exchanged a few addresses. Then Glenda and I went up to the Observation Lounge and chatted with some people until almost one while we viewed the SPECTACULAR harbor view of Monaco. Money cannot buy those moments like that. The music there (Frankie on guitar) was very nice. Then we had champagne in her cabin and I copied off her photos. Each night, there was something going on in every lounge. I thought it was all well put together. In Horizons, they had lovely piano music before dinner and offered ballroom dance music there. It was quiet and a good place to talk and relax before dinner. The gentlemen hosts were there for ladies that needed a dance partner. The duo performed at the Voyager Lounge, and they usually sang 60s and 70s music but threw in some 50s and 80s, as well. They did adult contemporary most of the time but threw in a little bit of country, including Cotton Eye Joe one night. I only found Frankie in Observation on the last night, but this seems to have been popular, though there were only maybe 6 people there when I went up the last night. One night at about 6:15, the crew did a show with about a half dozen numbers, and they held up candles and flags from their native land. Also, there were times that they had other live music like at the deck parties and such. Activities The cruise started out with a block party where on every deck, guests were told to grab a glass and come into the hall at 6 p.m. They passed out soda and wine and appetizers while people chatted and introduced themselves. Daily, there was team trivia in Horizons Lounge during tea, and there was also a quiet tea at Observation Lounge, though I never tried it. Once, there was bingo. This was a cash bingo for cash prizes. Also, there were a number of Texas Hold 'Em tournaments at night and a couple of slot tournaments during the day with a $30 buy-in. I came in 6th out of 7th on my tournament. The captain's welcome party introduced a few officers and gave guests a chance to mingle, but it was the 3rd night of a 7 night cruise, a bit late into it, I thought. Also, it was after the repeat guest Seven Seas Society party, and it felt like an afterthought, really. They did make a lovely video, but they would not make that one or the Halloween party one available for sale. The farewell party was two nights later on the 5th night, too early, I thought. There was at least one thing going on every hour from maybe 7 a.m. until late at night. There was a whole fitness schedule with something I the morning and something in the afternoon. Also, you could walk the track or work out on your own. Also, the steam and sauna were completely available to guests, and towels and water were there, along with showers, though the women's shower was broken. There were a lot of art auctions, but these did not interfere with anything else, and the organizers, Park West brought in their own interested parties and wined them off property and such to the point that a few were a bit embarrassing and falling down drunk a few times Not that many people witnessed this behavior. A lecturer gave six lectures on the region. I attended one on Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. All the lectures were shown on TV, and the lecturer offered to send audio free to anyone that asked. My cruise was hyped as a Jean Michael Custeau itinerary. Only one lecture was given, and this was during the Golf de Porto to Ajaccio overland tour, so I missed it. There was a daily meet for guests that wanted to do shuffleboard, ping pong, tennis, or golf, and there were one or two organized golf events onboard. They have daily quizzes, Sudokus and crosswords. Cabins have DVD players, and you can get two DVDs at a time until you turn them in for exchange. I found the selection rather limited, but I have a Netflix membership and a husband that makes sure we see a lot of movies. In the room, they ran 4 movie channels with movies that are mostly not yet on DVD or PPV. These changed daily at midnight and ran every two hours. I saw pretty much every movie I had not already seen. This program is being expanded before year's end when they will have video on demand and flat screen TVs. Tours and Ports I did not do anything in Civitavecchia except board the ship. I spent all of my time in Rome. Rome was my favorite part of the trip, and this was self touring and exploring pre-cruise. Livorno, Italy - I went on the tour in Luca up to a local farm. We passed Pisa and the leaning tower and saw a lot of beautiful scenery in the Tuscan hills. We had a brief winery tour at the Mionchi farm and had their wines and cured meats and cheese while we chatted in a cave. This location also has a charming restaurant and a shop selling the olive oil and wines, and they also offer rooms here, though we did not see the inside of them. This was quite a beautiful place, and the pictures did not fully capture the gardens and the hills in this area. Our local guide also served as a translator since our guide at the farm only spoke Italian. This was a lovely tour, but a few people wanted to leave early since they were still tired from travel, and it made things a bit awkward and stressful for those that wanted to enjoy the tour they paid for. Golfe de Porto and Ajaccio, Corsica, France - My tour, the overland tour from Porto to Ajaccio started at 7:30. I met Jan and Fred from Luxury Cruise Talk on this tour. We had the most spectacular views. We saw some churches and things along the way and learned some things about the local culture. The guide was born and raised in Corsica. We stopped halfway for some refreshments. They offered many coffee type things, sodas, and juices at a cost, and we were able to use the restroom. We headed on and eventually ended up at a spectacular spot where they had cured meats, cheese, and local award winning wine all laid out for us. There was nice bread and pickles, also. It was spectacular to sit out there. We joined the ship at 1 pm. after a mini-tour of the town where we viewed a couple of Napoleon statues (Ajaccio is his birthplace) and a few of the main streets. Marseilles, France - I wish I had gone on the Aux en Provence market tour, but I did not want to go out early, and I did not sign up in time since the tour office closed early. I decided I would take a leisurely morning on the ship and then head out on the shuttle to town. There I planned to take the bus to Provence. I went all the way up to the St. Charles bus station, but I didn't find it. It turns out that the bus was leaving from the train station. Though the bus station and train station are close, I did not realize that the area with all the steps that I saw was the train station. I bought some nougats and caramels and chocolates at a local shop. I also bought soaps and spices. I walked until I couldn't stand it, and I made my way back to the shuttle bus that was waiting right there for us. I had rode the bus over with the lecturer from Cousteau. I heard he was his grandson but didn't ask. Bryan G was on the shuttle, too. He was telling of where all he performs. It sounds like he is Venice based and does a lot of RCCL. It was pretty cold and extremely windy. I caught cold and was very congested the rest of the trip. Ibiza, Spain - I went to the south of the town tour. There wasn't much to see right now since season is over. The guide struggled with finding material, but he was nice and also local, and I ended up seeing sunset on the beach, so a nice hour of that sunset walking on the sand was nice. We also saw the local salt fields and stopped at a shop to sample a local dessert that they said was used for weddings. It was kind of eggish but hard to explain. There is a photo in the pictures. Here the tour included white coffee, also, but I did not have any. We had time to run in a local souvenir shop, and had we wanted to, we could have gone in the pearl shop next door. We also toured a local church here. Palma de Mallorca, Spain - My tour in Palma (gastronomic tour) got cancelled, so I joined the Chopin tour. I knew nothing about it at all except it was supposed to be good and had space since they had added a 2nd bus to accommodate those of us that had nothing to do now. So, I thought, why not? What a good decision. We went up the mountain to the monastery where Chopin lived for some time. We toured all the rooms and saw the piano and many other things related to him and George (female) Sands. Next, they took us into a little restaurant in the town where our tour included sangria, orange juice, coke or water. They passed out cheese, cured meat, chicken croquets that were wonderful but didn't taste like chicken, and Spanish omelets. We also had chips and olives on our table. Next, they had a short Chopin concert for us. Although it was All Saints Day, all the shops in the little square there were opened. Many bought the man-made pearls. I didn't but liked them. I bought some deck shoes and a bag to bring home my purchases for the week. They had animal skins, glass, porcelain, lots of lace and many other items like leather jackets, shoes, etc. and then at the monastery they had calendars, Chopin CDs, etc. That tour went from 9 to 1:10 and was also led by a local guide Monte Carlo - I had not arranged anything, so I walked all the way around the harbor and up the hill far down. I saw the casino and walked thru a carnival. What an interesting thing. Some booths they were shooting the guns (like we do for stuffed animals) for Wii, Ipod, stereos, etc. I went to a grocery store and bought some Italian and French treats for 9.71 Euros. Debarkation That morning, there was a beautiful sunrise from the port side. I enjoyed my cabin until 8:30, though the maid burst in at 7:20. I had a leisurely breakfast with Glenda. We disembarked at 9:45, as those with independent travel arrangements could leave any time between 8:15 and 9:45. My ride was there waiting to take me to Nice. Nice I had requested early check-in at La Perouse, and when I arrived, my room was ready. It was before 10:30. Kathy (ChatKat on CC) and her husband, Frank were there, along with their friends Fred and Pat. My room was 101 and was a sea view balcony next to the pool area and just over the garden sitting area. The other floors have separators between their balconies, but the patio balcony rooms are rather non-private. It was still a beautiful spot, and the sunset there was breathtaking. I had lunch with Kathy, Frank, Fred, and Pat. Lunch was fun, and they introduced me to the market area and told me how it works. That area is in the old town next to the hotel. There are tons of restaurants there serving mussels, oysters, lobster, shrimp, crab and also pizza, pasta and other things. The market had fruits and flowers. I bought some dried strawberries and macadamia nuts. They had to go since they were headed for the next Voyager cruise, but I strolled through the old town and along the promenade and ran into Glenda when I saw her sitting on a tourist train waiting for it to leave. I hopped on. We went all along the highlights around and were taken up the hill for nice views. I started walking along the promenade up from the beach. I went down on the rock beach some also. The weather was spectacular. Lots of people were just lying on towels down on the beach either looking out or reading, and a few were in the water. For dinner, I went back to the market. At night, they turn on warmers outside and add more tables. I ordered grilled lobster and cold crab. I had enough for two or more people. Before dinner, I spent an hour in the hot tub up on the solarium at La Perouse. The view was nice up there. The next morning, I had breakfast at 6:30 (they put it out early for me), and my ride helped me with my bags and helped me get through the line and speak to everyone at the airport. Comments Regent Experience: The Regent Voyager proved to be a wonderful cruise experience for me. I saw many new places and had a good time. They attempted to teach us new things and entertain us with a variety of activities and shows. They attempted to have local foods and fresh fish as nice surprises, and I really enjoyed that. The embarkation did not make me feel at all special and gave a bad first impression. Service at the buffet meals was not up to par with my expectations. Service in the other restaurants was very nice. In particular, they should keep their maitre d staff, as they were touchingly helpful. I felt the Hotel Director was a little overwhelmed by my comments of what needed improved, but I believe he addressed all that could be addressed during the cruise and in retrospect appreciated the feedback. The other area that disappointed me was with my stewardess who could not learn my consistent routine and who didn't seem to understand why anyone would want anything to drink that was not in the fridge already. This cruise was a special one that had a VP on board, and a panel session was held with the top officers. There were issues discussed with service, and they would not directly answer the question about whether they were paying the Asian staff as much as they would Europeans. They simply said pay had nothing to do with it and that people were paid in their own currency but that they could not easily attract Europeans due to the falling dollar. Clearly, whatever staff they hire, they need to polish the service. Comparison to Silversea Cabins: cabins are larger than the smaller SS ships and the same size as the larger SS ships. However, the closet is smaller on Regent (but plenty adequate), which allows for a full couch vs. the loveseat style on SS. SS had more movie selection, but Regent is already addressing this issue in the next month. Embarkation: On both SS cruises, we paid for the early embarkation. In one case we were greeted by tuxedoed staff. The other time, we were just greeted. Both times, I checked out the official embarkation time, and guests were offered champagne and made to order caviar and smoked salmon canapes. Also, SS has nice sail away parties on deck vs. block parties indoors on Regent. Room Service: both lines have an extensive room service menu and will do dinner from the regular dining room menu during dinner. Buffet Service: The buffets on SS are much more extensive even though the ships are smaller. They also ask if you want to order other items. They have a champagne breakfast, as well. You never touch your food on SS, they serve you from the buffet (except you get your own salad) and they carry your plate to your table. On Regent, you find it yourself and find your own table if you can. However, this improved during my cruise. Food: SS has an older average demographic, and sometimes they do make dishes a bit bland. Regent was not afraid to make things spicy, which I loved. Conversely, Regent did make some dishes way too salty, particularly soups in all venues and all the dishes at Signatures. We are not into caviar, but it is still free on SS for the asking. Restaurants: Regent Voyager certainly has more dining choices. On SS when I went to the Italian restaurant, I felt like I was missing the fabulous experience at the main dining room. I may feel like that on Navigator, too when I try them in December, but on this cruise, I loved trying the different dining rooms, and kudos to Regent for making them all free. L'Attitudes was a particular delight. Pool Deck Service: This was much better on SS. They would come serve you even in the hot tubs. I went there daily, and this never happened. On SS, they misted daily and passed out fruit kabobs, ice cream or sorbet often. You could get food served at your seat (which I rarely saw on Regent), and you did not have to sit as long before someone offered a drink on SS. At the pool restaurant on SS, there were more selections on Whisper than Regent, and the whole service was just a notch above even at the restaurant. Pool bar service was similar at all 3 of my cruises. Bar snacks: on SS, they put out mixed nuts, Chex mix, Japanese crackers, etc. The few times they had any snacks out on Voyager, they were ruffled potato chips. Tea: on SS, they were using loose tea, while on Regent it was bags, and the tea time was more formal with more delightful choices on SS. However, I did not try the quiet one on Regent. Many guests on Regent enjoyed the coffee bar area. Spa: I did not try the spa on Regent, but the seating areas on SS are more comfortable, spacious and pleasing to the eye. Facilities and treatment offerings, along with fitness class offerings were similar. Entertainment & Activities: I enjoyed this on both lines. SS moved away from the production shows for now, but I feel they will be back on the new bigger ship. I always enjoyed every show on both lines. Daily activities were similar. Trivia was much more organized on SS where an attempt was made to get team sizes fairly distributed. Everyone actually felt they had a chance that way. Also, SS has a nice golf program where there are a lot of activities with the pro, and the pro on the larger ships escorts a golf outing. Turndown: Several times on SS, the chocolates are Godiva. Also, each night the lunch and dinner menus for the next day are presented, while on Regent, you must watch the TV and wait minutes for it to scroll back around if you did not catch all of it. Lunch menus were not presented on TV, either. You had to actually go to the restaurant and read them outside the door. Overall feeling: On both SS trips, the feeling was more intimate, especially on Wind where they really tried to know you. Not much attempt was made at this on Voyager, but it is a lot larger. Crew on SS was much more polished, and the entire SS experience seemed more upscale. It is really hard to explain this one because it was an ambiance and a feeling, but I think the bad first impression and the inexperienced staff had a lot to do with it. Tours: SS tours were always escorted, while Regent ones were sometimes escorted. This often made a difference. Regent took a lot of effort in giving tours led by local guides and always tried to throw in a local treat for a tasting when possible. Regent needs to be more aware that on a six hour tour, guests might need to go to the restroom, and stops should be planned. Conclusion: both lines provide a nice all-inclusive experience. On each step up in size, the experience was less personal, though more amenities start coming with size. People that like good food and nice cabins and unusual experiences in exotic lands will enjoy either line. Trip Home I bought some water and Coke Light past the security check. This was a good thing since we were delayed well over an hour without liquids. Heathrow was tough. We arrived 80 minutes late, and I did make my flight to Chicago, even with 100 minute trip between gates. This included a couple of long walks with a bus ride in between. Allow 3 hours between flights when connecting here if at all possible. My flight to Chicago on British Airways had no issues, and I had video on demand. They served a couple of mediocre meals and did a few beverage services. I had to claim bags in Chicago and go through customs before boarding my American flight, but I arrived in Houston 30 minutes early. It had been a long day. Photos can be viewed at http://pictures.aol.com/galleries/debbieh103. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Review of Regent Seven Seas Navigator 11/16/07 - 11/26/07 - Western Caribbean This cruise was a sweepstakes win from an online travel agency with offices in Seattle & San Francisco. Although we had been on 35 previous cruises, we had ... Read More
Review of Regent Seven Seas Navigator 11/16/07 - 11/26/07 - Western Caribbean This cruise was a sweepstakes win from an online travel agency with offices in Seattle & San Francisco. Although we had been on 35 previous cruises, we had never been on a six star luxury ship. We were not disappointed. The cruise exceeded our expectations. This ship had less than 490 passengers, a nice change from the mega ships. Our suite was quite large and we especially enjoyed the large walk in closet and marble bathroom with separate tub and shower, as well as the large seating area. Pictures are here: http://travel.webshots.com/album/561591840wFLBoh We found the food very good and there was always a large selection to choose from, including simplicity foods, salt free foods, and low calorie meals on the menu. The menu could be accessed daily on the television. You were offered the choice of eating at the Portofino's buffet, the Compass Rose dining room as open seating, or private dining in your suite complete with table cloth, crystal and silverware. We opted for the buffet for breakfast and most lunches, and private dining in our suite for dinner. Since my husband does not care for Italian food, we did not partake of the Portofino's evening meal by reservation. I understand the food was quite good and the entertainment exceptional. We usually eat early at home, so the 7:00 PM dining was a bit unusual for us. Roy, one of the waiters in Portofino's had been chosen by the transatlantic passengers as the Navigator Idol (a take-off of American Idol). They were showing the contest on the TV, and he has an amazing voice. The ship was much smaller than those we had been on the past few years, but I liked the convenience of not having to walk very far to get to another part of the ship. The elevators were always available and empty, a nice change from the mega ships. The crew was friendly and most helpful. Although tips are included in the passage, we tipped the stewardess and waiters in the buffet a little extra on the last day. Our reasoning for this was that the dollar value has dropped and they are working for less than they signed on for. I liked no announcements during the day, other than the noon report from the bridge. I liked the fact that no photographers had a camera in your face every time you turned around. I also liked that the art auction was silent and not in your face. We visited the ports of Key West, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize, Santo Tomas, Coco Cay in Roatan, and over nighted in Cozumel. Weather was mostly good except for some rain in Belize and Guatemala. We did not take any tours, but just stayed in the port area, as we had visited most of these ports many times. Also, we are returning to these same ports in December on the Veendam. One thing that I didn't like was that embarking and disembarking in some ports was not the best for someone with a disability due to the steep steps. Those in wheelchairs were carried up and down them, but I was on a walker..so they carried the walker on up ahead, and then I pulled myself up on the railings. There was a lot of local entertainment in the port building in Santo Tomas, which we enjoyed very much. Especially the marimba band which can be seen here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_GHyD8JLKxI The internet cafe and library always had availability. A good supply of DVDs was available in the library 24 hours a day. I was disappointed in the merchandise available for purchase in the online shops. There were very few logo items. However, I understood why when on the last day of the cruise the shop operator said they were leaving the ship and someone else would be getting onboard when we docked. They said this is why they had not restocked the shelves and would be shipping back to their source all the items left in the shops. The entertainment on the ship was very good. We enjoyed the lectures, movies, and entertainers. The only problem was how late most of the shows started. 9:45 is late for us as we are not night owls. There were only about a dozen children on this voyage. They did have certain things planned for them to do, but they had no separate space as their own as on other larger ships. We loved this ship and would certainly recommend it to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We boarded the Voyager in Monte Carlo on November 3 and disembarked in Ft. Lauderdale on November 19. Our sixteen day journey included port stops in Barcelona (overnight), Valencia, Malaga, Casablanca, Agadir, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) ... Read More
We boarded the Voyager in Monte Carlo on November 3 and disembarked in Ft. Lauderdale on November 19. Our sixteen day journey included port stops in Barcelona (overnight), Valencia, Malaga, Casablanca, Agadir, Lanzarote (Canary Islands) and Funchal (Island of Madeira) and eight nights crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the southern route. The seas were moderate throughout most of our sixteen day journey. On only one night the show was canceled out of concern for the dancers' safety. And on that night I didn't think the ship rocked much at all. The temperatures ranged from the upper fifties in the evenings to the mid-seventies during the daytime. We experienced only one significant period of rainfall during the crossing; so the weather was near perfection. The ship was fully booked for both segments. On the Grand Crossing, ninety-five percent of the passengers were Regent repeaters, a testament to the quality of the Regent product and the importance of customer satisfaction in the luxury cruise segment of the cruise industry. The ship was in excellent condition. Our cabin on deck six was in great shape. The oh-so comfortable bed and luxurious linens made sleeping easy. We loved being on deck six because it was an easy walk to everything happening on the ship except the activities on deck eleven. The service on the ship was usually excellent with a number of very high moments and few lower ones. The entertainment was consistently quite good. And the food was excellent, the best we have experienced on our seven Regent cruises. We enjoyed all of the port stops. We toured most of them independently; but the two ship's tours we booked, a half-day tour of Valencia and a half-day tour of the Southern part of Lanzarote, were very good. This was our first crossing and it won't be our last. Regent booked the right amount of additional entertainment and enhancement lectures; so we had to make time to squeeze in an occasional nap. It is a real treat to stay put on the ship and enjoy the full ambience of a Regent experience. While we saw people of all ages on both segments, the demographic of this trip was the oldest we have seen on any cruise. The passengers were delightful. We met lots of interesting new friends. And we particularly enjoyed meeting a number of folks we had already "met" on the internet, stellar folks all. This cruise met or exceeded all of our high expectations in every respect. The most popular person on the ship seemed to be the Regent Cruise Consultant who was busy booking future cruises every moment of the day. We managed to squeeze into her office to book one, too. There was only one aspect of this cruise that was new to us. This is the first time we have cruised Regent since the company went all-inclusive. To us, this change brought immensely higher value to our cruise experience. We were particularly pleased to see that Regent includes a full range of high quality spirits under the all-inclusive umbrella. We asked that our cabin be stocked with Johnnie Walker Black scotch and 12 year old Glenlivet single malt scotch; and two one litre bottles were cheerfully and promptly provided. We didn't drink more because alcohol was included in the price of the cruise (If you know us you know that would be hard to do!). But we did drink differently as, apparently, did a large number of the passengers. We spent more time drinking and socializing in the lounges. This made the trip even more interesting and more fun. The entertainers love the change because they prefer performing for a nice sized audience rather than an empty room. And all the bartenders and waiters we talked to are happy with the change even though they are busier because the passengers are happy and the paperwork is history. We also noticed the change to all-inclusive has prompted a lot of passengers to try a wider range of drinks. I regularly heard all kinds of exotic drinks being ordered. My partner Fred joined that crowd. Things we missed. Though minor, there are several things we missed on this cruise that we have enjoyed on previous Regent cruises. The first is what I would call the "royal welcome aboard". When we have boarded the ship on previous Regent cruises, a uniformed officer welcomed us aboard at the top of the gangway and a waiter standing by his side immediately handed us a glass of champagne. We found this grand first impression, this special welcome, as delightful as it is impractical. The impractical part of it, of course, is juggling cameras, carry-on luggage and a glass of champagne at the same time. The "royal welcome" wasn't offered on either segment of this trip. Instead, a low level company staffer stood at the top of the gangway to say "welcome" and direct us to the Constellation Theatre to check in. When we entered the Theatre a waiter handed us a glass filled with an inch of champagne. Practical? Yes! Special? No! Another minor thing we missed on this cruise is having a team of two attend our cabin. Regent has switched to a solo cabin attendant system. The ship's officers we have queried about this say this isn't a cut but "a reorganization." They say it introduces a higher level of accountability to the system. I'm a skeptic about that. Under the new single attendant system it often takes longer to get our cabin serviced in the morning simply because the attendant can only do one cabin at a time. We are relatively early risers. On previous cruises we became accustomed to going down to breakfast in Compass Rose at 8:00 and returning to a cabin that had already been cleaned. No more. Let me be clear, our solo cabin attendant Heiden was perfection. We were totally satisfied with her service. We'd just like to see her have an assistant so the two could service the cabin more expeditiously. We also missed receiving an alphabetical list of passengers on each segment of the cruise. This really helps us sort out the full names of the delightful people we have met on the ship. Things we particularly appreciated. Attention to food quality was a focus on this cruise. Since the dining experience is very important to us, we really appreciated our interaction with both the Executive and Corporate chefs. They are delightful "people persons." They were present in all the dining venues and open and accessible to all passengers. They cheerfully and patiently answered everyone's questions and made it clear that they were striving daily to expand and improve the quality of the dining experience aboard the ship. They entertained even the pettiest complaints with interest and patience. They clearly set a tone that inspired and motivated the hospitality staff who worked for them. At the beginning of the cruise the dining experience in Signatures was off. The service was superb. But there were serious kitchen problems. The Executive and Corporate chefs had those problems corrected in a matter of days. We also appreciated the high standards of service we regularly experienced. All of the ship's crew appeared to be cheerfully eager to please. We pre-ordered a special breakfast early in the cruise. When we walked into Compass Rose the next morning, the waiters recognized us immediately and had our breakfast on the table within a matter of minutes. It just doesn't get any better! The bartender at the pool deck bar, Alfonso, knew our morning drink preferences on the second day of the cruise. (Yes, we ordered a Bloody Mary before lunch and gin and tonic after lunch!) Most of the waiters on the ship knew within a few days that my partner Fred wants fresh pepper on almost everything short of ice cream and I don't. Those are the touches that attract us to the "luxury cruise" experience! We only booked two of the ship's tours since we prefer to either book private tour guides or strike out on our own. But we really appreciated the fact that Regent used only half of the bus seats on the tours we booked. This insured (1) quick boarding, (2) a window seat for all and (3) a reduced chance of having to cope with "difficult" passengers. We experienced no "difficult" passengers and the tours were most enjoyable. And, among many other things I might mention, we particularly appreciated the persona of Knute, the ship's captain. As long as he keeps the ship afloat and running on schedule, we really don't need to meet or know anything about a ship's captain to keep us happy campers. But Knute made a huge positive impression on us. He was everywhere on the ship mingling genuinely with all of us and seeming to enjoy the cruise as much as we were. He didn't just have guests at "his table," though he, indeed, did that. He was often seen at dinner dining with guests at their tables. At lunch, he was regularly seen standing in line at the pool deck buffet filling his plate and then seeking out a welcoming table at which to dine. He was welcome at everyone's table! At special events he was seen standing in the crowd enjoying the fun with all the rest of us. And none of this was manufactured or "staged." It was totally genuine. It was a great pleasure to watch an extraordinary leader at work! His officers emulated his behavior. It made a difference. Finally, as a burn the candle at both ends kind of vacationer I particularly appreciated those five hours we gained cruising in a westerly direction. I needed the extra sleep! Low moments. I don't expect perfection on any cruise so I was delighted that there were only a few lower moments on this one. They all happened in the area of programming. The first occurred on our first evening aboard. There was no show scheduled for that night. I presume that is because Regent no longer hires enough performers to offer a theatre performance every night of the cruise. Sad, but hardly a deal breaker for us. Instead, we were invited to the Constellation Theatre for a thirty minute "presentation" which included the introduction of several Regent staffers and a five minute "teaser" by the Peter Terhune entertainers; in other words, twenty-five minutes of hype and one tune from the next night's show. Halfway through this I whispered to my friend sitting next to me "This is really tacky." She agreed. It was like inviting me over for dinner when your refrigerator is empty and spending the evening telling me what a great chef you are and how tasty the meal will be tomorrow. It wasted our time. It ruined the otherwise free evening the entertainers had to themselves. And it violated Regent's "no hype" policy. To top it off, the cruise director told us there would be no show that night "out of courtesy to our tired guests who boarded the ship directly from the airport." Give me a break! Most of us had gone to the effort and expense to arrive at the ship rested and ready for a show. Nobody bought her explanation. I was also disappointed in one of the enhancement lecturers. He was an excellent speaker with an impressive resume and apparently a very pleasant gentleman. But he was speaking on a variety of current public policy issues from a very partisan political prospective. His comments were red meat for those on his side of the country's current political divide. They loved him. But his comments were really cold water poured on those on the other side. Booking him was, in my opinion, unwise and unfair in that all passengers are paying the tab. This situation could have easily been avoided by either booking a journalist or some other commentator who would offer a more balanced presentation or a point and counterpoint duo. The lowest moment of the cruise occurred in the Constellation Theatre on our third night out. The pianist Pearl Kaufman performed that evening. She was magnificent. The theatre was packed, the audience thrilled by her performance. She was total class. She finished to a standing ovation. Then the cruise director strolled on stage. She thanked the Voyager Orchestra who had backed Kaufman and, of course, the artist herself. She then said "You know, there's one thing I haven't seen enough of on this cruise, hugging. I want you to hug the person who came with you." Then, "Now hug the person on the other side of you." And then, "Oh, no, boys. You aren't supposed to be doing that." How low rent! That kind of stuff might still get a laugh during happy hour at the Podunk Tavern. But it is totally inappropriate following a stellar performance like Kaufman's and for a luxury cruise ship audience. It was a wonderful cruise. I'd do it again in a heartbeat and will book a westerly crossing again when the opportunity presents itself. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Trip to Fort Lauderdale and Embarkation I booked this cruise after reading some people talk about it. I booked late in the game, so I had to take a category D guarantee to get a balcony. Regent has a fairly good single supplement policy, ... Read More
Trip to Fort Lauderdale and Embarkation I booked this cruise after reading some people talk about it. I booked late in the game, so I had to take a category D guarantee to get a balcony. Regent has a fairly good single supplement policy, and I went for 140% of a one person rate. I thought I had a girlfriend that was going, but she got laid off and took a new job in a week and a half's time, so I took advantage of the good price on this 3 nighter on the 2 for 1 single as a chance to sample Regent Navigator. By the time I got down to the cruise, it had not been long since I had done Regent Voyager Western Med in late October, so I was pretty excited. In addition, I had also just come from Silver Whisper Dubai to Mumbai a few days earlier with my husband, so I was also rather tired. I'm a travel agent, but I did pay full fare, less my commission for this trip and have paid a pretty penny for my 5 luxury cruises, so I hope the readers will consider me a reliable source and value the detail in this review. Other similar cruises have been one Silver Wind cruise, two Silver Whisper cruises, and one Regent Navigator cruise. I was not anxious for any overnights on this trip since I had been traveling a lot this fall and because it was going to be close to Christmas and my husband's mandatory vacation week when I got home. I took a non-stop Continental flight from Houston IAH to FLL same day, risking checking a big suitcase. I got down there plenty early and took the short trip to the Port Everglades terminal with a lovely gentleman driver from Jamaica. I have had well over 70 resort stays in Jamaica since 1992, and this gent and I had a lot to talk about. His conversation in the short drive was quite spiritual and touching, and I felt blessed to meet him. I arrived at 11:20 and was seated by the most lovely lady shortly after someone swiftly handled my bags. A few minutes later, here came Sue and Tom from my travel group. Sue is another agent that I have known since the early 90s online but had never met. Meeting them was a perk of this trip. I chatted with the couples next to me as we curiously debated what had come from the short dry dock before our cruise. Promptly at noon, they boarded by row, and we were marched into line by the lovely lady. We had our pics taken and handed over our passport . We boarded and received our champagne and were told we could dine on deck 10 while we waited for the suites to be ready. We had our choice of the Portofino's buffet or the Pool Grille. I chose the buffet, as the grille really had no seats available and I wanted to see what the buffet had anyway. There were about 25 people in line, but it did move along, and in a few minutes, I was seated with a nice plate and had lovely table service from the warm staff. My Ship Tour After that first lunch, I decided to self tour. I checked out all of the public areas. I checked out cabin 1125, a Navigator Suite. I liked it but was not overwhelmed by it by any means. I meandered along and saw the steward staff working so hard to ready things for us. I noted in the public areas that the layout was more unique than the Wind, Whisper, and Voyager. There were some cozy nooks and lounges that were a bit different, like the Navigator lounge. The casino was bigger than I was expecting. It is bigger than Whisper and I think as big as Voyager. They offer roulette, black jack, craps and some other games and also my fav, video black jack where I play with only the dealer and can change my betting amounts. The pool deck seemed a bit small, and the pool didn't seem to be in too good of shape with the faded wood, but when guests got around it and it had the real swimming water, it seemed much better. The deck did remain crowded on this short cruise, and often the hot tubs were double-stacked with guests sitting outside and inside. I did not get my usual time in, but the water was perfect in the hot tubs when I did get in. Other Thoughts on the Ship The spa had a relaxation room. It was small but serviceable and somewhere to sit and wait for the staff vs. the not great area on Voyager and the stellar area on the SS ships. The steam room was not large but was great with all of the appropriate amenities. The spa staff were all ready to help. The lounges tended to fill up completely. You did have to work a bit to get a pool deck table at a meal or a seat, but it was not very much effort to join someone or anything, and that was always a nice experience. There was so much charm to the ship, and I really loved how they had it decorated for Christmas. They pretty much had all the facilities you could want except perhaps one more specialty restaurant. There were a number of shops, and with the vendor losing their contract, everything was 50% to 75% off. I picked up some awesome Cartier sunglasses and a Regent polo shirt. Others in our group bought some clothes and jewelry. With the short cruise, they were busy when not in port and didn't have time to go look for additional sizes or styles of anything. I had a spa treatment on the first full day that I booked from the boarding special. It was two twenty minute treatments that they combined into one 45 minute treatment doing the facial and neck and shoulder massage. It was $79, and nobody even mentioned selling me a thing. I REALLY enjoyed this experience and recommend the spa. Look for deals, as the regular rates are over $3 a minute for most things. My Cabin I went to my cabin on my own, but I had taken the precaution of having nothing but my purse and laptop with me, and I didn't need assistance. I was in cabin 840, a portside category D. The cabin had the Aveda amenities. As expected, it had the single marble sink, plenty of shelves, a tub that was long and thin with a shower head in it and a separate shower stall elsewhere in the bathroom. Also, there was a walk-in closet with plenty of drawers and hangers, a bed with an inviting duvet and a full sized couch. Recently added that cruise only were the new LCD TVs. These were nice, but the old marks on the table were there from the CRT TVs, and the reception was not HD. The cabin had a DVD player. An advantage of Regent Voyager and Navigator has been the full sized couch that I really enjoy. Mine had two huge black stains the size of quarters that shouldn't have been there after dry dock, but they did not bother me too much. My closet had a safe that had the number pad totally ripped off and hanging two inches out, and the whole label was ripped in two. This didn't really bother me, either as I have never felt unsafe on Regent for a minute. This should also not have been found after dry dock. There was the dressing table and the desk, both with European and US plugs and plenty of lighting throughout. I had plenty of glasses and was greeted with the welcome champagne. My stewardess arrived promptly to introduce herself and the suite and ask for liquor preferences, if any. She did not seem too knowledgeable on policies or offerings on anything, but she was professional and mature in answering. The suite had a nice balcony. I discovered on the second day when trying to sit in chair two that it was totally ripped in two. They took it and did not replace it. I did enjoy my balcony, though I found the door hard to open. It had a definite technique to it that took two hands, but it was consistent with me, so I learned the first time. I was never short on glasses, and I always had good turndown and morning service from my stewardess. She was fairly non-instrusive. I had a lovely time relaxing in this suite, and it was very cozy for me in the time I spent there. I wish the cruise had been longer so I could have laid around more (and spent more time with my companions). In addition, wifi from the cabin worked just great. One addition to my cabin was a lovely door sign that I received from Beth, a member of the LCT unofficial group with which I was traveling. I felt special every time I walked up. Guests of Regent Navigator This was the crown jewel of this Navigator cruise. I heard about this cruise from Beth and then Diane, members from a popular online board. Then I booked the cruise after studying it and found a number of others would be on board, including Sue, someone I have known online since the early 90s but had never met. I met Sue 15 minutes after arrival to the cruise terminal, and I really felt blessed from the short times we spent together, and I enjoyed meeting her husband and friends. I also met Beth, Diane, Crystal, Wes, and Ida from the internet. I can't even describe how fabulous all of them are. Along the way, I spent a lot of time with them and also some people we met - Callen, Coleen, Stuart, Stephanie, Adrien, another Diane, Scott and Joe. Each of these people touched me in different ways, and some down to my core. You never know when you have a conversation with someone where they are in their lives, and sometimes just a few sentences or one deep conversation really has a long-term affect on someone. Bright lights, please keep shining and touching people's lives. It is all worth it. I also met Rose and some others at the Stars disco nights and had a barrel of fun in dancing with them until the wee hours every night. We did see a few kids, and I had one enlightening conversation with a 7 year old in the hot tub. They were part of their families and did not wreck anyone's time in any way. With the short cruise, the average demo seemed to be in the 35 to 55 range, so we saw people out and about, though there were people from childhood to 80s, and all were great and having fun. The ship did feel full, and there were some that a few times seemed like the bubba crowd on some rare and short occasions like the lifeboat drill, but it was pretty much a non-issue. Dining All of us solo ladies ended up together every meal, and now and then, we had a couple and/or some single gents with us. The food was always good, as was the company. Portofino's was where I always had breakfast. It was easy to go there and just join others from our group. I typically had fruits, along with tea and maybe some eggs and that fabulous crispy bacon they need to bring to my house. It was Americanized, but so was the clientele. For lunch at Portofino's, there was always a hot and cold soup. I really enjoyed a curried soup I had one day, and I know there was another good one I had. I love soups on ships and at resorts, and nothing was salty or cold. One day, I had some incredible rainbow trout. There were always 3 or 4 entrees, many tasty salads and fruits and pastas made up and also to order. They had a few desserts, but I am not really a dessert person. I saw others enjoying. Wines were OK, and service was good. One day, I tried the Tex Mex on the pool grille. I sat in a pool lounger but later joined others from our group. It was neither Tex or Mex, but I did enjoy the vegetarian soft taco and salad I made up. The sweet boiled ribs were not to my taste. Others not so critical did enjoy. Other dining choices were readily available. For dinner, two nights, we were at Compass Rose. I picked steamed mussels from the appetizers and asked for an entrEe portion the first night and had lobster the other night. I didn't like the lobster sauce and didn't eat it, but others loved it, and I was full from all the other outstanding courses. I loved the appetizers, soups and salads. I always do and don't ever really need an entrEe. I saw some huge, well prepared steaks and such that delighted some of my tablemates, and the most unusual was the "iceberg salad with olives" that Scott ordered that had no lettuce and at least 30 olives. He ate them all, and he looked a little green afterward, but he rallied on to the entrEe and dessert. Our dinner in Portofino's included 16 of us at 3 tables that we prereserved. We started out with the European meats and cheese, along with the wine tastings. Guests and staff mingled here for 30 minutes. Then we went in to the dining room. We could not get our 3 tables together, but we got up and checked on each other throughout the meal (I hope we didn't bother anyone). A couple of our bunch participated. Adrien did the tambourine, and Ida kicked and danced, while Callen pointed to his table at the wrong time and led the staff into believing he and Coleen should be the recipients of an anniversary cake. After Coleen blew out the candle, the cake was literally ripped from their arms. It was all good, and we had a fantastic time chatting and joking about it after the freshly prepared meal. The entertainment was great, with Vincenzo sounding more like Sinatra than Sinatra. I was exposed to the puckering Limencello for the first time, too. Diane, the model and I wanted something else besides the entrees they had, and we were accommodated to my surprise. I did enjoy the petit fours at Compass Rose, with a particular nod to the tiny canoe-shaped fruit tarts. Activities With the cruise being only 3 nights, people were socializing a lot. We had a few activities when not in port - chatting on the pool deck (yeah!), talking on the internet, doing trivia and bingo, gambling and shopping, and dancing the night away. I loved all of these activities and really bonded with people sharing them. In the ports, I had my two days doing shortish outings with Beth. We did the aquarium in Key West and walked around some. We both went out again later but not together. In Nassau, we cabbed over to Atlantis on Paradise Island and took pics of the public areas and tried our luck a bit. Entertainment I went to both of the production shows. I really liked the Vintage Vegas and the Motown shows. I know Stuart wasn't in love with the Vegas show, and some others were not as enamored as I was. I was right up front, and I enjoyed having the costumed shows. They also had a staff show and another entertainer. I did not make those. The girl doing the disco was a delight. She seemed to have some issues with the equipment to overcome, but we did enjoy not singing karaoke and dancing and chatting up there in Stars anyway. They had a Beatlemania live show where they did not sound like them at all, and the dancing to music was better afterward. Disembarking and Trip Home I had a nice last breakfast with Adrien and said goodbye to Sue. I ran into Diane, and she and I shared a cab to the airport. I was pretty early and chatted with a couple for 30 min. and then boarded my non-eventful flight back to Houston. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
Overview: The Mariner has still proven to me to be a memorable experience. It was my third time on the ship. The 1st time in 2001 I went to the Caribbean, the 2nd time was to Mexico in 2005, and this time was through the Panama Canal. All ... Read More
Overview: The Mariner has still proven to me to be a memorable experience. It was my third time on the ship. The 1st time in 2001 I went to the Caribbean, the 2nd time was to Mexico in 2005, and this time was through the Panama Canal. All of these cruises were over Christmas and this latest one was Christmas and New Years. *Please Note* I am a 15-year-old teenager. My review may not be as intellectual as others but this is just based from my experience, and I have gone on 11 cruises including this one--so I have experience. 6 of my cruises have been on Regent. Embarkation: The cruise before us was coming from Asia and had some extremely bad weather, which delayed the ship 5 hours. We were notified 5 days before embarkation (December 21) so we had the whole day to do nothing. We were supposed to arrive at the Los Angeles port around noon and board the ship at 1 PM. Luckily for us, we live in L.A., so we were not in a hotel, waiting for ship transportation. The cruise line had shuffled people around in different nearby hotels and they were not notified as clearly as others about the delay of the ship. The new time for embarkation was around 7 PM. We arrived at the L.A. port at around 6:20, the porters took our luggage, and we went into the terminal, which was quite busy. Now one thing that I heard negatively was that the clerks at the check-in counter were unorganized and slow. This is not the cruise lines fault. These people do not work for Regent. Those people work for whatever ship they are boarding. Our embarkation went smoothly, we were on the ship within a half hour of getting to the dock. *To future guests* Seeing as a ship being delayed 5 hours is VERY rare, my previous experiences have always been very smooth embarkation, rarely any waiting, and when you are on the ship you get your bags very quickly. Also, when you board the ship, the crew is there to greet you, hand you a nice glass of champagne, and directs you to your suite, which is usually ready when you board. Ship: The ship is 50,000 tons and holds 700 passengers. It's not a monster ship but it's not a small one either. It has many public rooms that serve as multiple purposes, strategically placed for different activities. There are 6 elevators: 3 glass ones that look out over the atrium, and 2 regular ones in the back of the ship. Deck 5 has 2 restaurants: Compass Rose and Latitudes, with the atrium staircase going up to deck 7. Deck 5 is also home to the bottom level of the show lounge (the Constellation Theatre), Reception, Travel Concierge, and the Mariner Lounge, a nice place to sit in before dinner. Deck 6 holds the top level of the theatre, the Stars Disco Lounge, Club.Com—the computers, Library, Garden Promenade, the newest edition--The Coffee Connection, Horizon Lounge that overlooks the back of the ship, Card & Conference room, and Signatures, another restaurant. Deck 7 is the lowest deck with suits, but suites are only on half of it. The rest is the Spa, Gym, Shops, and Casino. Decks 8-10 are all guest rooms (Deck 10 is the bridge too). Deck 11 holds the pool and Jacuzzi's, and La Verandah, mainly a breakfast and lunch restaurant but has Italian or Mediterranean at night. Deck 12 has a paddle tennis court, golf nets, walking track (only 11 laps to a mile!), Shuffleboard, bocce, and the Observation Lounge, a beautiful room overlooking the bow of the ship. Since this was a Holiday cruise, they also had nice Christmas Trees and Gingerbread houses around the ship. Suites/Accommodations: Who ever came up with the idea that every stateroom has a balcony (AND A VIEW) was a genius. Not only does the lowest costing room get you a balcony, there are no obstructed views, as all the lifeboats are below deck 7. Every room has a walk-in closet, TV w/ DVD player; a refrigerator with soft drinks and bottled water, a fresh fruit basket and flowers refreshed every day. Our cabin number was 955, and it was a standard suite, nice size. The standards suites can be either 1) a 3-person room where the couch comes out to a bed or 2) Have a separate shower instead of the shower/bathtub combination. Regent is now "all-inclusive", which is nice. Probably a lot nicer for older people who drink alcohol unlike myself but this now means all drinks are included, (Unless you buy a more expensive bottle of wine at dinner) and no extra costs. Gratuities are included. The only extra costs are for personal items of course, ie. Shore excursions, Photos, Boutique purchases, etc. The library was cut down due to the installation of the Coffee Connection so its supply of books is limited. It also holds a large DVD library, but they could buy a lot more DVD's, newer releases!! On the in-suite television—which has now been changed to flat screens—they have limited channels due to the reception they can get. Since my cruise was over New Years, we were questioning the reception we would get for the big football games. So many people requested for the Rose Bowl, they ended up showing the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and a few others. They were in the room TV's along with the big theatre where they served hot dogs, popcorn, chips, etc. One thing that probably separates Regent from the big thing is the number of announcements. In the morning you might catch the cruise director giving an announcement talking about the days activities, and at sea days at noon you will always here the captain come on and talk about the weather and our location, but that's IT. They started a new way of showing announcements—on the television. Every day, you can hear all about the announcements (in more detail then in the daily program) on channel 1—Mariner Today. Other channels include 3 movie channels, that they show 3 different movies every day. They also receive Fox News, CNN, ESPN, and a few others (reception permitting). Entertainment: Daytime entertainment: The entertainment in the morning/afternoon has always been very top notch. This was no different on this cruise. It is instructed by the social staff--the singers and dancers from the Broadway cast. They are all extremely nice and make all of the activities fun. All the activities vary whether you are in port or at sea but range from Bingo to Bocce Ball to Ping pong tournaments to Trivia to inside mini golf tournaments. They feature 2-3 lectures a day on various topics that relate to our surroundings and even though I do not attend, I heard very good things about them. They show a movie in the theatre every day—attendance is never very large but they do have popcorn that makes the deck smell good. ? Evening Entertainment: Peter Grey Terhune is Regent's Broadway Company that produces shows for all of their ships. They have always done an excellent job with that and continue to do so. The cast consists of 4 singers and 6 dancers. They performed 3 big Broadway shows on my cruise. The first one was "Ballroom Bravo", a dancing sensation including two world-champion ballroom dancers that came from Russia. The second was "Harmony", a show that mainly featured the singers, and the third was "Broadway in Concert", a big Broadway show with lots of favorite Broadway music. The Regent Signature Orchestra backs up every song, at every show. They have a few solo artists that play in lounges, which are all very nice. However, one point that the evening entertainment slacked in was the alternative performances. They had 2 comedians, a magician, a pianist, and 2 vocalists. All of which were very talented but lacked a certain "pizzazz". I know that the cast does a lot of work performing but if they could add just one more show, it would make up for the so-so other entertainment. Children's Club: Club Mariner is only offered on select cruises and is really not given enough credit. Yes, if you do not go in the holiday season or the summer there are going to be NO children on board. HOWEVER, if you go over the Holiday season there will be at least 40+ kids on board, no doubt. On my cruise there were about 50 passengers ranging in age 1-18. (21 is the legal drinking age on Regent.) The children that came to the kids club are delightful, well-mannered children and the counselors are the best. During port days they have certain hours that they have activities, usually 2 hours in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 2 at night. On sea days they extend them so that children have more to do. They sort out fun activities like board game tournaments, beaded creature making, movie nights, and even cookie decorating in the galley. Those activities are for children ages 5-12, they do not allow children under 5 into Club Mariner without an adult present at all times. For teens 13-17, they offer the same times in the day, with slightly varied activities (in the same location as the children) but they are very flexible with what the teens want to do. My 2 youth counselors Carlie and Donna were very nice and fun. The only drawback of Club Mariner on a cruise line like Regent's is that they are not prepared for children. During the day our activities take place in the Stars Disco lounge (because it is not used in the day) and at night we are put into the conference room. They are both fine locations but they could really step it up a notch if they were to build a new ship (which is in the talking stages), at least make some kid friendly facilities and use them for storage when its not time for kids. Service: Service on Regent is perfect. On some cruise lines the waiters forget about you, and on some they are right next to you, watching every move you make, waiting to help you. I can't stand EITHER of those, so I'm lucky Regent is right in the middle. If the waiter sees you need help they help you but you are free to do what you want, when you want, wherever you want. They are always prompt. The room service does not take long for delivery and the cabin stewardess does a very quick and efficient job. They are all very happy, smiling, and will do anything to please you. Ports/Shore Excursions: We had 5 ports of call on our ship, as it was mainly an "at-sea" cruise. Our first port was San Diego, California. This was kind of like the first day because it was 1) an American port 2) Lots of people embarked here instead of L.A. and 3) This was the night we had the lifeboat drill and sail away party. San Diego was a good place to get any last minute items you needed, they had a free 10-minute shuttle ride to Horton Plaza, the big mall in San Diego, and of course you could hit the Zoo, SeaWorld, and the Naval Ship across the water. Our next stop was Cabo San Lucas. We arrived later in the afternoon, around 1 PM and were only staying until 6 PM unlike San Diego where we stayed all day. When I was in Cabo my dad and I took a boat from the pier to the bay and ate at the Office restaurant on the beach, then went back to the ship. Cabo is a very nice port for shopping and tourist things but I have been there many times so it didn't interest me to shop. After Cabo we went down to Puerto Chiapas. This was by-far one of the worst ports I have ever been too. They have 9 cruise ships a year—which basically states they are NOT ready for the rush of people. At the dock there is a small little mall that has a few small nice shops and a big arena in the middle to watch some traditional dancing. That whole thing is very nice, but then they offer a shuttle that goes down town. Why we took it I do not know, but it was just not a place you want to go when you are on a luxury cruise. Our next stop was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. This was the one port we decided to take a shore excursion in. We got off the ship onto a nice air-conditioned coach bus and took an hour drive up to a park, where we went on a Sky-Walk Rainforest and suspended bridge tour. It was very beautiful to see but could have been a little more exciting. The Panama Canal Transit is technically not a port but I will talk about it anyway. When the canal pilot isn't driving, he comes on the intercom to tell you about the next lock or some of the history of the canal. It's a very fascinating voyage. The whole canal takes about 8 hours to go through and you can watch it many different ways in any of the public room windows. Our final stop was in Cartagena, Columbia. We only stopped here because legally, since we went through the Panama Canal, we had to stop in a South American country since we were now in the Atlantic Ocean. I did not get off the ship in Cartagena but I heard mixed reviews about it. You had to find a cheap taxi into town, and then there was some good shopping. You can buy some nice jewelry and Columbian coffee, but the cab could be as much as $40 each way, and it was about a 7-minute drive. Overall the ports on this cruise were not the best, but the days at sea made up for them. The ship is full of things to do and there is never really a need to get off even when you are at port. Food: There are 4 main restaurants on the Mariner. The Compass Rose is the main dining room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (but really shines in dinner). La Verandah serves all 3 as well but shines in its breakfast and lunch. Le Cordon Bleu sets itself up in Signatures, the alternative-reservation only French restaurant. And finally, you can indulge in Indochina style cuisine at Latitudes, another reservation only restaurant. I have never eaten at the Compass Rose for breakfast or lunch but that is only because La Verandah is a buffet while the Compass Rose is a sit-down lunch. At dinnertime in the Compass Rose you are welcome to dine whenever you want—the dining room opens at 7 and seats until around 9. You can eat by yourself or dine with other guests, but you are not assigned to a certain table/waiter/fellow guests/time to eat. The Compass Rose menu is very well laid-out and the back page even has a "Light and Healthy" section, a "Vegetarian" section, "No Added Salt", and "Simplicity" which has plain chicken, pasta, salmon etc. La Verandah has a fabulous breakfast buffet, however, it stays the same every-day. They have 2 large buffets with fruit, pastries, cereals, hot items like bacon and eggs, someone toasting bread/bagels, etc. They also have 2 custom-made omelet chefs that deliver your omelets right to your table. At lunchtime you can find almost ANYTHING from roasted turkey to spiral ham to spaghetti. They have a large salad bar and even have mini sandwiches. Another lunchtime option is the Pool Grill where you can get the basics; Hamburger, Hot Dog, and fun stuff like Cajun Chicken Sandwich, grilled shrimp sandwich, and many other options. They deliver them right to your table and are very quick and efficient. Finally, almost every day they have a lunchtime buffet outside. Every day it has a theme and every day the theme is different. One day it will be "Tex-Mex", the next "Champagne and Lobster Brunch" and even "German Bratwurst" day. Those are all delightfully laid out and always delicious. For dinnertime at La Verandah you can find either Italian Steakhouse or Mediterranean Cuisine. (They change it halfway through the cruise) I prefer the Italian Steakhouse much more, but both are very nice. The first part is a wonderful buffet and the next course is served to you, whether it be chicken, steak, or fish. Signatures is my least favorite restaurant but it is still VERY GOOD. They are an all-French cuisine restaurant that serves delicious food like duck, lamb, escargot, foie gras, etc. It is an amazing presentation and the service in there is very nice. Latitudes is the Asian restaurant, my 2nd favorite. Half of the cruise they are "Indochina" which is just a fancy word for Asian and the other half they were "Thai". I did not get to try the "Thai" menu but I heard it was just O.K. The presentation in Latitudes is impeccable. It's a very small restaurant and only holds about 20 tables. They serve the whole menu to you in small portions—no ordering. All the food at "Indochina" is incredible, amazing taste and you can get more of anything you want. The newest edition to the Mariner is The Coffee Connection, a delightful little coffee shop in the middle of the garden promenade. It is no charge for any specialty coffee drinks, and it's really like a Starbucks at sea. They have a large refrigerator that holds bottled water and sodas that passengers can use at any time. On the side of the Coffee Connection is a small buffet that they use for snacks. During the morning they have fruit, pastries, cereal, and bagels. During the afternoon they change it to fruit and cookies. Around the corner is the high-tech latte machine open 24/7 and juice and cookies always available. Last note on food, room service is available 24 hours a day. During dinner hours you can order anything from the Compass Rose menu into your suite, and they have a large menu. It comes promptly and efficiently, and they come in and set it up for you. Overall: Regent has never shown me something that would not make me want to come back. I plan on going on my next cruise on Regent and I know I will have a good time. The service, food, ship, and overall experience is like no other. They really out-do themselves on multiple levels Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We began our 19-day cruise on Regent Mariner December 3-21, 2007 with a flight from LAX to Auckland on Air New Zealand in Premium Economy. The service was excellent and the flight passed quickly. We spent two days seeing the lovely city, ... Read More
We began our 19-day cruise on Regent Mariner December 3-21, 2007 with a flight from LAX to Auckland on Air New Zealand in Premium Economy. The service was excellent and the flight passed quickly. We spent two days seeing the lovely city, staying at the Sky City Hotel courtesy of Regent, and arrived at the nearby cruise terminal at noon. We quickly were welcomed aboard with champagne, given our keys and offered lunch in the Verandah Cafe. Upon arrival there, we were pleased to see our favorite waiter, Gerry, and spent a few minutes catching up on his family, before enjoying a terrific lunch. The Ship Our room, a penthouse C, soon was available, and we were pleased with its midship location and size. The penthouse C's have larger square footage than the regular suites, and we really enjoyed the expansive living area and verandah. The C category suites differ from Penthouse A and B only in that they do not have butler service, which we really don't use. Because we were Silver level with Regent, we had free internet and one hour free phone time. The wireless internet worked very well in the room. The only change we would make is the television, which worked but had very limited channels. However, we used the DVD player on the few instances we wanted to watch something. The room stewardess, Donna, arrived quickly and brought our requests for extra pillows, and bar setup. She did an excellent job of maintaining the cabin during the entire cruise, with a friendly and efficient attitude. Regent Mariner, which accommodates 700 passengers, was in excellent shape, with the new coffee bar always humming with activity, the internet area active, the Horizon Lounge busy for tea, trivia and bingo. The honor system library was fully-stocked with books and DVDs. Everywhere we went we were greeted by friendly staff, and the passenger contingent was pleasant and well traveled. We were so pleased to meet up with passengers with whom we've cruised Regent before, and meet new friends. We encountered no small children aboard. Food Another highlight of the entire cruise was the quality and variety of food which sets Regent apart from other lines. Dinner in Compass Rose, the main dining room, was excellent and had a varied menu with well-sized portions. Wines from the complimentary wine list completed each meal. A special reserve wine list, for an extra charge, also is available. CR continues to be our favorite restaurant onboard. Although it is open seating, we would ask to be seated at one of Gerry's tables. His service is absolutely top-notch and personalized. We cannot commend him enough. Besides CR and the Verandah Cafe, Regent has two other dinner venues available, at no additional charge. We ate in the alternative restaurant, Latitudes, twice during the cruise. First, the Indian themed dinner was outstanding. The menu then changed to Polynesian, which was interesting. The final week of the cruise the theme was Thai. Signatures, the Cordon Bleu restaurant was, as usual, excellent and service was first rate. Each day at lunch, a special poolside buffet was featured. This included a French lunch (fresh grilled foie gras, filet mignon and huge prawns), a German lunch (wiener schnitzel, sausages, smoked pork), and seafood, (crab legs, oysters, shrimp, grilled fish). All lunches included wonderful desserts and, of course, ice cream. On the last day, a special holiday lunch buffet was served, which included roast turkey and goose with stuffing and all the trimmings, as well as authentic German Christmas desserts and a huge gingerbread house. Santa himself made an appearance, and many of the staff wore Santa hats, adding to the festive atmosphere. Of course, Regent being all- inclusive, any drinks or beverages were available gratis. Excursions and Activities Our cruise first took us from Auckland to the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. There we took the Maori Cultural Experience excursion, which was a fabulous tour. It was guided by a Maori resident, who explained many of his ancestral beliefs, myths, and cultural activities. The highlight of the trip was a visit to a Maori marae, where we were welcomed by the elders of the community in an ancient Maori ceremony, which was moving and inspiring. We highly recommend this excursion. Other ports included Rarotonga, Bora Bora, Moorea, Papeete, and Nuku Hiva. We had a bit more rain during the cruise than expected, but it did not put a damper on the fun! We enjoyed an excursion riding wave runners around the Blue Lagoon in Bora Bora with friends, and the guides provided a great fun tour of the island as well as a stop on a motu for fresh coconut, bananas and pineapple. We also did a private ship excursion Bayliner Sunset cruise with the same friends around the Blue Lagoon, complete with champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a ukulele-playing boat driver. Watching the sunset while cruising the beautiful Blue Lagoon (and around the ship) with our driver singing was a truly unique experience! Bora Bora is a place we definitely will not forget. Although it was raining on Moorea, the snorkeling and stingray excursion was excellent. The stingrays were friendly and very active, and the beautiful coral and tropical and exotic fish were breathtaking. We explored Rarotonga and Papeete on our own. The shops and markets are easily accessible. We found the people on all the islands very friendly and welcoming, and the scenery stunning. Regent put on a special activity for all guests on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. The festival/cultural experience with carving, weaving and food demonstrations, along with music and dancing was lovely, despite the rain. Food was cooked in pits in the ground and a large buffet was served. Local craftspeople displayed their wares for purchase, including pareos, pearl jewelry, weaving and wooden carvings. All in all, an enjoyable experience. The schedule then had 6 sea days, but the time passed quickly with the many activities onboard. There were games, needlepoint, art classes, computer instructions and ballroom dance lessons. Speakers on this cruise were excellent, ranging from a former Washington Post reporter who lectured on the Middle East, a former British MP who spoke on intelligence and spies and spycraft during World War II and the Cold War. Another wonderful speaker was an archeological historian who spoke on the history of religion and its archeological evidence, and a former actor/sportscaster who spoke on his career. The Cordon Bleu cooking class was wonderful. This was the second time we have taken the course, and Chef Gilles from the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa was fantastic! The course now has been expanded to be a Circle of Interest course and is longer and more detailed than the previous courses. We had three extensive but fun classes learning techniques and cooking skills. We actually cooked up three excellent meals, which we enjoyed with wine following our work. A graduation dinner with special menu crafted by Chef Gilles took place at Signatures on our last evening. We highly recommend this course to anyone who loves food. Evening entertainment on the ship varied from Broadway productions to classical music. One innovation was a Dancing with the Stars contest with passengers taking partners from the dance hosts and entertainers. The contest dance-offs were the best attended entertainment as audience members cheered on their favorites. The quality of dancing was terrific and we congratulate the winners, who were awesome! Because we crossed the Equator on the trip, a special "baptism" of those who had not crossed before was conducted poolside. Actually the crew was "baptized," the passengers just watched and laughed. Now all aboard are official "Shellbacks" and were presented with a special certificate. In addition, one afternoon the crew put on a special Country Fair, with booths and activities. It was great fun as passengers threw water balloons, raced cars, and threw hoops etc in the booths to try to win prizes. The crew was enthusiastic and great sports, and the fair was a highlight of the crossing. Additional Information Because of crosswinds and a slight problem with a tender being raised onto the ship, we were slightly behind schedule in arriving in Los Angeles. We were scheduled to dock at 9am, but actually docked at 2pm. Regent really stepped up in this situation, especially because it was the weekend before Christmas. They sent passengers a letter three days before advising them of the change. Regent immediately changed travel arrangements for all those traveling on Regent air. In addition, they offered to reimburse for any changes incurred for any traveler who had to alter plane or other travel. The Travel Desk was helpful in making changes, and all guests were given free internet time and free phone time to contact family, make additional arrangements or changes. This customer service truly is one reason Regent has such a loyal following. Overall, this was a fantastic, relaxing cruise with excellent service, food and accommodations. Regent continues to be first-rate in customer service. We recommend Regent to anyone who wants to experience all-inclusive luxury cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was our third cruise on Mariner (Alaska and Panama Canal before) and fifth on RSSC (Voyager in the Baltic, plus Rome to Ft Lauderdale) but our first since the all-inclusive policy went into effect, and since the up-grading of the ship ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Mariner (Alaska and Panama Canal before) and fifth on RSSC (Voyager in the Baltic, plus Rome to Ft Lauderdale) but our first since the all-inclusive policy went into effect, and since the up-grading of the ship in drydock. We live in Switzerland and chose to fly via KLM/AF so first went to Amsterdam where we spent the night, taking the 1000 flight the next day to Lima. At Schipol we stayed at the Airport Sheraton which was excellent, quiet and located about 20m from the main airport concourse. Our flight to Lima was on time and we were met at the Lima airport by a rep. from Lima Tours. (We had decided to plan our own pre- and post-cruise programmes using a London travel agency and their land operator in Peru was Lima tours.) We were taken to a mini van (three of us were travelling - myself and my husband and a friend) and it took about 45 minutes to get to San Isidro and the Country Club Hotel. The hotel is lovely to look at from the outside, but in serious need of re-decorating in the rooms, especially the bathrooms. Nonetheless with a room overlooking the golf course we had a nice view! Lima tours set up a private sightseeing for us in Lima, with an excellent guide (Betty) who took us to the old town and also to Miraflores. The next day we were on our own for the day and went back to Miraflores for lunch at the Rosa Nautica. If I were to go to Lima again I think I would book a hotel in Miraflores as there is heaps more to see and do there than in San Isidro, which is mostly residential. Unfortunately I got a bad dose of food poisoning either at the lunch or that evening at the hotel. I don't know which. I was unable to travel to Cusco the next day as planned and Lima tours came up trumps! They booked us at the Country Club for an additional night, and arranged for our friend to travel alone to Cusco and then Machu Picchu. Once I felt better they organized a flight for us to Cusco (at no additional cost!) and three nights at the Monasterio instead of two. They also set up a full day sightseeing with private car and driver to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for us while we waited for our friend to return from Machu Picchu. Our guide in Cusco, Luis, was superb. he also took us to the Sacred Valley. I think Lima tours is just the best local operator I have ever encountered!! We spent the last night before the cruise in Lima, back at the Country Club but this time in a room overlooking the pool of the "real" country club. This was very very noisy in January and I would recommend asking for a room overlooking the golf course. Lima tours then transferred us to Callao and the Mariner. We left the hotel at noon and were on board by 12.30, glass of sparkling wine in hand (RSSC says champagne - but it is Cremant de la Loire. Not bad, but not champagne!) At the check in we were astounded to run into people from Geneva we have known for years! Having them on board made for an even greater cruise. We went up to la Veranda for lunch and then settled down to wait in the Observation Lounge until 2.30 for our suite to be ready. To our surprise after about 10 minutes someone came to fetch us and to bring us to the suite!! Our suitcases were already on the bed, waiting to be unpacked. How smooth is that?? Our butler -Pritam - and stewardess Ann came by to say hello. Ann was terrific, but Pritam is simply the best! He went out of his way to make our cruise wonderful and nothing was a problem for him. I wanted to take him home with me at the end!! I really like the re-decoration of the suite. Without too many changes it seemed "smoother" and more modern than before. And the space in the PH suites on Mariner is fabulous. The Voyager PH suites are far smaller though their bathrooms are better and closets larger. Sadly the flat screen TV had not yet materialized! The first evening we had a cocktail party in Stars Nightclub for the members of our Circle of Interest - The Falklands Conflict, led by Commodore Jamie Miller and his lovely wife Linda. Jamie was simply a terrific leader and getting to know him and Linda was great fun. We had a nice dinner in Compass Rose that night. We love the Compass Rose's offers of "tried and true dishes" if you happen not to want anything on the menu. My husband is particularly partial to Bearnaise sauce so we "treated" ourselves to the filet mignon with Bearnaise the first night. The new all-inclusive policy is just great. We had many more cocktails in the various bars than in our suite, and it made getting to know other people very nice indeed. The first port was Pisco. I choose to skip the excursion since I was still feeling tired from the illness in Lima. However my husband and our friend went to the Ballesteros Islands and had a great time. Leaving Pisco our Captain (Alfredo Romeo aka as "me from the bridge"!!) took the ship on a different course so we could all see the famous "Candelabra" etched into the hillside. Very impressive. Our first sea day (I love sea days!) introduced us to the lecturers we would have for the rest of the voyage: Terry Breen - yippee! - being her usual wonderful self and telling us all about the countries, peoples and customs as we went along. Dr. Sheldon Simon from Arizona, speaking on US NAtional Security issues - absolutely excellent!, and a "ports" lecturer, John Tabbut-McCarthy, who was very competent and I think "told it like it is" so you knew exactly what to expect. The other lecturers - Edwina Currie, speaking on British politics and Jean-Michel Cousteau speaking on supposedly the sea but actually anything that he wanted to - started their series later. We are really disappointed with Jean-Michel Cousteau. he never talked about the topic that had been announced and he plugged his foundation unmercifully. It was particularly hard for us because someone from his foundation had spoken on our Panama Canal cruise in 2005 and she had been excellent! Well, there you go - win some, loose some! We tend not to go to the evening shows very often, but except for one (which was too loud for me!) those we did go to, we enjoyed. Antofagasta was the first Chilean port. We had a terrible tour with a terrible guide and learnt little about the town. Admittedly there is not a whole lot to see, but had a tour been arranged with lectures at a mining company we could have learnt a lot about the copper industry in Chile. My husband now refers to this town as "Antoforgetta". Valparaiso was lovely. We had our own tour here with car and guide and were able to go where we wished, which included a stop at a lapis lazuli jewelers in Vina del Mar for me! Getting into Patagonia we stopped in Puerto Montt and took the excursion to the Emerald Lake. The little cruise on this absolutely stunning, green lake was very nice. After that we visited the Petrohue waterfalls. This involved walking around 15 minutes and being literally attacked by very large horse flies who apparently love dark colors. I was wearing a black sweater! If you take this tour be warned - where light colors!! We then had a late (very late) lunch at a nice place situated between two snow-capped volcanoes and looking down to a lake. The lunch was so-so but the Pisco sours great! This tour really gave us an idea of how lovely this part of Patagonia is. It was, however, rather long and most of us wanted to go straight back to the ship after lunch (by then 4pm) but some diehards insisted on a stop at a little town where they could shop. I slept in the bus! At Puerto Chacabuco we opted for the "Patagonia in Depth" nature walk. We had a fabulous guide and learnt a lot about their plants. I did not realize that this tour also included a BBQ and by the time we had finished the walk I was ready to return to the ship. (My fault - I should have printed the tour description and taken it with me!) I asked the guide if we could call a taxi - we were about 10 minutes drive from the port - and she asked her boss, the director of the park. He then volunteered to drive us back! What kindness! And en route we had a good chance to talk with the guide and learn even more about the area. The rest of the group came back on the last tender at 5.30pm. At Punta Arenas we chose the Otway Sound penguin reserve tour. This involved around 2 hours each way on dirt roads before arriving at the reserve. When we got there we walked for exactly 1.5km in total, in a loop on a boardwalk and saw quite a few penguins. However our friend went to a penguin reserve on the Falklands and said it was much better - so if one would choose, I would do that in the future rather than Otway. I have to insist on the distance walked because RSSC's publicity says you must walk 2 miles there and 2 miles back. This is not correct. 1.5km all in is around a mile and there were a couple of golf buggies to hire ($25) for people who couldn't do that. In Ushuaia we took the Beagle Channel cruise. This was really interesting and we certainly saw a lot of sea lions! The cruise was followed by some time in a national park which was only marginally interesting, I thought. Ushuaia is a duty free port and people were stocking up on all sorts of electronic goods at rock bottom prices. Our cruise around Cape Horn was definitely a experience not to be missed. Captain Romeo took the Mariner between the two islands. He had warned us of high winds and very rough seas but to my glee the wind dropped once we came out of the channel and though the ship was rocking, it was not too bad. The Observation lounge was jam-packed and there was a real buzz up there. We got out on deck and took photos of the Cape as we went by. To put all this in context we had eaten at Signatures that evening, and had a superb dinner - what a contrast to Cape Horn Because we were in the Falklands Circle of Interest the highlight of all the excursions was our time there. We drove over really bad dirt roads for nearly 3 hours to reach Goose Green and walked over the battlefields with Jamie and our excellent local guide, Patrick, commentating. We then visited the war memorial at San Carlos bay and paid our respects to Col. H Jones who earned a VC in the battle and was killed in Darwin. Lunch was a very "cobbled together" affair put on by a local family. They themselves were absolutely fascinating to talk with and it was interesting to see how people live in these windswept, rainy islands. Speaking of rain - I have to say that we were enormously lucky with the weather. Aside from a couple of showers in Cusco we had great weather. In fact Terry Breen said several times that she has been to this part of the world over 20 times and had never before this cruise seen the tops of the mountains in Patagonia!!¨ We docked in Buenos Aires on the Sunday evening and did not have to disembark until the Monday morning. Our last night we dined in Signatures again, making it three times in all during the voyage. The quality and choice here are terrific. As I mentioned earlier we also like the Compass Rose, but I am afraid that for me Latitudes, despite great service, has not yet found its niche. We did enjoy the barbecues by the pool grill which were offered most lunchtimes on sea days -- and the single best thing I ate on the whole cruise had to be the barbecued suckling pig with crackling at the last BBQ!! Aside from the lectures we both spent a great deal of time on the computers. We appreciated the new coffee bar and the quality of the cappuccinos has to be tasted to be believed! There are fewer terminals on Mariner than Voyager though and I think they should remove the Stars nightclub and enlarge both the "Coffee Connection" and the computer lab. Finally, we became Trivia fanatics and rushed to the Horizon lounge every day at 4pm. On one day I chatted with the Pastry Chef, Kevin Lee, who told me he had been the Pastry Chef at The Ivy (a famous London restaurant). When I told him that his Sticky date pudding served in the Compass Rose the night before was to die for, he said "Yes - it's what Madonna always ordered at the Ivy"!! All in all a fantastic cruise. Interesting places - none of which we had been to before - much enhanced by the on board lectures and above all the sheer joy of the luxury of the Mariner and RSSC! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Because recent reviews of the Regent Mariner have been scarce, I thought it was important to provide an update. Rather than providing the day-by-day review of the ship typical of many reviews, I've decided to focus this review on the ... Read More
Because recent reviews of the Regent Mariner have been scarce, I thought it was important to provide an update. Rather than providing the day-by-day review of the ship typical of many reviews, I've decided to focus this review on the key issues that may help you decide if the Mariner is the right cruise ship for you. Quick Review (If you are scanning reviews and only have a few minutes, read this part first. If you have more time, you can read the rest in more detail now or later.) Older, well-traveled, wealthy clientele. Good food and excellent complimentary wine. Many of the amenities you would expect on a luxury cruise line, including 24-hour room service. Cabins were spacious and well arranged. Onboard activities were plentiful for this clientele, but won't suit younger cruisers. Many of the shore excursions were excellent, and the complementary shuttle into town at some ports was a real bonus. Internet access was good for a ship. Dining room and some buffet service was mixed. Don't choose this ship for the quality of the entertainment, fitness center, or dEcor. Clientele - I estimate 80-90% of the passengers were in the 55-90 age group with the median age of about 65. There were very few passengers under 50. We saw about three children. Wealthy and well traveled; over half were repeat Regent customers. About 160 of the 590 people aboard were taking the entire four-segment cruise around South America. Regent understands what this demographic wants and focuses their services on their needs. Things that make Regent better than many other cruise lines: - Shore excursion amenities. Like some of the other premium cruise lines, red carpets, shade tents, chairs, water, and fruit punch are often set up shore-side. Free bottled water and beach towels are available at the gangway. One of the useful amenities we liked was a complementary shuttle bus at several of the ports. If you aren't interested in taking an organized shore excursion, these busses are great alternatives that allow you to get into town to a hotel, shopping areas, or central plazas. - Food, wine, and drinks. The food was good. A few meals were incredible, some were just average. The menu variety in the main dining room was impressive—-something that is likely quite a challenge for a longer, multi-segment cruises. In fact, they often incorporated local menu items to provide a taste of South America while eating aboard the ship. We ate one dinner at Signatures and it was wonderful. We also ate one Italian dinner at La Veranda. The food at La Veranda was also excellent. The captain was dining at a table nearby, if that gives you any idea what his preferences are. (OK, I'll admit. He is Italian, so that may have something to do with it!) The wine with every dinner in all three venues was outstanding! Their great selection of complimentary white and red wines varied each evening. Although you can pay to get premium wines, we found the nightly offerings to be excellent quality and didn't see anybody spending money on other vintages. If you don't care for one of the selected wines, you can ask for an offering from a previous night. It will probably still be available and will be provided to you free for your enjoyment. It is very nice to have complimentary bottled water, sodas, premium coffees, and alcoholic beverages widely available. It was also nice to have free soda and popcorn available at the afternoon movies. Other than paying for some pictures at the end of the cruise, I really enjoyed never having to sign a charge slip the entire cruise. - Cabin Size and Layout. With balconies, walk in closets, and large bathrooms with full size tubs or showers in every suite, even the smallest guest cabin on the ship is larger than many premium cabins on other lines. The space was very well organized. The sitting area with a small sofa and comfortable chair was great for lounging and eating in the room. The mini fridge was always well stocked. Fresh fruit and flowers were the extra touch of luxury you would expect in a cruise line in this class. Lots of power plugs made it easy to recharge camera batteries, etc. - Room Service. The breakfast menu was left on the bed each night. We ordered breakfast in the room over half the mornings because it was so convenient. We really enjoyed eating breakfast in the room as we were getting ready to go ashore on excursion days. Unlike many other lines, you could even order room service breakfast on disembarkation day. The hours were just limited so you could eat and be out of the room on time. We also had one lunch and one late night dinner in the room. It is easy to get spoiled with room service on this cruise. As a side note: Since room service is available 24 hours a day, this ship doesn't have food available at a buffet or other venue at odd hours. The Coffee Connection did have cookies, coffee, hot tea, and a refrigerator full of cold drinks available 24 hours as well as some sandwich meats and cheeses during the off hours in the afternoon. However, at other times if you want food or a real meal when the restaurants are closed, order room service. - Daily Activities. Onboard activities were appropriate for the clientele. You won't find any belly flop contests at the pool!! Instead, there were a variety of lectures on ports, South American culture, and geopolitical issues. The best thing about the port lectures is that they focused on things to do and see in port, not on shopping the "company stores" or buying shore excursions. The schedule also included daily movies, classes, and cooking demonstrations. Our problem with the activity schedule was not being able to do all the things we wanted to do in a given day. Many of the best activities tended to be clustered in the mid-afternoon, sometimes making it difficult to attend more than one event. It would be better to have early afternoon and late afternoon activities to allow more opportunities to participate. - Muster drill. The muster drill was simple and occurred at 1015 on the first morning at sea. Given the small passenger load of this ship, everybody can fit in the theater at one time. As we sat in the theater, it was explained to us that Regent's philosophy is to muster passengers in the theater and only evacuate to the life boats if the situation requires it, thus keeping everybody out of any cold or bad weather until the last minute. That's a pretty nice way to do a muster! - Panama Canal. Several special touches made this a very nice experience. Mariner provided lots of covered chairs on the deck at the front of the boat to watch the activity. The Observation Lounge was the best indoor space to view the passage, and they served a nice continental breakfast and afternoon tea there during the canal transit. (I later discovered this was standard every day, but just more popular on that day.) We spent much of the day there and it was fantastic. We couldn't ask for much more than a comfy chair with a view of the world and food and drinks at our fingertips! Since every cabin has a balcony, you could also view the passage from the comfort of your cabin (and order room service, if you want to). The Panamanian tour guide was only being broadcast in the public areas, but you could tune into the ship's channel on TV to hear her while in the cabin. - Dress code. If you like to dress for dinner (we do), this is your ship. In 12 nights, we had three formal nights (tuxes and formals were the standard) and three informal nights (coat and tie for men, cocktail dresses for women). The rest were "country club casual," which was still pretty dressy. Most of the women were wearing dresses or nice slacks. Most of the men wore nice shirts and many still wore jackets with open collar shirts. Signatures requires coat and tie minimum, even on casual nights. - Meet your neighbor. This was the first cruise ship we've been on where they had a "block party" in the hallways outside the cabins late the first afternoon. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the people who you would see in the halls for the next 12 days. The serving staff was pouring wine and offering snacks. The entertainment staff and ship's officers were also in the hallways meeting the guests. It was a great way to start building the camaraderie and meeting friends that became one of the most memorable parts of this cruise. The mixed bag. Some good and some bad made these things that Regent does only slightly better or on par with other cruise lines: - Shore Excursions. I detest tours that take you to one "commission store" after another. We thought Regent was going to be different and for many tours they were. Many excellent tours focused on seeing the sights and never stepped foot in a store. However, Cartagena, Colombia was the disappointing exception. Apparently the tour operator there also owns a small shopping mall in the new part of the city and all tours included an obligatory stop at that mall. After an excellent tour of the city, we wasted over an hour of our precious port time at that mall. Many people on the tour were quite upset and some abandoned the tour at that point and took a cab back to the ship. Even those people who took the dedicated shopping tour expecting to be able to spend time at some of the high quality shops downtown were instead taken to this "tourist trap" mall. Other tour highlights included the Gamboa Resort aerial tram in Panama, which included a walk up a tower with spectacular views of the area and the Panama Canal. Archeological sites near Trujillo, Peru were also spectacular. Note that Regent shore excursions are appropriate for their clientele. There were lots of beautiful coach and walking tours, but you won't find many action and adventure options here! - Internet. Most ship internet is slow, and the Mariner's was no exception. However, the prices were a bit more reasonable than other ships. Package prices had 20-25 cents per minute, and packages were easy to use up on a 12-day cruise. Here's a tip: Leave a couple of minutes on your package for your last online session. The prices do not change during the session, so if you have a 20 cent per minute package any additional minutes you use will be charged at that rate—as long as you started with that rate. It's an easy way to extend the value of your package for one session without having to buy another package you may not need. The non-package price was 35 cents, which is still not bad when compared with some other lines. The best deal was for people who had cruised more than 20 nights with Regent—-free internet access! There were lots of computers available in the computer room and four more just outside at nice desks in the Coffee Connection area. Wireless was also available at several locations throughout the ship and in your cabin. The wireless worked flawlessly in our cabin. - Housekeeping, Bed Quality, and Linens. First let me say that our stewardess was excellent. She was incredibly fast and thorough. On other lines we've often returned to the cabin while it was being serviced. We only caught our stewardess once. She was finished, but had stepped down the hall to get fresh fruit for our bowl. We can hardly complain about that! We heard from other frequent Regent cruisers that this is the one exception some people make to the no-tipping policy, so we had no problem providing a little extra for our stewardess. (It was entirely optional, but we felt like we should recognize and reward what we felt was truly outstanding service.) The bed was nice and comfortable, but I overheated under the down comforter. So I doubled the comforter over my wife (who always gets cold) and slept under a sheet. Although there was an extra wool blanket in the room, I wanted something lighter weight. I called housekeeping and asked for a cotton blanket, but was told they were not available. I found that somewhat surprising. If a ship of this size doesn't have any cotton blankets onboard, they need to get a few! Housekeeping did bring me a lightweight acrylic/wool blend blanket, which was better than all wool or nothing. - Dining Room Service. One of the things we really liked about this cruise was the ability to meet new people at dinner each evening. The Maitre d' will give you a choice when you check in. Sometimes you get great table companions and sometimes you don't. If you want some alone time, you can ask for a table for two. The down side to the open seating arrangement is that you may get a different waiter every time, so they won't know your special needs or preferences from serving you the entire cruise. My wife has some special dietary limitations. Regent wants to you fax those requirements to the ship at least 30 days prior to embarkation. We also provided the information to the registration desk staff and dining room staff the first evening. They provided advance copies of next day's menu at our cabin every night and asked us to pre-order any special requests at the dining room before 1000. We didn't find that very convenient, since we were either rushing to get out the door for a shore excursion and ate room service in the cabin, or we were sleeping in. We never made the dining room for breakfast. It would have been far easier for us to simply know what menu items were compatible with my wife's dietary requirements. Reading the brief description often wasn't enough and the waiters had to consult the chef because they didn't know the details either. The one morning my wife attempted to pre-order, she felt like she was scolded by the Maitre d' on duty. On a few occasions, we had repeat waiters who understood her requirements and identified the items on the menu which met her requirements. In retrospect, a face-to-face meeting with the dining room supervisor may have made the situation easier to handle. In sharp contrast to the main dining room, La Veranda and Signatures handled her special needs very well. We expected to have a few issues at Signatures because they clearly state that menu items cannot be modified because they are prepared to exacting Cordon Bleu standards. We were pleasantly surprised when the waiter asked us up front if there were any dietary concerns! At both Signatures and La Veranda the chefs personally came out to discuss the preparations with my wife to make sure they were acceptable. That probably isn't possible given the quantity of people in the main dining room, but it was a welcome change of pace. One final issue about the main dining room is that it seemed like somebody dropped dishes every night and there were no rough seas to blame. The noise of clanking dishes and silverware was particularly distracting at lunch and occasionally so during dinner. - Drink and Buffet Service and Cooks. The drink service in the theater was hit or miss. Plan to get to the theater early, if you want a drink. The only time we got drink service when we arrived just before the show started was in the balcony. I suppose this makes sense, since they don't want the servers distracting the performers. I've noticed they continue to serve during the show on some other cruise lines where they are making money from the drinks, but that's not the case here. Despite the fact that it was a buffet, the breakfast and lunch servers at La Veranda were quite attentive—quickly bringing drinks and clearing dishes. Although most of the buffet is self-serve, they usually had a carving station and some kind of cooking station set up on the end for omelets, pasta, etc. You need to have a table "staked out" before you order anything cooked to order in La Veranda or upstairs at the pool grill. That often wasn't convenient if you were just then selecting buffet items for your plate. The easiest thing to do was go through the buffet once, put your plate at a table, and then go back to order anything you wanted cooked. I felt like I got some attitude from a La Veranda omelet chef when I selected some baby shrimp from the buffet and asked him if he could include them in the omelet. I was somewhat surprised by that in a ship of this class. - Disco. This could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. The disco was usually virtually empty. If you want to select your own music and dance in relative privacy (which we did), you'll love it. If you are looking for lots of people dancing, you won't find them here. - Photographic services. It was a pleasure to have photographers available, but never pressuring you for a photo. With Regent you won't find photographers stopping the tender disembarkation line to snap mandatory photos. Like most other ships, the photos are outrageously overpriced at $25 each, with no quantity discounts. Most of the pictures they took were excellent and we bought four. I hated to see them throw away perfectly good pictures, but I thought $100 was enough to spend on prints. We also bought a Regent SharedBook for about $100. This is a 60-page hardbound book that included stock shots from the ship's files, any photos you purchased onboard, and the ability to upload any of your own digital photos. It sounded like a great idea at the time to create a photo keepsake. Unfortunately, there were disappointingly few stock photos actually included. The website is so slow that it makes the shipboard internet seem fast! Finally, the software is limited and cumbersome. Since we took over 2200 digital photos and have several hundred photos from some of the friends we met, we will produce a quality photo book. It will just be much more work than we anticipated based on the description of the process we received from the onboard photographers who sold us the package. - Spotlight on Chocolate. Regent frequently has "spotlight" cruises that focus on a particular topic. This cruise was touted as a "Spotlight on Chocolate." We expected lots of opportunities to sample chocolate specialties, but that wasn't the case. One afternoon included a rum and chocolate tasting that focused more on rum than chocolate—-interesting, but not what we expected or wanted. Much later during the cruise a guest dessert chef demonstrated preparation of a couple of his recipes. His desserts were featured that night in the dining room. While all of this was a unique learning opportunity, these couple of events fell well short of our expectation of what a "spotlight" cruise would include. Things that could use improvement: - Entertainment. Some of the evening entertainers were good. (Three of the solo entertainers got standing ovations.) Others were mediocre. I thought the first production show and the magician were weak. The shows are fun, but don't expect consistently high quality entertainment on this cruise. - Security. We were very surprised that there was no peephole in the door. We never knew who was ringing our doorbell until we opened it, and that's not very secure. The safe was half size. Ironically, the shelf was empty behind the safe, so it could have accommodated a full size safe. I would think both of these items could and should be easily upgraded. - Ship Décor. Some people say the Mariner has an "understated elegance." In some places, that is true. The Coffee Connection area, which was just recently added, and the hallway area next to it were very nice. In other places the ship is boring and worn. I thought the grey metal mesh decorations suspended in the atrium were downright ugly. I've seen comments about them in several reviews, so I'm somewhat surprised they are still there. Some good interior design could really brighten up the ship. We like elegant and classy, not boring or garish. - TV. We didn't find much to watch so we left it on the bow camera station most of the time so we could listen to the classical music. Unfortunately, it was the same music over and over every night. They really could use more variety. When our schedule was too full to allow us to attend a cultural or port lecture, we frequently tuned in to the replay channels to hear what we missed. Additionally, the TV really should be interactive. While some guests on this ship may be intimidated by the technology, many would appreciate the capability to order shore excursions and check the few charges you may incur. A DVD player was included and we noticed quite a few guests checking out free DVDs from the library. Since that's something we can do better at home, we never watched a single movie in the room. - Fitness Center. While the equipment was adequate for a ship of this size; the location, ambience, and view are horrible. Most land-based gyms are nicer and this is the worst onboard fitness center I've seen in 10 years. In all fairness, they do have a nice large group exercise room connected to the gym and did hold classes there. We've enjoyed several fitness centers at sea, but we didn't have the desire to spend any time in this one. We took the stairs everywhere instead. We heard they may have plans for a new fitness center, including an expansion and relocation to a better part of the ship. - Boutique selection. The onboard store had a very limited selection of Regent or Mariner branded merchandise. Most of the selection was Izod Lacoste. While that is fine if you forgot to pack casual clothes for the cruise, we wanted a quality souvenir shirt or jacket from the ship. We were disappointed to leave empty handed because the one shirt in three different colors wasn't anything we wanted to buy. - A good plan gone bad. On each of the four legs of this South American cruise, Regent planned a complementary shore excursion or party of some kind. For this first leg they planned a party in Panama at the Miraflores Visitor's Center. It sounded great. A guided bus tour to the visitor's center, a quick tour of the displays followed by food, entertainment, dancing, and free drinks all evening as we watched the ships transit the locks of the Panama Canal. Unfortunately, the execution fell short of the plan and many guests were disappointed and upset. The tender and bus rides took way too much of the allotted time. The food was marginal and many people missed most of the entertainment. I enjoyed the displays at the visitor's center and watching the ships transit the locks up close was fantastic. It was advertised that the party would last until midnight, but there wasn't much time to enjoy the evening before the final busses returned to the ship shortly after 10:00 pm. To add insult to injury, there were long lines for the tenders back to the ship. The lines moved quickly, but lines of any kind are a rarity that Regent customers don't expect and don't tolerate well. We were left standing in the parking lot for 15-20 minutes and that caused some of the passengers physical discomfort. Also, we had been promised a nice barbeque and buffet upon returning to the ship, but it wasn't anything more than the standard pool grill fare, a few sandwiches, and a table of desserts. Since the food was so bad on shore, lots of hungry people were upset with the poor showing on the ship and returned to their cabins for room service. (Thank goodness for an excellent menu and no-fee, 24-hour room service. The room service waiter said they were surprisingly busy that night and didn't know why!) The complaints were widespread and emphatic. Although the event was free to guests, everybody (including the staff) was well aware that this event did not meet Regent standards of service and quality. I think this was the low point for many people, including us, on this leg of the cruise. The captain even apologized the next day for not having enough tenders available. The word around the ship was that this was Regent's first and last time to use the Miraflores Visitor's Center for a party. In summary, we loved our cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat. The good friends we made on board will hopefully last a life time. However, OVERALL, it is difficult to rate our experience 5 or 6 stars. Yes, there were some 5 and 6 star moments--dinner menus delivered to our door, our cabin stewardess, the size and comfort of the cabins, room service, the on-deck fresh grilled fish buffet, and two restaurants (Signatures and La Veranda Italian Steakhouse). Perhaps our expectations of perfection were too high and it is easy to get spoiled quickly, but by the end of the cruise we were surprised that Mariner fell short in so many areas identified above. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We have just returned from a fabulous 30 day journey on Regent Seven Seas Voyager. I booked last minute from Regent  and was offered an F category at H pricing. We booked just 10 days (Auckland to Sydney) with a 3 day pre cruise stay in ... Read More
We have just returned from a fabulous 30 day journey on Regent Seven Seas Voyager. I booked last minute from Regent  and was offered an F category at H pricing. We booked just 10 days (Auckland to Sydney) with a 3 day pre cruise stay in Auckland. The flight, the hotel, all handled by Regent, was perfect (albeit eCONOMY CLASS) BUT aIR New Zealand is a wonderful airline, so it wasn't too bad. (oVERNIGHT FLIGHT OUT OF lOS Angeles, non stop to Auckland...around 13 hours) ONCE ON THE SHIP, we couldn't resist extending, so we met with the cRUISE CONSULTANT ONBOARD, who worked hard to make it happen (again at the same discounted pricing)and before we knew it, our 10 day voyage turned into 30 wonderful days! The seas were rough, but we were mid ship on deck 8 and it didn't bother us too much. sINCE THIS IS PART OF A WORLD CRUISE, the passengers were older than we have travelled with on other Regent sailings.....We are in our late 50's, and have found the Regent trips to the Med and Tahiti to attract a younger crowd. Food was superb in all of the restaurants. The wine flowed (DECENT LABELS EVERY MEAL INCLUDED) and the gifts from Regent on each segment were very nice. We each received leather credit card/ cases and nice wool and leather travel bags. Customer service was the best ever: the stewardess was exceptional, the wait staff professional and courteous, and the maitre d/s in each restaurant went our of their way to accommodate. We don;t like the formal nights (there were 4) BUT THE SERVICE AND MENU IN COMPASS ROSE ON THE FORMAL NIGHTS was the best we've had. tHE ITINERARY WAS relatively active: about 6 total days at sea in the entire 30 day voyage. Weather was not very good in AUSTRALIA AND WE HAD SNOW IN jAPAN. Yet I can still say it was the Best cruise we've ever taken thanks to Regent and the wonderful job they do keeping the passengers happy! We have already booked the President's Cruise for May of 09 (23 nights Ft Lauderdale to London, and can not wait to get back with this amazing ship and crew! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
This was our second cruise to Alaska, and the state is wonderful. All in all, a delightful trip. TO & IN VANCOUVER. We splurged on First-Class fare, but all it got us was a larger seat. When you get up at 4AM to catch a 7:20AM plane, ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska, and the state is wonderful. All in all, a delightful trip. TO & IN VANCOUVER. We splurged on First-Class fare, but all it got us was a larger seat. When you get up at 4AM to catch a 7:20AM plane, you don't drink much. Air Alaska, our airline out, didn't have a lounge available for us. Their hot meal was tasty, if mundane. Service tended to be sporadic, due to turbulence. The flight and connecting "puddle-jumper" were crammed full. We arrived in Vancouver, took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency, and found we were booked onto the Concierge Lounge floor. The Concierge ladies can book you into the most expensive restaurants, or recommend a more modest one. Their charm took the edge off our jet lag. Our room was spacious, lovely, and had a wonderful view. We were so jet-lagged, we made a meal out of the complimentary cold appetizers. Joan poured herself a glass of wine from the honor bar, and found she was the only person to fill out a chit, although everyone was drinking. Their internet connections were free, but down that evening. Next morning, we made a meal out of the complimentary cold breakfast, and walked through Gastown and Chinatown. We used public transit, although we ran into some snags regarding the timing of our tickets. A snack from the T&T Supermarket in Chinatown held us until we boarded the Mariner. ON BOARD the Mariner, we joined our friends from Cruise Critic for dinner at Signatures, the Mariner's Cordon Bleu French restaurant. It was superb, from salad to dessert. We drank the wine of the day recommended by the waiter and never felt a need for any premium wine. By the end of the meal, we felt we had known Tripandtravel, Bill and Susan Cantley, forever. They proved excellent company, entertaining and knowledgeable VICTORIA: Off the ship early to explore the Empress Hotel, then to the Inner Harbour, then to Thunderbird Park, a beautiful park with many totem poles. We then went into the Royal Museum. We could have spent the entire day at the Museum, especially their Native Peoples exhibit. Joan found a large sterling pendant replica from their Egyptian exhibit, and hats which said "S.S. Titanic". The hats caused quite a stir at lifeboat drill, but spooked the crew so much we put them away. Hunger drove us back to the ship at 2PM. We found we never wanted to risk paying for a meal of inferior quality when a paid, tasty meal waited for us on board. You could explore Victoria for several hours and not leave the few blocks of downtown, it is so compact. We didn't return to Victoria after lunch, although two hours remained before sailing time. We didn't want to risk getting to the shuttle buses too late to catch the ship. Dinner was at the Alaskan Grill, held in the La Veranda buffet area. A terrific fish meal. INNER PASSAGE: A day at sea is delightful, and Regent does it beautifully. Meals were superb, snacks were better. We used the free machines to do a load or three of wash. The Inside Passage was especially lovely. Sherry and a scone at 4PM, a trivia game, then a 40th Anniversary celebration at Latitudes. Their carrot cake was amazing - lovely and rich, with a marzipan card which read "Happy 40th Anniversary". KETCHIKAN: Okay, the Lumberjack show is touristy, hokey, funny and fun. The visitor Information Center offers FREE, accurate information. Joe's Golden Passport gained us free admission to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center next to the show. The Discovery Center is well worth the modest admission fee, and their gift shop features a fine selection of full-price books about Alaska. Here again, the town seems concentrated into a few blocks, as you would expect from a town which shrinks to 8,000 people in the winter. After lunch I took a nap and Joe walked back into town. He explored Creek Street, which was interesting, and had much better shops than the souvenir shops and jewelry stores nears the pier. TRACEY ARM CRUISING: Worth every penny! The glaciers are even more awe-inspiring from a few hundred feet. Our best memories and pictures came out of this excursion. I feared the small boats and getting "up close" to the glaciers. In spite of my fears, this turned into a high point of the cruise. My ski pants, wool socks and sweater, waterproof mittens and low winter boots kept me comfortable. A waterproof parka would have helped, too. The boats offer free hot beverages, working toilets, and a glassed-in area. The guides were energetic, well-trained and knowledgeable. The weather was perfect, and the whales came out to play on our way to Juneau. JUNEAU: We didn't get in until 1:30 PM. The Mt. Roberts Tramway was closed due to fog 10 years ago, on our first trip to Juneau. That was the first item on our "wish" list, and I wish we'd skipped it. The tram cost $25.00 per person, the trails were closed due to snow, there was a price tag on everything you saw, and I was disappointed. Yes, they showed an interesting free movie made by and for the native peoples. Yes, we saw an eagle rescued from the wild. The museums closed as we got down from the tram. The rows of T-shirt shops were jammed with the 5,000+ tourists and crew. We simply returned to the ship for an early day. SKAGWAY: We paid out top dollar for the Scenic Rail and Klondike Gold Dredge tour, which had an energetic, costumed guide in the other car. Joe was enthusiastic about the scenery, but a guide in our railway card would have been helpful. Later, at the very touristy (and not worth the trip) gold dredge, I panned for gold, got my regulation six flakes, and declined to have it made into a necklace. The real gold came after the panning, when you could pay top dollar to have your flakes made into a necklace. The gold panning people put on a bit of a show for us, with free cookies and costumes, but everyone got just six flakes per pan.... By now, the rows of t-shirt shops selling $2- t-shirts for $10- were starting to irritate me. The NATIONAL PARK SERVICE offers FREE tours, and a movie, maintains a restored historic house, and is the best value for your dollar here. Sign up early for the free tours, limited in size, see their museum and movie, and take the free shuttle to the local Historic Museum. The film superbly demonstrated the rigors faced by the "Gold Rush" miners. The Moore House was lovingly restored, the small museum showed you more of the Gold Rush challenge, and it was FREE. SITKA: Not enough time here. We opted for a private tour. Our guide, Eric was a summer worker who wanted to show us everything we wanted to see. We saw the Indians perform 10 years ago, so we took a tour which included the Archangel Dancers, an all female group, performing traditional Russian dances. Some of my best pictures came from this show. Not enough time to see the Church and learn more about Alaska's Russian roots. Too little time spent at the National Historic Park, with its Totem Poles and Native Peoples movie. The Raptor Center fascinated us, and Eric seemed to know some of the staff. We were the only people on our tour, which is the only way we managed to see as much as we did. We skipped the Sheldon Jackson Museum this time due to lack of time, but Sitka offers more than many ports with longer stays. I want to add that the trivia game at 4PM could be a true stumper, and the best people on the cruise formed teams. HUBBARD GLACIER CRUISING: Another at sea day, done in the best Regent style. The day was overcast, and the blue tint of the glaciers showed clearly. To enhance our experience, two First Nations representatives dressed in their native garb and posed for pictures. Sigh! I wish I were back there ...We turned our trivia winnings for a Regent photo album. SEWARD: Yes, we arrived safely. Our luggage seemed to expand along with our waistlines, but we were happy. Dropped off for the bus, we made our connections relatively smoothly. The bus stopped in Anchorage in front of the Anchorage Museum. They gave you a free admission pass into the museum, a $7.00 value. We could, of course, have gone in search of a good, reasonably-priced lunch. Not the museum-collecting Machs....soup and a sandwich set one back $10.00, but the Museum gave us new insights into the Iditarod, and the natives weaving grass mats were fascinating. I even stimulated the local economy at the "SALE" corner of the gift shop. After the museum visit, we continued on the bus toward Talkeetna. Following a break for ice cream and rest rooms, the bus driver drove us directly to our hotel. TALKEETNA: Sticker shock. Our first room faced the parking lot...for $50.00 they upgraded you to a room with a breathtaking view, refrigerator, and more. We were carrying our complimentary room liquor from the Regent, so we grabbed burgers and fish Quesadillas (surprisingly good) at the bar (mobbed with cruise tourists), returned to the room, and sipped our complimentary champagne while watching the sun set on Mt. McKinley. We had an early excursion the next day, so the bus into Talkeetna proper seemed more trouble than it was worth. Food prices reflected the tourist nature of the area. The luggage handling was superb - swift, easy and informative. Mahay"s Boat Tour started a few minutes late, but our guide promised to stand between us and the charging bears with her gun, so nobody complained. The ladies outhouse featured a porcupine, disoriented by the constant sunlight and determined to find a shady nap. I was delighted to make our dome train with just a few minutes to spare, and to find myself alone in their clean Ladies' Room. The train ride featured views, energetic guides, and fair food at the prices you'd expect. I don't think you can have a meal on a train for less than $10.00. We bought UNLIMITED Drink cups, which turned into bargains when we realized we could get unlimited drinks on both train trips. MCKINLEY CHALET LODGE: No vans were available for the independent travelers. We called, but nobody gave us information "It should be there. Look for it." By this point in the trip, we were carrying around 150 lbs. of luggage. We hauled that back and forth along the train platform, past tour busses for Holland America and other cruise lines, until a kind HAL guide gave us a ride. They graciously left us off at the main building, but we still hefted our luggage into the lounge. Check-in completed, we had a small, clean room close to the lobby. I understand the HAL people were unhappy with their cabins, which required the shuttle busses and were even smaller than ours. The Aramark people know they have the locations, and that's what you pay for. We had a discount coupon for Cabin Night (a hoot, touristy, and fun) and Fannie's Flapjacks from the Northern Lights discount book, which more than covered the cost of the book The fabulous Kantishna Roadhouse 13-hour tour run by the Doyon tribe took us deep into the heart of Denali, and let us try panning for gold or seeing a demonstration of husky dog sledding (on wheels). It was a wonderful experience, and I won't forget Denali soon. BUT we tried the buffet at the hotel that night and the service was putrid to non-existent. I had to ask the hostess to get my water glass filled, and the plates piled up while we ate. By contrast, we encountered a hotel van driver who drove us to the local post office, and then to the Subway across the street, so we could buy sandwiches for the train trip to Anchorage. His superb service was one bright light in a poor staff. Train Ride: Yes, they refilled our cups for free. The sandwiches let us lunch in our seats and be taken first on line for dinner on the train. The train ride featured lovely scenery, views of Denali, explanations of life in Alaska, and enthusiastic guides. Our Canadian dinner companions chatted amiably. We arrived in Anchorage on time. Our bus featured HAL tourists, so our train car stopped half-a-mile before the scheduled stop. The HAL people boarded their own busses, and we walked the half-a-mile to our luggage. We found our own luggage (relief!), and the man from the Comfort Inn hauled it onto their van. ANCHORAGE: Our room at the Comfort Inn featured a Jacuzzi, and the hotel's recent renovation made it a winner. We were far happier with our hotel than the HAL people, who had been put up at the Hilton. The Comfort Inn's famous free breakfast contrasted poorly with the Hilton's, although the Hilton offered a superb location. We slept late and had only a few minutes' wait for the ULU Factory's free shuttle into Anchorage our day in Anchorage . The free shuttle only starts at 10AM....but by then the Street Fair, Flea Market, whatever, was in full swing. We did see the Aurora Borealis show with a coupon, but happily ate lunch at the flea market while chatting with locals. The market offered free local entertainment, of varying quality. I broke a long-standing rule and ordered salmon to be sent to our home. Oscar came through for us beautifully, and the cold salmon makes a fine meal on a hot summer night. CONTINENTAL FIRST CLASS: Yes, a larger seat. Once again, no access to the airport lounges, even for first class PAX. Food definitely mediocre at best - we were offered the same dismal entrEe both legs of the trip. We were delayed getting off the plane in Seattle due to a delay in replacing that flight crew with another one. Drink service inattentive, at best. If I hadn't seen how bad coach was, I'd think we didn't get our money's worth... SUMMARY: A dream fulfilled. We saw things which were unique, experienced a part of this country we'd never seen before, and had a wonderful time. I think out next trip should be a modest car vacation.... Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
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