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532 Regent Seven Seas Cruise Reviews

Flight Arrangements I am beginning this trip report long before the trip as this has been the hardest trip to arrange so far. The trip is basically a cruise on the Regent Voyager from Athens to Dubai with a few days in Athens before and ... Read More
Flight Arrangements I am beginning this trip report long before the trip as this has been the hardest trip to arrange so far. The trip is basically a cruise on the Regent Voyager from Athens to Dubai with a few days in Athens before and one long day in Dubai at the end. The problem with the trip was arranging the air travel to the ship and then home after the cruise. The original plan was to fly first class over and back. The trip from DFW to ATH was to be with BA from DFW to LHR then LHR to ATH. The return was to be with Emirates from DXB to JFK, then JFK to DFW with AA. I had the seats arranged, but not paid for through my travel agent. The first problem occurred when EK decided to withdraw the A380 from the DXB to JFK route. Well that was the whole point to taking that route as it was a chance to fly on an A380. Plan two was an EK 777 from DXB to IAH, then CO from IAH to DFW. That plan lasted for a while until the next problem or in this case opportunity occurred. In May BA decided to have a two for one Club World sale. I calculated the savings at $16,000 over the F fares. I decided for $16,000 I could indeed fly in business class. The routing would now be DFW to LHR and LHR to ATH outbound then DXB to LHR and LHR to DFW back home. Outbound was still all BA. However, I found that EK runs an A380 from DXB to LHR. The arrival time would mean a stay overnight in London as a connection to the LHR to DFW flight with BA would not be possible on the same day. Next problem. The original return date was October 28. However, changes at work pushed the date to October 25. Of course this would prompt a date change for the return leg of LHR to DFW. Next problem. I kept looking at the cost to upgrade the TATL flights back to first. The flight from LHR to DFW is always a 777 with all classes except this one day. On the 25th of October the highest class is Club World. Well so much for going First the entire way. Besides the LHR to ATH segment was always only Club Europe as that is all they offer. So I decide to just make the entire trip in business after all. Next problem. With these plans in mind the travel agent informs me that the Club World fare from DXB to LHR is higher than the First fare. What? Then I find that BA and American Express have made an agreement to allow one for one Membership Points to miles transfers. Hum, I have 138,000 points. I can use these to upgrade the back and forth flight on the LHR DFW segments. Next problem. The American Express web site does not list BA as an airline to which such a transfer can be made. It seems this will be implemented some time before the end of the year. End of the year? I need it now. So now what? Back to CW over, CE down to ATH, F back to LHR from DXB, and CW on the TATL back to DFW. I am getting so confused. Even worse this is creating havoc with my OCD. I do like everything neatly organized and balanced. This is definitely not. Next problem. After arranging everything else the only thing left to was to call BA to change the date of the DFW to LHR segment. On doing so they inform me that in addition to a $500 change fee per ticket I must pay the fare difference between the 2 for 1 price and the current ticket price. What? I could not see this anywhere on the rules for this promotion I printed in May. Next problem. I decide to argue with BA one more time. Of course I got nowhere. However I did get a clear explanation of the problem and the only two solutions. Solution one as detailed above is to change now and pay the fare difference. This is because we are within some 42 advance purchase window. At a cost of $6,000 something dollars that is not an option. However, for reasons unclear to me if we take the first flight on the ticket, the DFW to LHR segment, then once again we can magically change the date of the return flight for just the change fee of $500 per person. As at this point as I do not entirely trust BA on this I had the TA purchase a discounted business class ticket for each of us on an AA two class flight on a 767 just in case. I will just cancel these tickets at a small cost if I can work out things with BA. Next problem. Actually in this case it is another opportunity. One I was quick to take advantage of. Every few days I had been logging into ba.com to try some new scheme to do two things. First, change the return flight to the 25th without paying the fare difference now as opposed to doing this in London. Second, to upgrade the DFW to LHR segment in some way other than paying 8,600 something dollars per person. Today I was going to explore another way to buy BA miles to give me enough to upgrade. To my great surprise on going to Manage My Booking today up pops an offer to upgrade the DFW to LHR segment to First for $649 per person. $649? I can do that. Of course I click on the link to do this as it is a ba.com only offer to have the system say, sorry you cannot do this online, call reservations. So you cannot take advantage of an online only offer online. Hum, plan two, call BA. The nice gentleman on the other end says "I do not know. Let me consult a supervisor." Many minutes later back he comes to say, just hold on we are checking. More minutes go by then back he comes to say what credit card should this be charged to? Seconds pass, then he says you are all set. I am thinking great, but I must have seats 1E and 1F as Expert Flyer only shows 1E, 1F, 2E, and 2F available with 1A and 1K being blocked. Expert Flyer also shows F7 which makes no sense with that seat count. I ask to select the seats now over the phone as this is F. He says no you can only change the seats at check in. But you can see what seats have been assigned online now. I think, fine, let's go back online where I bet I can change seats. Sure enough we are in 1E and 1F, which I change to 2E and 2F. Within minutes a flurry of email messages arrive confirming all of these changes. All that is left is to see if this really happens on flight day. With the H1N1 flu panic and so forth, I have my doubts. I will report back. DFW to LHR Well, we're off. I still do not have the return flight arranged, but we did make it to ATH through LHR. The details are as follows. The car service driver picked us up at 2 for a 5:35 pm flight from DFW Terminal D to LHR T5. I had advised him to bring the large vehicle as we ended up with eight pieces of luggage. Yes, eight. Four large bags, two carryon size bags, a combination messenger bag backpack, and a purse size bag for the leftovers. Somehow I think this is going to be a trend in packing for these trips. At Terminal D we made a stop at the BA desk to see if the bags could be checked through to ATH as the tickets from DFW to LHR, then LHR to ATH were on separate records. Indeed they could be. After checking the bags we were invited to wait in the BA contract lounge in Terminal D. I had planned to wait in the Admirals Club. I decided I would be too nervous not being able to watch the departures board if we went to the Admirals Club. The BA lounge area is shared by several airlines. Each one has their own section. In the main part of the BA lounge there is a luggage drop, snacks and drinks, a TV area, tables, and chairs of various types. There is separate First Class section that is basically the same, except for less food. It is behind a door. Seems a little silly, but I have to admit I stayed in there rather than in the larger room. The flight boarded on time. They called the First and Business class passengers first. The FA greeted Mrs. Paint Horse and I at the door. A colleague of his directed us to the seats in the middle of the middle row. Once we were in our seats a predeparture drink was offered. For Mrs Paint Horse and I this was champagne. Being a philistine I did not ask the type. It was however very smooth. The amenity kit and pajamas were handed out while everyone else boarded. As this is a feed them, then put them to sleep flight no time was wasted. The crew on this flight was efficient and business like. They were just friendly enough to make the flight a pleasant experience. The only problem I noticed was the CSD did not introduce himself to anyone despite spending most of his time in the F section. He was an older man who should have known better. Dinner was quite good for airline food. Dinner service was paced just right. The result being dinner was not hurried, but was provided quickly enough to allow everyone to maximize sleep time. This being our first time over the Atlantic Mrs Paint Horse and I decided to use the change your clocks and your mind to the time it is at the end of the flight after boarding method. This meant we were eating dinner at 11:30 at night then going to bed. As this is not usual for us it worked quite well. We did change into the pajamas before dinner in case of spills, as I am quite prone to this. All that was left before going to sleep was to clean up. As we did so the seats was converted to beds. I found the bed on this old style F seat to be very comfortable. The only thing I did not like was the lack of width on the inside. Despite the bed I did not sleep well. It seems I do not sleep well on aircraft whether sitting up or lying down. About an hour before landing breakfast was served. Not knowing how much trouble we would have getting through LHR we went ahead and ate on the aircraft. Once again for aircraft food is was fine. On arrival at LHR on time we taxied to a remote stand. On disembarking it was onto the buses. I do not like this method, but I must say it was not as bad as I expected. On leaving the bus navigating for the first time through LHR was not as bad as I expected either. On leaving the bus we went up an escalator of course. This is LHR after all. This is somewhat tricky when one has two bags to tote around. At the top of the escalator were BA ticket desks and the lanes to divide the passengers into lines based on where they were going. We stopped at the BA desk to see about changing the return flight from the 28th to the 25th. It was a bad sign when neither one of two ticket agents could locate the fare bucket in their system. So no change at LHR. Even worse the seat count in J had strangely gone from J7 to J0 in all CW categories within two days. I believe the AA backup plan will have to go into effect. LHR to ATH After the ticket desk we were off again to a line for connecting passengers. This was quite easy as there were staff members at the entrance to answer questions about the correct queue one was to enter. Once again it was up an escalator with the bags. This is getting tiresome. At the top is the security check. I still do not understand why there is a security check for passengers getting off an aircraft in order to connect to another aircraft. It would make more sense to do this right before boarding instead of right after arriving. I must say the security staff were all friendly and helpful. This day it was bags in bins and shoes on. I managed to set off the metal detector. I do not recall why. The result was a pat down. On collecting everything it was time to find the Concorde Room. I knew it was at one end or the other of the exit from the security area. Of course there were no signs indicating what was where. I soon found we had arrived at the south end of T5. So it was off to the north end. Sure enough at the north end of the floor we found the guarded door. Presentation of the F boarding pass for the just arrived on flight resulted in the dragon opening the door for us. While in the Concorde Room I took the time to examine the area. As others have described it consists of various sitting areas, a bar, a restaurant, the terrace, and the various washrooms. I found it interesting that the washrooms are all individual rooms. Very nice. The Cabanas are smaller than I expected, but adequate in size. All Mrs Paint Horse and I did was sit and drink as much caffeine as possible in order to overcome the lack of sleep on the flight over. I was pleased to see neither one of us experienced any jet lag. I found that odd considering the lack of sleep. After a couple of hours it was time to wander over to the departure gate for the flight to ATH. This was one of the most difficult parts of navigating around T5. The door dragon pointed us in the general direction, but we could not see the gate as it was hidden behind the shopping mall that inhabits most of T5. On the way to the gate we first entered a restaurant looking for the escalator down, yes another escalator. The restaurant staff pointed us to the other side of a store. After winding through a store the down escalator landed us in another store. But sure enough there hidden behind the cosmetics counter was the gate. The flight to ATH left on time on a 763. I did not know this aircraft had more room in the middle section of CE. We were in the A and B seats. There was enough room, but the middle section would have been better. The flight proceeded without difficulty. On arrival at ATH to my surprise it was down the steps and onto another bus. What is this with BA and buses? Do they own a worldwide bus company? At ATH it was into the terminal, through passport control, and to baggage claim. I see the Greeks are not really into border control. This was the most perfunctory examination and stamping of a passport I have seen so far. Baggage claim was a problem as the car service driver had to wait outside. This meant maneuvering eight bags from baggage claim to the nonsecured area. Carts were available at one Euro, of which I had none. Of course there is a currency exchange right there or should I say a highway robbery exchange right there. With one Euro in hand, which cost me two Euros, the bags were loaded. Athens Outside we were met by the taxi drivers. Yes, taxi drivers - plural. You see a Mercedes-Benz E Class taxi as used in Greece cannot hold eight bags. Therefore, we had to form a caravan. Mrs. Overpacking Paint Horse, myself, and two bags in one car; the rest of the bags in the other car. The trip from the airport to the hotel was interesting. Since Athens is so large traffic is quite thick. There are two primary methods used by then local drivers to manage this mass of traffic. First, they just go where they want to go regardless of who might already be there. At the last second if they perceive the other driver is more resolute than they are, then they change direction. The second method is to drive a motorcycle of some sort. Being small these weave in and out of traffic, make lanes out of the stripes on the road, and generally go whenever and wherever they wish. It works in Athens. If they tried this in Texas they would likely be shot. The hotel in Athens was the Grand Bretagne. This is a very old, but well maintained, hotel in the center of the city. Being older the rooms are just typical size and layout hotel rooms, but well appointed. From the balcony of our room we could look left at the Parliament building, straight ahead at Constitution Square, and to the right at the Acropolis. These views at night were very pretty. Before catching the ship in Piraeus the plan was to do as much touring as possible in two days. On the first day we made an early start with the tour guide to visit the Acropolis before the cruise ship tours arrived. This was the beginning of much walking that would be done in Athens. After climbing up, viewing, and climbing back down out the ruins of the Parthenon we went to the new museum to see the recovered artifacts in context. This is a very nice museum. While touring it the advance of a bevy of suits indicated the presence of someone special as one of the suits was the museum director. This group was escorting Queen Sophia of Spain through the museum. The next stop was a walking tour of Plaka. This is tour included lunch. I can say with no hesitation that no one who visits Greece will ever leave hungry. Lunch consisted of dish after dish after dish. After this first tour dinner was at Daphne's back in Plaka. The Concierge suggested we walk. I assume the city is safe at night or he would not have suggested so. Once again we found the food outstanding. This is an interesting restaurant. It is of course in an old building with part being inside and part outside. We sat at a table on a recessed patio. On the second day a new guide took us off in another direction to see the old Agora. This tour ended with a visit to the Benaki museum and lunch on the top floor. The guides had advised us, and we noticed the locals strictly adhered to, to never enter a traffic lane unless the green pedestrian sign was on. Otherwise you will become a mere speed bump for the many cars and motorcycles. We noticed while leaving the hotel as well as touring central Athens that there are a number of stray dogs in the area. The guides said the city allows them to stake out a territory. The city then provides shots and neutering to them. There were two dogs that stay at the hotel. The first, Sweety, stayed near the front door mostly. The second one assisted the traffic police every day. You could see him running back and forth barking at the traffic during rush hour. The last part of the tour commenced in the early evening with a drive to Cape Sounion. This allowed us to see some of the area outside of Athens as we drove to the temple at the cape. At the end of this dinner was at Ithaki. This is a restaurant in the Cape Sounion area that has received excellent reviews. The restaurant did live up to its reviews as the food was excellent, as were the views from our table outside on a patio. In fact the entire restaurant was more or less outside as the large doors to the inside portion were open. As in Athens we could see that the Greeks have a very casual approach to critter control. As we were eating two then three cats wandered by. One decided I looked like an easy mark, which is correct. He took up a position between my chair and the retaining wall beside the table. He then gave me a I have not eaten in weeks look. I dropped a piece of Lobster Thermidor to him. Let me just say subsequent portions were feed to these cats by the waiter using a fork. These little guys just wander around the restaurant. The last day in Athens was consumed by repacking and traveling to the port of Piraeus to board the ship. The ship for the remainder of the surface borne trip was the Regent Voyager. The itinerary for the trip unfortunately placed most of the activities one after the other at the beginning of the trip. Egypt After one sea day to transit from Greece to Egypt it was up early to take an overnight tour of Cairo. For this tour we drove through the eastern desert from Port Said to Cairo. The route took us down the side of the Suez Canal then over to Cairo. This was done as is typical in Egypt in a convoy with police at the front, back, and onboard each bus. You can always tell who the individual bus guards are as they wear a suit and tie regardless of the temperature. Under the jacket is a very large weapon. As this was our first experience with this it was more of a novelty at this point. The eeriness of this was to increase as we spent more and more time in Egypt. The first stop near Cairo was to the Step Pyramid. This was done to show the development of construction techniques from this early pyramid to the later more extensive ones. As we left this site to drive to the hotel the unique qualities of Egypt began to come into view. The three things that stand out the most to the casual visitor to Cairo are this must be one of the filthiest cities in the world, it must also be one of the most inefficient economies in the world, and that the drivers on the roads are maniacs. Let me expand. First, there is nowhere in the Cairo area where you can go without seeing trash everywhere. Trash piles are along the sides of the roads, in the Nile, in the canals, and around the buildings. This makes seeing Cairo quite the Jekyll and Hyde experience. Here are the builders of the great pyramids surrounded by trash piles. Second, there are thousands of unfinished buildings everywhere. The explanation we were given is that these are squatters. They find a piece of land and start building a multistory building on it. They never finish the building since if they did so they would have to begin paying taxes on it. What? Who owns this land they just built on? If the entire country knows what the scam is, why don't they change the law? This is after all a dictatorship. Third, along every road near the Nile there are small inefficient farms. I assume these are left to give the lower classes something to do. But it must be terribly inefficient in such small parcels. All in all the Egyptians are quite strange. An interesting insight into how the country is run was provided by one of the tour guides while at lunch on the second day. I asked who would take over when Mubarak passes away. He stated that it would be one of his sons. I asked him how the country would take to this. He said it mattered more what the United States thought about it, then what the population of Egypt thought. The final stop on the second day was to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I must say these are impressive structures. Of course the idiot wife had to ride a camel. This consisted of employing the tour guide to negotiate a rate for the ride as well as standing in the middle of a herd of smelly beasts. Those things do stink. The hotel for the overnight in Cairo was the new Four Seasons across the street from the Nile. This is a very nice hotel. While watching the traffic on the street between the hotel and the Nile I finally understood why Egyptian drivers honk so much. It is because none of them stay in their lane. For example, while driving down one of the main multilane expressways around Cairo as we would approach a vehicle it would just slide over into part of our lane. The bus driver made a short honk. The other driver moved back in his lane. Then another vehicle would wander over into some other lane. They just pay no attention to the stripes on the road. To the Egyptian drivers a road is just one big, single lane. The location of this hotel is exceptional. Our room overlooked the Nile. Is was just the perfect experience to be standing on the balcony looking at the Nile as the sun went down with the call to prayer echoing across the city. This must be why people put up with the awful pollution in Cairo. It was so bad my nose ran the entire time we spent in the city. The evening of the first day was spent at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This was a private opening of the museum just for our group of about 50 or so people. Although the total time in the museum was limited the lack of crowds allowed us to spend a sufficient amount of time at each of the major exhibits. I understand that during standard opening hours the museum is so full that it is difficult to see the exhibits. The last part of this stop was the drive to Suez to meet the ship. One more section of the eastern desert was visited during this transit. The boarding procedure at Suez was a bit odd. The Egyptians are just the opposite of the Greeks when it comes to passports and luggage. We first stopped at a warehouse in the port. We then proceeded to unload the luggage from the bus, walk into a warehouse where we passed it through an X-ray machine, then it was back on the bus to reload the luggage then drive a few feet to the dock. The ship did not dock in Suez so when it came time to examine the passports for exit from Egypt this was done on the dock in the dark. The only light the officials had was provided by cell phones. It seems we arrived a little later than expected. After some back and forth it turned out all they wanted to see was the Port Said entry stamp. Jordan The ship next docked in Jordan for another overnight stay. The port city of Aqaba is not very large, nor does there seem to be much activity at the port. While driving through the city it is easy to see major differences between Egypt and Jordan. In Jordan the roads, at least the ones in Aqaba and up north toward Petra, are very well maintained. Trash everywhere as we saw in Egypt is not seen in Jordan. All in all the Jordanians seem to know what they are doing. The first day of this overnight trip consisted of leaving the ship in the afternoon to travel to Wadi Rum. On arriving at the visitor's center for this area we switched from a new, air conditioned bus, with nice seats to a beat up, falling apart piece of shit small truck. One must climb up over the tailgate to find a seat on one of the benches that lines the sides of the bed. Now keep in mind that this is a ship full of older folks for the most part. By older I mean 65 to 90. I do believe sticking these sorts of folks in such conditions is a major error. I know I was not very comfortable with the arrangements. However, in looking around I did not see any better vehicles anywhere. Once onboard we proceeded to wander around the desert. There were several stops to climb small hills for a better view, look at various sand and rock formations, and examine the writings found in the area. Other than the poor quality of the transportation this was great fun. As the sun set we arrived at a tent camp for dinner. Dinner consisted of salads of various sort, incredibly thin round bread, and various meats cooked on a grill or in a buried pot. As in Greece I see no one leaves Jordan hungry. After dinner it was off to the Movenpick hotel at the entrance to Petra. This is a nice hotel with typical rooms. The next morning it was off early to Petra to beat the crowds. The picture everyone sees of Petra is the Treasury. This is the most impressive structure. However, there are many others below it. To be sure we saw all of it the guide kept up a quick pace. It seems the round trip from the gate to the sign at the end that says to not enter without a guide back to the gate is six miles. The first three are downhill, but of course the other three are back up that same slope. I must say for the entire last mile my legs were quite tired. Petra is well worth the trek however. There are numerous but well behaved vendors in several parts of Petra. They sell tourist junk, rides down or up, and beverages. Everything is one dollar or ten dollars or whatever amount they like to begin with. One must bargain. It was funny when we passed the small store at the entrance to Petra inside the park the vendor was saying water one dollar to everyone headed down. When I popped back out after several hours the same vendor looked at the exhausted woman beside me, then says water 20 million dollars. I think she would have paid it. After this tour and lunch at the hotel it was back to the ship for the second stop in Egypt. The second stop in Egypt was at Safaga in order to drive to Luxor. This is a very long trip through an even more desolate part of the eastern desert than earlier. Once more we were off in a convoy. In Luxor we only had time for a few of the main sites due to the length of the drive there and back. It did not help that for this stop as well as the previous stop in Egypt we had the talkative guide. These two guides were both very knowledgeable. The problem was they wanted to transmit all of this knowledge to us before letting us go see what they were talking about. They talked so much we never had enough time to see anything. All in all I do not recommend using Safaga to access Luxor. It just does not allow enough time. We did do everything the tour description indicated, but at a shortened time at each stop. The drive back was the most eerie part of the trip so far. We had to gather up all of the buses in a holding area before six in the evening as it seems they close the highway from Luxor to Safaga at least for tourist and it looked like commercial trucks at that time. On forming up it was off to Safaga. Especially in this part of Egypt I have never seen so many checkpoints. Most consists of small metal barricades that the traffic weaves through. At each one of these there is a group of either tourist police or what looks like members of a neighborhood crime watch as they are dressed in native costume. The police carry sidearms and sometimes rifles as well. The crime watch members each had a long gun strung over their shoulder. I am not sure what the Egyptians are afraid of. I am also not convinced that if trouble started these fellows would prove to be very effective. I must say though there are certainly plenty of them. The purpose of these checkpoints is not clear as at most of them no one checks anything. The police just stand there as the vehicles weave in and out of the barricades. The drive back was the oddest experience of all the odd experiences in Egypt. On leaving Luxor we were the first bus right after the small security truck that led the way. At first this was a small Chevrolet pickup with no one in the back. Later it was a beat up issan pickup with two rifle toting fellows in the back. I assume this was actually a Nissan with the N missing. From Luxor we proceeded from the green zone along the Nile out to the desert. Periodically we would pass the small neighborhood stops as well as more formal checkpoints. The formal checkpoints recorded our arrival. The point being to check us in and out of each section of the route. If trouble occurs they know where to send help. Now how fast and effective that help would be I do not know. As we moved further out in the desert things became odder and odder. For example, about halfway across the desert section two busses that had been behind us somewhere came flying past our bus which was first. They then proceeded to cut into place between us and the lead truck. Now if you are in a convoy going the same speed to the same place what is the point. The busses travel about 60 km an hour about ten feet from each other. After the two maniacs got settled into place we stopped for a while at a large checkpoint. The point to this was said to be to allow some other busses to catch-up. Catch-up? Were we not supposed to be in a convoy? So how did anyone fall behind? After waiting for a while the last bus appeared. According to some other passengers I talked to later at this stop we exchanged escort trucks. I could not see this as we were now the third bus in line. After we left this checkpoint a few miles out in the desert something flashed by the right side of our bus. The bus in front pulled out suddenly into the opposing lane. We sashayed slightly sideways after sliding along the sand at the edge of the road. After all of this bouncing around everyone formed back up and motored on. Our driver engaged in some discussion with the tour guide in Arabic. Later I was told we were not expected at the last checkpoint. Hum, I thought we were being checked in and out of each checkpoint? The escort had to be awakened for us to continue the trip. This appeared to irritate them. The result being he decided to proceed at a slower pace than the lead bus driver wanted to go. So the lead driver just ran him off the road and went on. The escort truck was what flashed by our right side as he was traveling down the sand shoulder of the road at that point having been runoff the road by the lead bus. Crazy Egyptians. We finally made it back to Safaga without further incident except on hitting the city limit all discipline in the convoy broke down. The drivers began to race to see who could get to the dock's checkpoint first. As I said crazy Egyptians. All in all I am not sure what to make of all of this tourist related security. It is certainly entertaining. I am just not certain how effective it is in either deterring attacks or in responding to one. Being a heavily armed Texan I would prefer to just pack my own firearms and watch out for myself. As we did not leave Egypt until the afternoon of the next day Mrs Paint Horse and I decided to try snorkeling in the Red Sea. We have done this quite a bit in the Caribbean. I must say the little we did in the Red Sea was better. The fish are everywhere as are interesting coral formations. Safaga itself offers nothing I can see to induce anyone to visit despite the interesting water. I was surprised to see several hotels on the beach. You could not pay me enough money to vacation in Safaga. Not only do you have to fly into Cairo you must then fly to Hurghada, and from there drive to Safaga. The water is nice, but not that nice. In summary Egypt was worth the short visit. However, Mrs Paint Horse and I do not appear to get along to well with this country. On arrival in Cairo my nose started running and itching. It continued this until we left. I assume I was allergic to the pollution. I have never seen such thick haze. On leaving Safaga I developed diarrhea and the Mrs Paint Horse a sinus infection. I have no idea where either one of these maladies came from. It is interesting to note that in the few blocks of the city we passed from the ship to the dive center we passed six pharmacies. It makes me wonder if they have a built-in business. When the ship left I was more than ready to go. Sea Day After the intensive number of ports visited at the beginning of this voyage it was thankfully time for three sea days as we transited through the Red Sea and on to Oman. The first sea day was spent recovering from Egypt. The only thing I did was write this trip report and attend a presentation on the security that would be in effect as we sailed through the Gulf of Aden. Regent arranged for a Royal Navy Commander to travel with us from Safaga. He held a talk on the state of the piracy problem in the area. His main point was if there was any danger to this ship, he would not have come aboard. As the route we traveled through the area is far from the trouble zone there is no reason for concern. Besides a cruise ship is an undesirable target for pirates. It travels too fast, the freeboard is too high, and there are way too many people to try to control. Besides if pirates actually succeeded in boarding a cruise ship holding some 1,500 passengers and crew every warship and aircraft in the region would surround them. The only security detail he would provide was to explain that the desired way to travel through the 26 hour danger zone is to group ships of like speed together. They then proceed as a mass. By the time they reach the main problem area all of the ships of various speeds end up together. In our case our speed is higher than any other ship so we proceeded at high-speed alone, but in the same area as everyone else. It was an interesting talk. Later in the day the ship's newsletter announced that access to the lower outside decks would be cutoff until we had passed the danger area. This was the only obvious security measure the ship took. This day also demonstrated the advantage to traveling by cruise ship. As mentioned above my wife came down with a bad case of sinusitis and I with a mild case of diarrhea. No doubt from merely being in Safaga. With a doctor onboard the ship it was a simple, but expensive, matter of treatment for both conditions. It is good these problems happened on the first of three sea days. A disadvantage of traveling by ship also appeared tonight when a massive amount of bubbles of some sort came boiling up out of the tub, shower, and bidet. Being on a ship in the middle of the Red Sea it is difficult to change rooms or hotels. All in all it was an exciting day I must say. Sea Day At breakfast on the second sea day I noticed the staff were serving the items on the buffet rather than the guests doing so. I learned later than there were now several cases of GI problems on board. This procedure along with a stronger sanitizing solution all over the ship was directed at stopping any spread of this. The plumber dropped by to clean out the pipes. The result was some but not much improvement in the bubbles in the bathroom. Sea Day The last sea day was spent in the Gulf of Aden. The number of ship sightings went way up. This must be a busy place. Some ships passed us going west while we passed other slower vessels headed east. We also picked up a naval escort which stayed just off our stern for several hours. Right before dark as we were exited the Gulf of Aden a military helicopter circled us several times. It then hovered off the port side so everyone could take a photograph. I assume this was to prove to us that the military was on the job. Salalah After three sea days the next stop was the first of two in Oman. This first stop was in Salalah at the southern end of Oman. This is basically a container port city. We docked at the far end of the container port. As the ship was late in arriving, we have an Italian captain you see, the tour of the city was somewhat abbreviated. The main point was to get an overview of the city. For this tour we visited the museum. This provided a look at the history of Oman both on land and sea. We also stopped at a fruit and vegetable market, as well as a souk. The main point to the souk visit was to buy frankincense. Oman is a new tourist stop. As such there is not much infrastructure for visitors just yet. The city leaves a very good impression on one however. Sea Day As it is six hundred miles to the next Oman stop at Muscat a sea day is required. Most of this day was spent reading and doing research for an article on wireless Internet access onboard ships. Muscat Muscat is a very nice city. As tourism in Oman is new there is also little infrastructure for tourist here. But the city is certainly worth a visit. At a minimum one should visit the Grand Mosque. This tour allows you to tour the entire site including inside the worship areas. There is also a museum that discusses the history of Oman similar to the one in Salalah. The souk near the waterfront is one of the more interesting ones we visited in the Middle East. It has the winding closed in look one expects of this type of market. Of course most of the things for sale are junk, but it is interesting nevertheless. Overall Oman is the cleanest, best run country we visited. It is an excellent example of how well a country can function when it has a benevolent despot as the head of the country. Dubai The last stop was Dubai. This is a much larger city than I thought it would be. We docked at the far end of the city in an industrial area. As it is very hazy photographs are difficult to take here. The ship stayed docked overnight after arriving about 2 pm. As we were to disembark the next day the first task was to pack the eight bags we brought onboard two weeks ago. After the repacking we took the ship provided shuttle to the Mall of the Emirates. This is now the second largest mall in the UAE. This is indeed a massive place. Inside is a sky slope. After buying several pieces of junk it was back to the ship. On the next day we left the ship. In between leaving the ship and boarding the DXB to LHR flight we toured Dubai with a tour guide. This high speed tour went from one end of the city to the other. Stops included an excellent museum in the old section, a ride on a water taxi, strolls through the spice and jewelry souks, drives though the main sections of the city, lunch at KFC, and a stop at the Atlantis hotel for a visit to the aquarium. English and American Culture At each stop I was amazed at how pervasive the English language and American culture are. In many of the countries English is more widely spoken than the native language due to the large number of immigrants. An example of the use of English and American culture was the lunch stop in Dubai at the KFC. The menu is in English with only a few Arabic subtitles. Ordering is done entirely in English. This was true to some extent or the other in every country we visited. DXB to LHR The flight from DXB to LHR was to be in F in the nose of a BA 747 in seats 2A and 3A. The only problem with the flight was the revised departure time from 2 to 3 am. Yes, 3 am in the morning. As the tour of Dubai ended at 6 pm I arranged to stay and eat dinner at a hotel. The Park Hyatt although lower in cost than most hotels I looked at in Dubai proved to be very nice, except for the lack of light. This seems to be a trend in hotel design. We arrived after dark. The hotel lobby was dark. All of the hallways were dark. In many cases the only light was provided by candles. The room was very dark as there are no overhead lights. Just dim lamps. The room itself was odd as well. On checking in the desk clerk stated we had been upgraded to a spa room. This room proved to be a slightly larger room with a spa table near the door. Beside the spa table was a sink which made sense. However, on the other side of the room was another sink. This one was between the desk and the window. Now what the purpose of it was is beyond me. In addition the shower could have held at least ten people standing or sitting on the bench that went all the way around the walls of the shower. I would certainly stay at this Hyatt again, but only if I pack several lanterns. The view from the room faced the creek that separates the city. We ate at the restaurant on site. This is the Cafe Arabesque. It features selections from several Middle Eastern countries. The food is very well prepared. At the airport things began to deteriorate. First I find that at DXB one submits their own bags for the security check. This meant maneuvering all eight bags through a long line to a scanner machine. Once there you must place each one on the conveyor. Then after the scan each bags must be loaded back up for the trip to the check in desk. Quite odd. At the check in desk I showed the agent the paper showing both the BA and the AA flights on the same record. He seemed a little uncertain about checking the bags all the way through to DFW, but he managed to produce a label with LHR and DFW both on it. He even issued the AA boarding passes. The next step was to walk from the check in desk, inside a secured area remember, to the gate while passing yourself and the carryon bags through not one, but three security checks in different parts of the terminal. At the last one the scanner operator objected to the sharp points on the 3/8ths inch long blades on the cuticle scissors I have passed through various airports with for years. Now what someone would do with cuticle scissors is beyond me. After walking for miles we arrived at the BA lounge which is also several miles past the gate for the flight. This must be one of the most dismal lounges in the BA system. It is small. No one cleans the tables off. But most of all it is way too crowded. Once at the gate when they called the flight to begin boarding I found that the entire population of the back of the aircraft was composed of gate lice as they paid no attention to the loading order. Once onboard I found another excellent BA crew including a CSD who introduced herself to everyone in the F cabin. As this was a 3 am in the morning flight all I did was wait for takeoff, then change clothes to sleep. Sleep I did on an aircraft for once. I did not eat on awakening as the plan was to wait until the Arrivals Lounge in T5 was reached. I was pleased to actually arrive at a gate instead of a remote stand requiring a bus. However, I had noticed that the terminal building seemed somewhat small. Sure enough we had arrived at T5B. The journey to T5 required a train ride. This was short and easy. Once in T5 proper the next step was to find the Arrivals Lounge. This turned out to require a trip through Border Control as the lounge is outside the secured area. The officer at the desk was quite alright with our six hour visit to the United Kingdom. The Arrivals Lounge was located with a couple of more questions of various staff members I accosted. Breakfast was soon served inside the Concorde Dining Room. While small it is nicer than the plastic tables and chairs in the main eating area. After breakfast we tried out various chairs in the lounge while waiting for time to move on to T3. LHR to DFW The return flight from LHR to DFW was on AA as the BA flight was full for some strange reason. On Sundays AA has two flights within a few hours of each other. The first one is three class service on a 777. The second one is two class on a 767. I do not know why they run two so different flights. After sitting for a few hours in the Arrivals Lounge in T5 it was time to navigate to T3. Not knowing how long it would take I allowed two hours. The method suggested by the BA staff in the lounge was to take the Heathrow Express. This is a subway. On arriving at the station we were directed to the front of the train as we were to get off at Heathrow Central. The ride was free, and only took a few minutes. The only trick is to be sure you get off at the first stop. Otherwise you will find yourself at Paddington Station in London. On arriving at the central station I assumed we would board another train. You do not. Instead there is a lengthy hike from the station up to the outside of T3. This is quite a walk. On arriving outside T3 the sign boards provide direction to which section of the building to go to for the airline of interest. In this case it was B for AA. In Section B the AA gates are 1-42. I could only find one very, very busy security area. As we walked past the extremely long line I spotted a Fast Track section. This line was about 1/20th the length of the other line. Despite the complaints I have found the BAA security staff to be very helpful. More so than the US staff. In this case we managed to have an oversized bottle confiscated, a watch run through by itself, and myself patted down and wanded. I told my wife the bottle was twice the acceptable size. Nevertheless she tried sneaking it through. If they had not shifted the staff around just as we approached it would have worked. Unfortunately the Sikh gentleman was more observant than his predecessor. I set of the detector as I forgot to remove a watch from my pocket. This resulted in a pat down and wanding. Just to be thorough they ran the watch through the scanner by itself. The pat down was proper but quite comprehensive shall we say. I must say for all of the abuse of the BAA staff I have read on FT in all cases the BAA staff at LHR could not have been more friendly or helpful. For example, Mrs Paint Horse is quit worn out. I should have traded her in long ago. She has a bad back and bad knees among other problems. Walking is difficult at times. A cane helps somewhat. As we traversed the marathon to gate 42 she asked a BA staff member if a cart ride could be arranged. She explained that they did not do that. It was another agency, in other words BAA. She did ask a BAA staff member walking by if they would take us to the gate, which they did. The AA flight also required a procedure I had not seen before. All of the passengers were required to check in at the gate desk even if you already had the boarding pass. This was required at least in our case in order to have the bags loaded on the aircraft. Gate lice were not in evidence at LHR. After boarding we once again found ourselves on a full AA flight. Despite reading this morning that AA has lost quite a bit of money in the latest quarter once again we found a completely full flight. At ten hours this is the longest flight I have been on. I was somewhat concerned at spending this time in a J seat, but I found the current J seats to be just fine for this daylight flight. I understand that there not being fully flat some find sleeping in them to be difficult. As I did not sleep they were fine. The flight was also made more pleasant by the best crew I have ever seen on any aircraft from the beginning of time to date. The purser in particular was friendly, funny, and informative. Although a J class cabin was the highest on this flight the crew served the lunch and before landing snack from the galley course by course, even using a blue tablecloth over the seat tray. The food was of course airline food, but not bad. Desert was the famous sundae. After lunch they dimmed the cabin for those who wanted to sleep such as Mrs Paint Horse. Following my adjust to the arrival city time to avoid jet lag plan I treated this as daytime for the whole way. As we droned on the cabin crew made numerous checks through the cabin. They even enforced the use the lavatory in your own section rule. Quite a good crew. The arrival at DFW brought once more new experience. On leaving the aircraft I found that one clears customs and border control with the declaration form then you must proceed to collect the bags for one more screening. This once again meant hauling all eight bags from the baggage claim to the outside world. Sure enough despite my concern not only did the bags arrive, but so did the car service. At last we were back home. I do believe the thing I missed most was being able to get a full glass of ice with someone looking at me as if I were crazy. It must be a Texas thing as we are always hot you see. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Where do I even begin to describe the best cruise we have been on? I guess, like everyone else, I need to start at the beginning. GETTING THERE Getting from Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa is a daunting task. We used ... Read More
Where do I even begin to describe the best cruise we have been on? I guess, like everyone else, I need to start at the beginning. GETTING THERE Getting from Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa is a daunting task. We used Regent Air (with a deviation so we could arrive a day early and select our own hotel). We flew British Airways Business Class from Vancouver to Heathrow. . .had a 5 hour layover and then on to Cape Town. Total air time (excludes layover) - 20 hours. We left on Wednesday and arrived on Friday. We enjoy the seats and service on British Air. The lounge in Heathrow is lovely - had enough time to shower, eat, drink and do emails. PRE-CRUISE We contacted a company that picked us up at the airport and transported us to the Peninsula Hotel. This is not your typical "Peninsula Hotel" - it is a 3 star, lovely hotel - not fancy or modern. The staff could not have been better. In the afternoon they set out wine and juice in the lobby. We took a shuttle bus into the main part of town where we noticed that the Voyager was already docked. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the next day to embark. We had a delicious fish dinner with a pint of local beer for a very reasonable price. The breakfast in the morning was local cuisine with wonderful fruit, omelet bar and the makings for a typical English breakfast (English bacon, beans, cooked tomato half and mushrooms). After breakfast, we were picked up for a 3-hour tour by the same driver we had the previous day. It would take a professional writer to describe this area - we were in awe of the beauty we encountered around every curve on this very scenic drive. We stopped to see the penguins. It was quite a sight to see penguins on a sandy beach in South Africa. Also saw baboons on the side of the road. Quick side story: In the outskirts of Cape Town, if you do not shut your house up completely, you will find that your home has been invaded by baboons. If a window is left open just a small amount, they send their babies in to retrieve the goods and pass them through the window. EMBARKATION Embarkation is almost always easy on Regent. We were on segment 4 of the Discovery Collection, so, there were not many people embarking. They used a small room for registration rather than the theater. After spending three minutes or so checking in, we headed up to La Veranda for a delicious lunch. Side note: There were quite a few crew members leaving on vacation at different ports on the Discovery Collection. Although we had been on the Voyager only 2 months earlier, a lot of the staff had changed. We saw some of the "old crew" departing as we were embarking. THE FOOD Dining in Compass Rose was always a wonderful experience. Upon recommendation of the Maitre 'D in La Veranda, we asked to be seated by Joey (a Head Waiter) and were seated in the section where Steven was server. I will write more about these people in the "Service" section. The soups were always hot, the food prepared as ordered and everything was delicious. No long story - just 6 star food on a 6 star ship. In the past, La Veranda had been hit and miss. One reason for this could simply be that the food is not prepared at the time you order it, but, rather is prepared in batches. Everyone has different tastes and I cannot say that you will love everything that is offered each day. I tended to take tiny portions of dishes I was unsure about (local dishes that I am not familiar with, for example). Inevitably I returned to get more (and more and more - but, that's another story). On this cruise, every time we had Signatures booked, we were unable to make it and had to cancel. So, there is no report on Signatures. Prime 7 had the only "hiccup" of the cruise. We booked Prime 7 for the first night we were on board. The staff had just changed, the Restaurant Manager had not arrived and things were not as they should be (with the exception of service). I relayed the story to someone with no expectation that she would follow-up with the Restaurant Manager, Luis Texeira Luis stopped by our table the next day in La Veranda and convinced us to give Prime 7 another try. The second time around, everything was total perfection. SERVICE The crew on board the Voyager during our cruise was perfect. The staff in the restaurants, the butler, the stewardess, bartenders. . .I could go on and on. Although the staff moves around through a rotation process which takes them on each of Regent's ships, you may be lucky enough to meet these exceptional people on one of your future cruises (and I apologize in advance for those whose names I cannot recall). Englebert Lanier Wartenberg, Hotel Manager. This is a man that cares deeply about both Regent and the guests on the ship. He is accessible and will do his best to insure that you have a wonderful cruise. Anthony Miller, Food and Beverage Manager. We had a lovely chat with Anthony and learned that he accompanied Captain Dag when he dove into the water to check out the fishing net that was entangled in Voyager's pod earlier this year. They spent an hour cutting the net off of the pod - unfortunately, water had seeped into the electronics. It was a very interesting story and he is a very lovely man. Luis Texeira, as mention above, Luis took immediate action when he learned of our experience in Prime 7. He seemed to be everywhere on the ship - one minute I would see him in La Veranda - then in Compass Rose and in Prime 7. He is aware of everything that is going on in all the dining venues. Luis will be on the Navigator this month to work with the team that will be opening Prime 7. I have no doubt that, under his guidance, it will be a success. Abigail, Maitre 'D of La Veranda. Abigail was on our cruise two months ago. In addition to being efficient and professional, she is one of the nicest people you could meet (and was the person who let Luis know about our experience in Prime 7) Joey, Head Waiter in Compass Rose and La Veranda in the morning (lunch too, as I recall). He makes certain that your dining experience is what you expect it to be. He is charming! Craig, Sommelier (formerly on the Paul Gauguin). We dine early and had the chance to speak with Craig on a few occasions. He is a "Master Sommelier" - there are very few Sommelier's with that designation. He knows his wine (and beer too:-) Steven, Waiter (want to call him Waiter Supreme). He always serves in Compass Rose in the evening. You may see him in La Veranda in the morning or at lunch. He goes where he is needed. We received impeccable service from Steven. He and my DH are from Britain and they had a nice time sharing stories. We are looking forward to seeing him again on the Navigator this spring. Francisco, Assistant Head Waiter, Compass Rose. I just had to add Francisco to the list. He has been with Regent (Radisson) since the beginning and recently received a much deserved promotion! Adriana (very misspelled - there is a "j" in her name somewhere) who serves wine in La Veranda. She is simply delightful. PORTS This was a South Atlantic crossing - not many ports which was a perfect opportunity to spend time on the ship. Cape Town - We signed up for a tour to an Ostrich Farm and wine tasting. This was an excellent tour (not one of the free ones, but, worth considerably more than what we paid). We had 6 tastings of lovely South African wine. At the farm we were able to sit on an ostrich and stroke his/her long neck. Note: We are animal lovers and do not feel the ostrich was hurt in any way. Namibia - We fell in love with both Namibia and Cape Town. The people in South Africa that we met are open, warm and giving of themselves. Our first tour was "Seal & Dolphins". In addition to seeing the seals, dolphins and flamingo's, a "snack" of oysters on the half shell and a tray of little canapE type dishes. They poured some sparkling wine and gave tastes of a local liquor. Outstanding! The "Township" tour touched our lives forever. It included seeing how hard these people have been working to better their lives. We saw the old "concentration camp" type facilities where they were housed and the new little homes with plumbing, water and electricity where they now live. They are so proud of what they have. The tour guide took us inside of his home which was quite a treat. A small buffet of local food was also prepared for us (quite good). Unfortunately, some people on the tour felt the excursion was "too realistic". Some would not get off the bus - most would not touch the food. I found this very sad. We visited a school and were touched by the children as well as the principal. If anyone is going to do this tour in the future, please bring an old laptop with you that is no longer needed -- the school has only one broken down computer. You can't ship them as it would never get to them. Just wish I knew in advance. St. Helena - The ship only stops for approximately 6 hours. The excursion on St. Helena was very good (and was one of the free ones). There are so few people on the island that it was a challenge to find enough vehicles to take us around the island. They used vans, a vintage car (well, not vintage - just very old), a school bus - just about anything with wheels. This was a wonderful port - glad that Regent stopped there (could have spent more time in the town). Rio - We took the tour that includes a train up to the "Christ the Redeemer" monument. It was lovely - the views spectacular. However, it was extremely sad to see the condition of the city. Graffiti in places that you would not think people could get to. . . . incredible traffic. . . . crime in this city would make anyone feel unsafe (cannot wear a watch as it is almost guaranteed to be taken. . . . women wearing necklaces or chains can have them pulled off of their necks). Some people will disagree with me about this city and they are free to do so. If you are with a tour group you will be safe. We will not be returning to Rio de Janeiro and hope they somehow get their city together in the next 6 years when they host the Olympics. ON THE SHIP This was a Spotlight on Food and Wine and Dance. There were many things to keep us occupied on the sea days (7 out of 14 days were sea days). We took Samba lessons, attended wine tastings, food demonstrations, attended "trivia" daily. . . . there was no way a person could have been bored on this cruise. With the perfect weather every day (except the last day in Rio), there were many people simply lying in the sun on the pool deck. DISEMBARKATION AND FLYING HOME Unfortunately, almost all flights out of Rio are at night and, as you know, you disembark in the morning. For guests with Regent Air, they set up a room in the Sofitel Hotel where we could leave our luggage. While not the most comfortable place (and they really should have provided bottled water), it was better than going to the airport. The rain was heavy - we ventured out to a small mall down the street and had lunch at a local restaurant next to the hotel (incredibly good Portuguese chicken and rice soup). The typically 1 hour drive to the airport took 3 hours as it was a Friday and a special weekend in Rio. The local Regent representative was in contact with the airport - they kept the doors to the plane open until we arrived - checked in - cleared passport control and got onto to the flight. The one thing I was not looking forward to on this trip was flying United Airlines (three flights to get home). United's service ratings have been amongst the lowest of all U.S. carriers. We found the service to be very good, some of the food excellent and were very pleased and surprised. The Business Class seats were the old type (not even semi-flat) and have not been upgraded on the 777 aircrafts as yet. We would fly United again (on the planes that have been upgraded). CONCLUSION We obviously have nothing but positive things to say about this cruise. Our only question is what to book next (in addition to our Alaska cruise in May 2010). The prices for 2010/2011 are quite high, perhaps due to the included excursions. This was our first taste of included excursions. While they are well organized and enjoyable, it appears that this "benefit" is raising the prices a bit too much. Between "free" airfare and "free" excursions, Regent is pricing itself above it's competition and out of the reach of many passengers. We continue to look at itineraries on Silversea and Seabourn. . . . however, at the end of the day, there is no place like home -- on the Voyager. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
GETTING TO NZ: We flew to Auckland a week early on Air New Zealand using Regent's upgrade to Business Class for $999. It was worth every penny. Being able to sleep for nearly 8 hours was terrific. I tried and tried but could not find ... Read More
GETTING TO NZ: We flew to Auckland a week early on Air New Zealand using Regent's upgrade to Business Class for $999. It was worth every penny. Being able to sleep for nearly 8 hours was terrific. I tried and tried but could not find a better deal on the net.The business class seats are a bit tight on shoulder room if you are a big guy. We spent a week touring the wineries of the North Island (if you do this do not miss Lime Rock Wines in Central Hawke's Bay--best pinot noir of the trip) We spent the night before the cruise at the Hilton at the wharf. A bit pricey but the porters will take you luggage to the ship. We had dinner with 10 other Cruise Critic members the night before the cruise in White the upscale restaurant in the Hilton. Nice, very nice. EMBARCATION: Lousy but not Regent's fault. Everyone showed up around noon (instead of the listed 3pm time) and the NZ customs folks were understaffed and had computers not working properly. Spent over an hour in a room overfilled with fellow guests. Once on board it went smoothly. ON BOARD-lovely cabin (but smaller and not as well laid out as the Voyager.) Ronald, our cabin steward was the best we have ever had. Crew was very friendly and helpful. Food was always at least very good-often excellent. They would go out of their way to accommodate requests. Once I remarked to the head waiter that I loved Philippines food. He offered to have ponsit for me for lunch the next day--it was excellent. The entertainers were more than happy to sit and have a drink with you. I dined with the comedian and the violist. We got to know the Celebrity singers who were talented and friendly. If you were nice, the crew responded in kind.   My only complaint is about the pool. On the Voyage there is a staircase that leads into the water. On this ship there is only a vertical ladder with an extra large step at the top. For those of us with bad knees and/or ankles, it is quite difficult. The wine lecturer, a prof. from Cornell, was superb! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We arrived in Auckland the day before the cruise. We flew Air New Zealand using Regent's air program and the $999 business class upgrade, which was a steal for a flight from SFO to Auckland. We stayed at the Westin, which was not far ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland the day before the cruise. We flew Air New Zealand using Regent's air program and the $999 business class upgrade, which was a steal for a flight from SFO to Auckland. We stayed at the Westin, which was not far from the Port and was quite lovely. Embarkation was a little rough, but this was due to the fact they had only one customs agent at the Port. Once a second one showed up, the line moved fairly quickly. We boarded, went to La Veranda and had some lunch and then went to our suite, a Horizon Suite on Deck 7. CABIN The Horizon suite is a wonderful suite. The living room is separated from the bedroom, and the room has an enormous walk-in closet. The lines were Anichini; the beds had pillow-top mattresses and were amazingly comfortable. Two flat screen televisions, an iPod dock, a small safe, both Regent and Hermes bath products in the bathroom. We had the shower only setup, but the shower was large and fine for us. The balcony for the Horizon Suites on deck 7 are 175 sq ft, but it was still very large with a two seat couch, two separate chairs, and coffee table and a large table for dining. The room gets an A. DINING Open seating dining in Compass Rose and reservations required for Signatures (Le Cordon Bleu French) and Prime 7 (steak house). La Veranda was the most casual with a la carte ordering but also an antipasto buffet and desert buffet. Food fairly good across the board but we preferred Signatures. Many passengers seemed to love Prime 7. Service a bit slow at times in main dining room, but not awful. PORTS The most amazing ports were Bora Bora, Moorea, and Rarotonga, especially for those who like snorkeling. We snorkeled in all of these via Regents included excursions, and the excursions were all really good. A lot of passengers did not book the free excursions prior to sailing and then found very little was available. There was much complaining about this, but we had booked our months before the sailing. The least wonderful port was Papeete on the main island of Tahiti. We arrived there at 9:00pm and departed the next day around 3 pm. Snorkeling here was okay, but there was little time to look around. That said, many passengers were grumbling about how rundown Papeete was. ACTIVITIES There were a lot of sea days on this trip, and I worried before sailing I might be bored out of my mind. That said, Regent did a fantastic job scheduling lectures, classes, and other activities on these days. The sea days were wonderful, better than I expected. OVERALL This was an amazing cruise, and we met many passengers who had done this exact cruise on this exact ship several times previously! I would do it again but next year a different ship and itinerary will be used. There has been some grumbling on-line about fall off in service, but I only had one poor service experience with one server at dinner. I had not sailed Regent before, but I will definitely be sailing them again. The Seven Seas Mariner is a lovely ship, well-maintained, with good food, consistently good service throughout the sailing, and wonderful crew that smiles and addresses you every time they see you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Our arrival in Rio was a bit fraught, with long airport queues for immigration and customs followed by an "interesting" 90 minutes in a Rio gridlock. We arrived at our hotel in Copacabana at 1.30am Rio time (3.30am UK time) fit ... Read More
Our arrival in Rio was a bit fraught, with long airport queues for immigration and customs followed by an "interesting" 90 minutes in a Rio gridlock. We arrived at our hotel in Copacabana at 1.30am Rio time (3.30am UK time) fit only for bed and sleep. We arrived at the port to board the Voyager at 1.30pm next day. I would like to describe the embarkation process but it was so quick and efficient that we were in La Verandah eating lunch before we knew it! Our cabin - or should one say suite or stateroom - was everything we expected. It was spacious and well laid out and proved to be ideal for our 14 day cruise. Our stewardess quickly introduced herself and was always friendly and efficient, keeping the cabin immaculate. The bed was exceptionally comfortable and we slept well every night - although the alcohol may have helped. What about the food. I thought the food was very good at all times. Breakfast was usually in La Verandah, although we had room service on a few occasions and had a more formal breakfast in Compass Rose only the once. All these options were good in their own way and we always had whatever we wanted. Apart from one occasion we had lunch in Le Verandah or at the pool grill. The special barbecues and themed lunches were very good but, one day, how could I choose berween two of my favourite dishes, bouillabaisse and paella, both of which were very well executed. I took the easy, if greedy option of having both. The one criticism here was that it was not always very easy to dine al fresco as there were never enough tables outside. We had lunch in Compass Rose just the once. Some friends organised a special curry lunch and it was magnificent. As a curry afficionado I have to say that it ranked with the very best - and I think the Lamb Madras was the best I have ever had. We never had dinner in La Verandah so I cannot comment on that venue. Signatures (once) was absolutely superb, as was Prime 7 (twice). To be very picky, the steaks in Prime 7 were underseasoned - but that was easily remedied with a bit of DIY at the table. Our usual dinner venue was Compass Rose and this was always very enjoyable. We never experienced one bad meal or wrong order. Wine service was sometimes a little slow - not the fault of the wine waiters as there occasionally seemed too few of them. The wines themselves were good enough with plenty of choice always available. "Good enough" may seem like damning with faint praise, but they were right for the location. Finer wines would not have been appropriate in my opinion, as storage on a ship is not conducive to the health of fine wines. I should also add that I think the pastry chef did a magnificent job. We were lucky to be given a galley tour by the Executive Chef. This was very interesting in itself, but now having an understanding of the difficulties of provisioning and the effect of climate conditions on, for example, bread making I think the cuisine on the ship was probably as good as it could get (at least for that part of the world). There we a few niggles - eggs benedict not on the menu, the tea served was too weak for my taste, coffee was served before dessert rather than after, courses were served too quickly and a few others. However, I quickly learned that there was a simple solution - just ask! Magically, everything was then as I liked it or, in the case of the eggs benedict, available in every location. The waiters did an excellent job. Service was always just right - and in Compass Rose this must have been a very difficult task for the waiters as the design of the chairs severely hampered their movement. Bar service was generally good, although in places and at times it could be slow. Again, not the fault of the staff working, but a management issue. Excursions were good and always interesting. There was crowding sometimes - particularly in Salvador - but this wasn't a major issue. The one big shock for me was the rudeness and downright ignorance of a small minority of the passengers. Some appear to have a vocabulary that omits "please" and "thank you"; some were actually offensive to the staff;some complained long and loudly about very trivial issues. At trivia one afternoon, when setting a space for my team I was told "you can't sit there - we always sit there" - being a stoic Brit I simply moved rather than responding in a suitably Anglo-Saxon way. And was I also surprised at the venom that was spat by some players when they didn't agree with the answer to a question! The icing on the cake was the fiasco at disembarkation where some passengers ignored the very clear instructions and left before their colour was called. This resulted in a strike by the porters and a much delayed exit. This must have been a worry for those with early flights - a situation caused by the selfishness of a few others. (Actually, the delay for us probably wasn't an entirely bad thing, given the torrential rain outside!) Finally, I must mention the added enjoyment from Terry Breen's lectures. Superb! So, all in all, an excellent and enjoyable cruise. However, I do fail to see why we were told in advance that yellow fever jabs were mandatory, when clearly they were not. It was also a huge disappointment that, because the engine problems, we could not visit Antigua. I accept that such situations do happen but I do not think it was handled very well. I will not dwell on this except to say that the way it was (or was not) handled was much more concerning than the missed port call itself. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our 9th Regent cruise, our 3rd on Voyager. It tends to be our favourite ship, although we have not cruised on Mariner. (The Paul Gauguin doesn't count; it's in a league of its own, and no longer part of the Regent ... Read More
This was our 9th Regent cruise, our 3rd on Voyager. It tends to be our favourite ship, although we have not cruised on Mariner. (The Paul Gauguin doesn't count; it's in a league of its own, and no longer part of the Regent family.) We chose this route for the time of year, the embarkation port (Rio), and the value--since this was kind of a "vertical crossing", we thought it would be a good way of testing our tolerance of sea days--we'd previously had two in a row on the Paul Gauguin, but here there were 7 scheduled sea days, with the longest stretch being 3 in a row. This turned out to be plenty for us, not sure we would do a crossing, at least not for another decade. After a fantastic pre-cruise stay in Rio, we boarded the ship and peeked immediately into our splurge Penthouse B suite. Again, this was an excellent value on this itinerary and it was very worthwhile, although I would not do this on most itineraries where the additional cost over a standard suite is considerable. But the PH is lovely--not a lot bigger than standard, but laid out wonderfully well, with an extra window, and squareish rather than long. We also loved having a butler; this was a real treat for us. Our room was spotless and maintained very nicely throughout with good service from both butler and stewardess. The ship is in fine shape, having been refurbished about a year ago. Loved the enlarge Coffee Connection. Did not notice a lot of other changes except for the dining room decor--the seating in Compass Rose is really dreadful--the chairs are much too big and heavy for the room and make getting around very awkward. Why couldn't they choose something light and airy like La Veranda? Dining was fairly uniformly very good, although steaks disappointed us several times. We had breakfast most frequently in La Veranda, and it got very high ratings from us--the staff were very gracious and helpful. We breakfasted in Compass Rose several times, and that was very nice too, although food service was sometimes extremely slow. Lunch was shared between La Veranda and Compass Rose, both very good, with the odd foray into the Pool Grill buffet. The weather was terribly hot for much of the cruise, so eating al fresco was not too comfortable, and yes, the tables were always crowded. But I dipped into the buffet at times anyways, but sat in La Veranda in the cool! We dined three times in Signatures (once for a private function), and the food was great. We only got into Prime 7 once, and I had an excellent meal (Dover sole), although David a disappointing one. Reservations were hard to get there, although walking by at dinner time often cadged a cancellation. We also ate in La Veranda several times and had surprising great meals--we were very pleased with this, since I had remembered the food being rather tired. Compass Rose dining was also very good, although again with a slight inconsistency in the quality of meats. Soups everywhere were excellent! Provisioning had problems in Rio with produce, so we saw yellow tomatoes most of the cruise; other shortages were covered pretty well, since I didn't notice them. Onboard activities were numerous, although between sitting on my balcony (fortunately the shady side for most of the trip), and napping, we didn't do much--made it to trivia a couple of times, too late to play, did music trivia (badly done), a dance class that was fun, and the white elephant auction, which was really fun to watch. I really did not like the cruise director, Lorraine. Why can't they relax a bit and act like humans? Entertainment. Hmm. I don't want to dismiss the Mabel Mercer Foundation since we did not attend more than a few minutes at a time. I could not stand what the male singer was doing to Cole Porter, so we left. I missed seeing KT Sullivan, but others thought she was good. The house band is very good, I must say, with a good pianist. The dancers/singers who do the shows at night, let's just say, they are babies. They are talented, but the shows are very over-produced for my taste. The lounge pianist was fine, not great. The duo in the Voyager lounge was quite good, but nobody paid them any attention most nights, kind of sad (one corner is smoking, which means that many people avoid this place--they should cut out smoking there completely.) "PTV At Sea" put on some interesting lectures, but after a while the US-centric discussions got me down--don't really want to think about politics on a cruise anyway, but some focus on the rest of the planet would have been nice. We did learn that this program is designed to induce major donors to commit to public television, so now we know--I would not bother doing this again. The itinerary was very nice, given that it was, as I say, a vertical crossing. We got to go over the equator, and the pollywog induction ceremony was wild and woolly, with many passengers being doused with goop and then thrown into the pool (I demurred.) We missed a port because of engine problems, but this doesn't phase me, this happens enough that I was not too put out. Weather at this time of year, south of and close to the equator is extremely hot. If I went at this time of year again, I'd stick to the temperate parts of South America. The crowd was also fairly geriatric, although quite varied in age (from 50's to 90's), and country (well over a hundred from the U.K. for example.) And again, San Juan unexpectedly turned out to be the highlight--what a wonderful port! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
From our first greeting at Port Everglades ("Welcome to Navigator"), to our easy disembarkation 1 week later we had a stress-free time. We arrived and soon found ourselves being greeted with champagne and then eating lunch on the ... Read More
From our first greeting at Port Everglades ("Welcome to Navigator"), to our easy disembarkation 1 week later we had a stress-free time. We arrived and soon found ourselves being greeted with champagne and then eating lunch on the pool deck. My DH needed some Advil so he asked one of the men in suits (sorry, I don't know the names of anyone..I'll refer to them as MIS) who directed him to the reception desk where he was quickly accommodated. When we later saw him he inquired if my DH needed any further help. We went to our cabin (lovely) and met our butler, Ishan, who made us feel welcome. We explored the ship..she looks lovely. We noticed a vibration the first night in Compass Rose, but not so much on subsequent nights. There was a LOT of vibration one day in La Veranda as the ship was pulling out of the harbor. Compass Rose and La Veranda food and service was very good. There were a lot of MIS making sure things ran smoothly who did whatever needed to be done..seating, delivering orders etc. We were eating dinner at La Veranda with another couple when someone asked for sorbet between courses. Our server said "Of course I can get that for you". I was watching her and I could see her thinking "Don't say no" before she gave her response...really. I could read it on her face. Our dinner at Prime 7 was excellent, as was the service. I had surf and turf while my DH had lamb chops. We were both pleased with our meals. They served us an anniversary cake (40th) for dessert. The wines were excellent and we found no reason to go off menu. One evening we were brought a Chianti we didn't want and the requested Cab was quickly poured. There were fresh flowers around the ship and orchids in our room. There is a coffee machine on the pool deck that makes automatic lattes and cappuccinos. The ice cream station on the pool deck is under an overhang to stay out of the sun. The Destinations desk people were helpful and polite. Everyone greeted you in the halls. There are 10 computers with flat screen monitors in the library, which was also well stocked. Had a great massage in the Canyon Ranch spa. (Only because of OBC..too expensive otherwise.) We received a survey halfway through our cruise from Mark Conroy wanting to know if there was anything they could do to make our cruise better. We had a rough time on our sea day..Navigator was really moving and shaking. We heard some pax complain "We're never sailing on this ship again!" But we just said: "We're on a CRUISE! On WATER! There are WAVES!" Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was our first ever cruise so, no doubt, that will affect our perceptions. We had chosen Regent after talking to acquaintances who had sailed many times on their ships and who told us that this was the only way to cruise. Originally, ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise so, no doubt, that will affect our perceptions. We had chosen Regent after talking to acquaintances who had sailed many times on their ships and who told us that this was the only way to cruise. Originally, it was just going to be my husband and I on the cruise as our fifteen year old son was meant to be away on a month long expedition with his school to Venezuela. Unfortunately, this was postponed until July of 2011, so we were suddenly faced with the dilemma of a romantic cruise for two becoming a family cruise. As the only child of older parents our son is, thank goodness, both well travelled and reasonably self sufficient when it comes to entertaining himself, qualities that helped him enjoy the cruise as the youngest person on board. We travelled to Fort Lauderdale a day ahead of the cruise, staying at the Courtyard Marriott, Fort Lauderdale Beach. The hotel was adequate but I thought it bore very little resemblance to the obviously airbrushed and carefully staged photographs on its website. Its location was ideal, however, and it took only five minutes to reach Port Everglades on the Monday morning of the cruise. Embarkation was extremely efficient and in less than fifteen minutes from our arrival at noon, we were onboard with a glass of sparkling wine in hand which we enjoyed while the teen had a quick lope around the ship to get his bearings before lunch in La Veranda. We had opted for a Grand Suite (701) which was a good thing as it is one of the suites that easily sleeps three, having a separate bedroom. Teresa, our stewardess made up the sofa bed every night for our son, and he said that, as sofa beds go, it was extremely comfortable. We enjoyed the suite and its location very much, finding it spacious and comfortable. The pre-loaded films on the two televisions are a nice touch and one our son liked as in the first few days of the cruise he did not want to go to any of the evening entertainment and preferred to retire to the suite and watch a film. This changed after we went to Galileo's lounge one evening with him, and George, the barman there, started to challenge him with various puzzles and mind games. Binoy, our butler, was most attentive and nothing was too much trouble. When the itinerary changed due to water issues, and our visit to St. Barts took place two days later than originally scheduled he took charge of altering a restaurant reservation we had made there. The only downside to 701, and it wasn't one that bothered us as we are early risers, is that it when the anchors were raised or lowered, being right by them we not only heard them but also felt the vibration. We had few issues with the food or restaurants onboard. My husband is wheat intolerant and the brand of special crackers he prefers were found for him and kept in the restaurants and a supply was also placed in the suite for his use when the butler brought canapEs before dinner. Such attention to detail was much appreciated. We dined in Prime 7 twice, once by ourselves and once as part of a larger group. On both occasions the food was excellent. We particularly enjoyed the foie gras sliders and also the chateaubriand. Apart from the night we boarded when we had a very grumpy waiter in Compass Rose, service was exceptionally good. Stefano, the head waiter in Le Veranda at breakfast and lunchtime and also in Compass Rose in the evenings, was charming and went out of his way to ensure that not only we but all passengers had exactly what we wanted. The one disappointment for us was in the wine selections. We are wine collectors and we both felt the everday selections to be rather uninspired, relying too heavily on Californian and South American wines. We would have liked to see more French, Australian and Italian wines available as part of the daily selections. The sommeliers in all the restaurants were well informed and we had some interesting discussions with them, getting the impression that they were sometimes frustrated by the wines that had been selected. We made use of the free shore excursions and our choices were probably changed by our son's presence as we went for more active ones than those we would have chosen if travelling alone. Some were better than others and we got the sense that the destination staff need to check more carefully that what was described in the write ups actually happens. While our catamaran snorkelling trip in Tortola was great fun, the wine and snacks that were advertised never actually happened. Instead, we were dropped off at a beach bar on Norman's Island to buy lunch if we wanted it and then given a plastic cup of rum punch while sailing back to Road Town. Equally friends of ours took what was meant to be an elegant sail around St. Barts, only to find that the skipper of the boat thought he was taking them snorkelling. They didn't mind and had come prepared with swimming gear, but some of their fellow guests were quite unhappy expecting to be on board a large, comfortable yacht where they would sit in comfort, sipping wine. The excursions we particularly enjoyed were snorkelling in Tortola and the America's Cup 12 metre challenge in St. Maarten. The cave and mangrove exploration in Cayo Levantado in the Dominican Republic was interesting, but the ten mile speed boat ride back to the ship in 4 metre waves was one of the scariest boat rides I have ever taken. We took a glass bottomed boat ride in Nassau and all agreed that it was very ho hum. Our son scathingly called it snorkelling for the faint of heart and lazy. We enjoyed the onboard activities on the whole. I found the fitness area very small for the number of passengers on board - line ups to use exercise machines were the norm. My husband played bridge on several occasions and was full of praise for the instructors, Terri and Carla. Our son liked all the games like ping pong, putting, pool volleyball, and shuffle golf, playing them with enthusiasm, and amassing quite a haul of Regent points by the end of the cruise. The entertainment staff who ran these were very pleasant and enthusiastic. One small disappointment was that the golf driving cage on deck twelve was removed during the recent dry dock. We dined one night with Franck Galzy, the general manager, and he told us that this was because it affected the stability of the ship. The special focus of this cruise was Theatre at Sea which meant that Ed Asner, Carol Channing and Carol Lawrence were on board giving shows and also participating in panel discussions. I am ashamed to say that I never made it to any of these, but my husband saw Ed Asner's one man show FDR and said he was incredible. We enjoyed the James Bond Martini and trivia event very much and also the Krew Kapers, but can't comment on the regular nights' entertainment as we never went to them. Not having been on the Navigator before we also cannot comment on what changes were made during the recentdry dock. We found the ship to be very well maintained and the staff worked hard at all times to ensure this, particularly in the pool area. I do, however, think that there needs to be a more senior member of staff there to oversee this area, as this was the only place where I felt things did not run smoothly due to rather selfish behaviour on the part of some passengers. Obviously, there are not enough loungers around the pool to accommodate everyone on board (especially on at sea days) and ones in the shade are definitely at a premium, but the practice of "bagging" them at 8:00 in the morning by placing belongings on them and then not turning up until noon (something we witnessed one day) struck me as incredibly inconsiderate and selfish. The waiters/attendants at the pool were understandably reluctant to intervene as they were asked to do on this occasion by someone who had noticed the length of time in which the loungers had not been used. So, I think that someone with a little more power is needed to enforce say a 30 minute rule - if you don't use the lounger, after 30 minutes your belongings are removed, stored for you, and someone else is given the opportunity to use it. So, did the cruise live up to our expectations? It most definitely did. Everyone enjoyed it. While it might not have been our son's first choice, he rated it very highly saying it would rank in his top ten vacations ever. We liked the level of service, thought the food was very good, with the odd flash of excellence, and enjoyed the experience of being on a ship - ideal for making a lot of stops without having to unpack and repack constantly. Would we travel with Regent again? We are already looking at Russia/Scandinavia when our son finally goes to Venezuela in the summer of 2011. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Personal Background Information: My husband and I are Kiwis, namely from New Zealand. This is our first cruise, and we undertook to do one for his 40th birthday. With the help of an amazing travel agent specializing in cruises, we ... Read More
Personal Background Information: My husband and I are Kiwis, namely from New Zealand. This is our first cruise, and we undertook to do one for his 40th birthday. With the help of an amazing travel agent specializing in cruises, we decided on the Seven Seas Navigator for 10 days, travelling the Western Carribean, in and out of Fort Lauderdale. Travel To Port of Embarkation Air New Zealand - fabulous!! - Auckland to San Francisco Virgin America - SFO to Fort Lauderdale - wow!! Internet service inflight. How much better can it get? Hotel Info (if any) In SFO, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency SFO Airport. Its Tripadvisor reviews were appalling, but we really quite liked it. Everyone was super-friendly, and the facilities were great, especially for the price. $139 including an upgrade to the Regency Club. In Fort Lauderdale, we stayed at the Marriott Harbour Beach & Spa. It was really nice, but I don't think I'd pay the $450 rack rate per night. The room wasn't much nicer than the Hyatt, although the grounds were well-cared for. Embarkation Smooth and seamless...a great welcome to the pampering we were about to experience. Stateroom We just loooove our little stateroom. It was in the centre of the ship. It has a balcony but is one of the smallest on the ship. It's perfectly formed without feeling cramped, and is much nicer than most hotel rooms. There are beautiful wood fittings everywhere, the walk-in closet is gorgeous, so is the desk and shelves. The curtains are sumptuous. The bathroom is marble, with a shower AND bath. I expected to have to make some sacrifices for space, but it's beautiful, just beautiful. And I love the balcony, and sat out there to meditate or just watch the waves go by. Ship Info At 490 passengers, the ship feels intimate and spacious. The ship was fresh out of dry dock and beautifully outfitted. Everything feels like luxury - when we were on day excursions, we looked forward to getting back to our "womb". Dining I couldn't tell, either from the Regent website or from Cruise Critic that the quality of the food would be so nice. So many courses! So many plates! So little room in my stomach! And the wines were lovely too. When we didn't like the wine that was being poured (and I have something against Chardonnay), they happily poured a different one. My chief level of concern was whether my dietary preferences would be catered for, and they were!! Top marks awarded here. Each night after stuffing myself on far too many courses at Compass Rose, I would return to the room to find the next day's menus tucked into my door. I ticked my choices, and the chefs did their very best to accommodate me. I realize that sometimes this meant cooking a separate version of something; for instance, I know that they made special sugar-free sorbets for my intermezzo. ;-) I sing with joy at being so looked after. The maitre d, Luis, and the deputy head water, Manuel stood out as being exceptional, and invariably made me feel as though we were dining amongst friends. A big fuss was made for my husband's 40th birthday, with singing and a special cake. Staff & Service The staff were all gorgeously friendly, took their jobs seriously and made us feel truly pampered. It can't be easy offering such a high level of service consistently, but they did it, and did it well. I came away having given our address details to several of the crew, making them promise to call in when they come to New Zealand. Entertainment Sorry, can't comment on entertainment: my husband and I didn't take in a single show. We did, however, love the visiting mixologist, Adam Segar and his inventive cocktails. We are inspired! My husband loved the Connoisseur Club, aka the cigar bar. S Shore Excursions The shore excursions ranged from the sublime (the Mayan ruins at Tikal) to the ridiculous. I heard other people complain about the quality of the tours, but all I can say is that they obviously aren't arranged by the people working on the ship. They aren't of the same high quality that we had come to expect from being on the ship. What we did: Costa Maya, Mexico: - I was appalled at the extent of the devastation from their 2007 hurricane. Obviously they have tried to rebuild as best they can, but it's still in nascent stages and no one can do anything about the wastelands of dead mangroves. We did the 2-tank dive, which was cool in that we saw turtles and got to swim in the blue water. Then it was Mexican food on the beach at Mahajual, and a dash back to the ship in a taxi in the sudden downpour. Roatan, Honduras On Roatan, we just did our own thing. Hired a taxi for the day ($50 + tip) and got an island tour. The driver wasn't particularly interested in us as people, but gave us a fine tour and stopped where we'd requested. My husband wanted cigars, and we got some cool souvenirs at a shop called Yabba Ding Ding which was outside the port complex. The prices weren't much better outside the port complex though, just for reference! We had lunch at Half Moon Bay, and watched the waves and the wild weather. That was the last bad weather we had on the tour, until disembarkation day. Santo Tomas, Guatemala: - I really enjoyed gliding into the port in the early morning. It was really beautiful and felt like we were really travelling to exotic places. Well, I guess we were, but without the dusty, bumpy bus ride and risk of dysentery... Guatemala looks very much like a third world country with attendant problems of corruption, rubbish strewn everywhere and lack of education; and that makes me feel sad. We did the "Route of the Mayans by Air" tour, and while it was expensive ($749), I'd say it was worth every penny. We flew up to Santa Elena and then bussed to the ruins and walked around. The lunch afterward at Maya Internacional hotel was decidedly average, but probably the best option around those parts! Our chartered plane waited for us and took us back to Gautemala City, past the shacks, McDonalds and third world spendour, back to the dizzying luxury of our ship. That felt a bit strange, and a bit wrong. Cozumel, Mexico: Here, a group of us organized our own diving expedition with Aldora Divers; ably aided by the ship's concierge, Martha. This was the best diving on the trip; and I especially enjoyed our second dive which was a drift dive. Then off for some more Mexican at a tacky-looking place called Tiki Tok (upstairs towards the southern end of town), for surprisingly good food & service; especially compared with Pancho's Backyard, where the ship staff recommended we go the previous night. Rather disappointing, I thought! Cayman Islands: On learning that we only had 4 hours in Grand Cayman, we cancelled our Shore Diving excursion and just did our own thing. We grabbed a taxi to the Marriott at Seven Mile Beach, rented chairs and snorkels and just did the beach thing. Ahh. Disembarkation Well, the end HAD to come. It was less a disembarkation than an ejection from the womb.... The staff were very friendly and efficient, but I can't help but feel sad that it's over. Summary In short, we loved our Regent experience. Truly, deeply loved it. There are some rather negative reviews on Cruise Critic about the Navigator. In fact, some are so negative (staff don't care, room smelled like sewage, it's gone downhill, they're cost-cutting) that I panicked after we'd paid our deposit, wondering if we'd gone with the wrong cruise line. But I can honestly say that I don't know what those people are talking about. Sure, everything has a downside, a negative; and even the nicest of people have bad days...but the Navigator is a beautiful ship with fantastic service. A 10-day cruise will leave you feeling pampered, relaxed and wishing that life could be like this all the time. What I really loved: The elegant casual dress code: I looooved getting dressed up and wafting around om tropical breezes among beautiful surroundings. Who wouldn't? I would even have loved a few formal evenings, but the lack of a mandate didn't mean I couldn't wear a strapless dress, so I did for our night at the captain's table. The all-inclusive price tag: We really loved not being charged drink by drink, and not feeling the pressure to tip. Being able to have whatever you want, whenever you want it is very lovely, liberating and indulgent. Champagne cocktails after dinner, while sitting on the couches at the stern of the ship in the warm night air... the boys smoking cigars... why not? The other people on the boat: There were some really interesting, really nice people on the cruise. Despite a profusion of massive diamonds, we didn't encounter any snootiness, just friendly, interesting people on holiday. We kept running into the same group of 6 or 7 couples, and I'll say we've made some new friends for life. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
First a caveat on this review: We are not generally cruise enthusiasts, have only cruised twice previously, and generally prefer other means of travel and vacationing. We are however, very well traveled and been privileged to enjoy many ... Read More
First a caveat on this review: We are not generally cruise enthusiasts, have only cruised twice previously, and generally prefer other means of travel and vacationing. We are however, very well traveled and been privileged to enjoy many first class and 'starred' restaurants, resorts, and other accommodations in many parts of the US and around the world. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary (ship as major destination) and timing (our 30th anniversary). This was our first cruise with Regent and we chose them because of good reviews and reputation, and ship size and amenities. Pre-Cruise: We were well pleased with our communications with Regent although most of our dealings were through our travel agent. We used their air arrangements (due to the open jaw of this cruise, it would have been very tough to get a better deal) and were completely satisfied with the scheduling. Our documents all arrived well in advance of the cruise and were easy to understand and very nicely presented. We didn't have any trouble using the pre-booking system on the web site to book dinner reservations and excursions. Embarkation: Our flight was met by a Regent rep and we were taken to the pier where we were checked in immediately and boarded, greeted by staff, offered champagne and directed to LaVeranda. We were seated and our drink orders taken. This being our first Regent cruise, we did have to ask about the buffet but lunch went well and after only a few minutes exploring the ship, the announcement was made that our cabins were ready. On our floor, we were met by our Stewardess and taken to our suite, where our chilled French sparkling wine was waiting. My husband doesn't particularly care for champagne and I found the Bouvet to be fine. Our luggage arrived within a reasonable period of time. Room/Stewardess, Butler - Our Butler was always prompt and checked our preferences regularly to make sure everything was to our liking and ready. Our afternoon appetizers and breakfast orders always arrived right on time (and delicious). He returned our laundry the same day we sent it out. Our stewardess was also very prompt, did a beautiful job keeping our suite in perfect order and was unfailingly cheerful and pleasant. Our suite was incredible with plenty of space to stow all our things and beautifully decorated and maintained. The bathroom and bed linens were lovely as were the Regent robes and woolen throw and given the coolish Atlantic weather, very handy. The bathroom had beautiful fixtures. My husband loved the Hermes toiletries and even though I travel with my own toiletries, I used the Regent brand soap and bath gel and found them quite nice. The containers are very badly designed, though. Food - we found the food ranged from very good to excellent. (The appetizers passed at large gatherings such as the captain's welcome may not have reached the very good level according to my husband, but that was the exception.) Our dinners were beautifully (and always cheerfully) presented and the wine selections were fine. We enjoyed our dinners in Signatures the most, but that is a personal preference based on a love of French food. Compass Rose can get incredibly busy from time to time and the staff handled those situations very well. Excursions - We found the excursions to be well managed and enjoyable. There was always a Regent employee on each excursion, and the local guides were very good. The Regent destinations desk did a great job of organizing an afternoon of extra excursions when we arrived in Funchal several hours early. We had beautiful weather which made everything better, of course. I took the Cordon Bleu cooking class which I thoroughly enjoyed. The chef, Frederic Lesourd, was delightful and the classes and social events (dinners and cocktail parties) were really fun and of course, the food was fabulous. It was very nice that the CD, the captain, the staff captain and all the senior chefs at various time attended these functions. The special, in depth, galley tour was great and certainly gave us an appreciation for the challenges they face providing an excellent level of service. It was also interesting to have the chance to talk to these professionals about their jobs. We also attended most of the wine tastings provided by the group of vintners on board. We found their experiences as wine makers very interesting and the tastings were fun. Personnel - Having read several comments on this board regarding crew dissatisfaction, I tried to watch for signs of that. We were always greeted with smiles and friendliness and I couldn't detect false notes in the crew's interaction with the passengers or with one another. They seemed to truly enjoy making the passengers happy. Shop - We didn't spend much time in the shop but found the personnel helpful. The last evening, realizing that we still had on board credit to spend, we made a hurried visit and the staff was very helpful. Casino - My husband joined several tournaments in the casino and enjoyed himself, particularly because he won occasionally. General Ship - We thought the ship was just beautiful, well designed and elegantly decorated. We didn't use the outdoor space on top as much as we would have on a warmer cruise and really didn't spend much time in the lounges. The internet/coffee/library area was a great asset to the ship (we thought the library very well stocked and used it extensively). Spa - I visited the spa twice and I found the employees to be very pleasant and good at what they do. I thought the prices were at the upper end of land-based spa prices. The treatments weren't the very best I've ever had, but they were very good. Gym - I attended several exercise classes and used some of the equipment in the gym. The classes were pretty typical of broad based exercise classes. The instructor, Emanuelle, was very enthusiastic. Entertainment - The Platters concerts were a delightful surprise and such fun. We also attended Krew Kapers and enjoyed the chance to give the employees a round of applause! Debarkation - The process went very smoothly, we didn't even have time to sit down in the theater before our group was called. Luggage was handled well both at the ship and the airport which made check in very easy. I seriously dislike the necessity of putting your luggage in the hall the night before, especially in this day of more and more airline regulations, but I don't see any way around it. Although Regent's fares are high, I think that the quality of the entire experience and the all inclusive policy make this a good value for the discerning traveler. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We have been sailing on various cruise lines the last five years in an attempt to discover a favorite. We have not completed our "experiment" but believe we have found it. Our voyage on the Seven Seas Mariner exceeded our ... Read More
We have been sailing on various cruise lines the last five years in an attempt to discover a favorite. We have not completed our "experiment" but believe we have found it. Our voyage on the Seven Seas Mariner exceeded our expectations by a wide margin. I'm definitely not a cheerleader personality but it's difficult not to be enthused about our recent experience. We have sailed on other Premium and (so-called) "Six Star" Luxury lines with excellent service, but the level provided on this voyage was above all that we had experienced in the past. All requests were performed immediately, competently, and with a smile. An example: I dropped my laptop and needed some super glue to repair a crack in the case. Not finding any in the sundry shop, I took a chance and stopped by the front desk to see whether they had any. They did not, but said they would check and get back to me ... by the time I walked back to our cabin, the carpenter was waiting by the door with the glue. I'm not a bar-fly but did enjoy aperitifs before dinner at the various cocktail venues. By mid-voyage each knew my special preference in preparation. Dining service at all venues was equally excellent. What I find nice is that this service is all rendered with no expectation of gratuities. The Seven Seas Mariner is the best ship we have sailed on to-date. The layout is easy to navigate without any port?/starboard? confusion and the atrium is a design coup ... the glass elevators and cantilevered spiral staircase were impressive to an engineer like myself. The passenger space ratio appears optimal, even with a full sailing. Mariner is the only ship I have been on where, at the breakfast/lunch buffet, there is no problem finding an empty table. Further, the tables are well spaced and no fancy footwork or gyrations are required to get to one's seat. Our (standard) cabin, while not the largest we have stayed in, made-up for this architecturally with an excellent layout. My wife being a late riser, I commonly have to creep around and dress in the dark, sometimes with surprising results ... my all-time blunder was later discovering that I had put my shorts on backwards. The roomy walk-in closet allowed me to dress in the light. Dining on the Mariner was truly an enjoyable experience in all sit-down venues. Service was superior and the cuisine excellent. We have always preferred open seating, and this was handled very efficiently ... we never had to wait more than two minutes to be seated. Tip: Walk-up also works at Signatures and Prime 7. We stopped by a few times on the way to Compass Rose to check availability and were ushered to seats on three additional occasions due to cancellations or no-shows. We ended-up eating in Signatures four times and Prime 7 thrice, which was actually too much because the menu only changed once during our voyage. A comment about the new "Elegant Casual" dress code is warranted. For myself, this was a very large PLUS. Packing a tux, suit, blazer, and appurtenances for formal, semi-formal, and informal nights has always been a drag ... putting them all on, even worse. Tip: wearing a tux does not make the food taste better. Packing only one blazer made life much easier and orders of magnitude more comfortable. My estimate is that 3/4 of all men wore jackets every night and the decorum was quite elegant ... and civilized. Being a "Cruise Critic", I cannot submit a review sans criticism. With one significant exception, the area of shortfall on our voyage was in entertainment and enrichment. To be fair, one should not expect a Las Vegas song and dance extravaganza on a small ship, so such omission was not a surprise. The disappointment was in enrichment lecturers which were: 1) An ex-military social aide speaking about his experiences at the White House and 2) A chap describing his system for securities investment, both with books to sell. I'm sure some folks enjoyed the White House "tabloid tidbits" and others were interested in attempting to double the value of their portfolios, but it just wasn't my cup of tea (but with many sea days, attended anyway). The exception was a group of Napa/Sonoma winemakers from the Louis Martini, Sbragia, and Turnbull wineries. They brought their best products and presented a series of wine tasting seminars on the various factors involved in the growth of grapes and the production of fine wines. The information was excellent, as were the wines they provided. It, however, did not stop there: known as "Private Reserve", they also make up a band that played late night music in the Horizons Lounge, well attended and enjoyed by many listeners and dancers. "Joie de vivre" is the best way to describe Private Reserve, who enjoy both life and work to an extent that all of us would envy. Wine making is their business and they do not make these appearances on frequent or regular basis. We were just fortunate to have booked this voyage upon which they happened to appear. Most shore excursions are included and, of course, well attended. The excursions were excellent, short notes of a few are: * Funchal: The "Portuguese Bobsled" ride down the hill on the city streets among auto traffic was fun. * Scenic Cadiz and Flamenco: The "scenic" part was enjoyable when, arriving at the beach seawall, we discovered nude sunbathing was popular. * Malaga: The excursion to the Alhambra at Granada was at extra cost but well worth it. We had made an earlier land visit and actually stayed within the walls of Alhambra, never knowing the full story of the site. This was explained well, and in full detail on this excursion. * Marseilles: Avignon and the Popes' Palace and des Baux ... impressive and much more in scale and magnitude than we had expected. So, with almost everything included, I wondered what one does with the generous shipboard credits? My wife, of course, had the answer ... make the on-board shopkeepers happy, which was accomplished. We are not "spa folk", but one of the ladies in our group decided on that option and had her hair done along with a facial and pedicure. Although covered by OBC, even she was a bit startled when she received the bill for $420 ... wow! I have changed my mind about the significance of the all-inclusive experience, which everyone knows is really is not free. One common topic of discussion is grumbling about signing chits, which is a bad argument because it is a normal procedure at all country club or similar organizations. However, aboard ship, all-inclusiveness simplifies and circumvents some great social issues: "Should I buy this new acquaintance a drink?" or "Is it my turn to buy the wine?" become non-issues. I have also read complaints on other boards that the late evening social scene aboard ships is limited or non-existent. This was not true on our voyage, where cabaret and dance venues were lively and well attended. It's my opinion that cruisers would not be financially damaged by the cost of an after-dinner drink but think twice and just elect not to have them. However, if it is included, why not attend and take part in the convivial social scene existing aboard ship, joining new acquaintances instead of remaining a stranger who happens to be sailing with other strangers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Personal Background Information: My husband and I are recently retired. We have cruised over 40 times, mostly on mainline ships. This is our second Regent cruise and we just love the small Navigator. We are non-smokers and prefer a cruse ... Read More
Personal Background Information: My husband and I are recently retired. We have cruised over 40 times, mostly on mainline ships. This is our second Regent cruise and we just love the small Navigator. We are non-smokers and prefer a cruse that doesn't leave us gasping for air. I no longer fly so cruises from Ft. Lauderdale work well for us. On April 25, the Navigator took us from Fort Lauderdale to Port Canaveral, Charleston, Bermuda and Nassau. It was a very good eleven days. I wonder why they don't make this trip more often. We drove from our home in central Florida the day before and stayed in the Homeward suites. It was fine. We used Fly to Park. That also worked well for us. Embarkation was a breeze. I cannot call our accommodations a cabin. Suite 1125 was probably the best 'cabin' we have ever had. I learned about that suite from the Cruise Critic. It was a great choice. Yes, there were small glitches but the staff quickly took care of. The bedroom was small, but comfortable. The closet was quite large with more room than I could possibly use even if we did the world cruise in that suite. The living-dining room is spacious. The balcony door is hard to open, but it gave a great place to enjoy the ocean breezes. So many things on this ship were perfect so the less than good stuff really stuck out like a sore thumb. Four treadmills were not enough on sea days. The other thing that made me nuts was the service in the Compass Rose. The food raged from good to great. BUT the waiter had 6 tables and I know he did his best, but six is two too many. As a result, we ate most of our meals in the La Veranda. The food there was almost as good as in the Compass Rose, but the service was wonderful. I don't want you to think we had a bad cruise, on the contrary, it was fantastic. Despite the treadmill, I managed to gain six pounds! EEEK. Some of my favorites included the foie gras sliders in Prime7, the macadamia nut pie in La Veranda, and Gorgonzola cheeseburgers at the grill. We are not fans of most shows, but the show Cirque Navigator was really good. The dance numbers were breathtaking. I was surprised to find that theater was less than half-full. Once the word gets out, that will be a sell-out. Many afternoons there was local music on the pool deck. It helped lend a very festive atmosphere. All in all, it was a great cruise. I too am looking for the perfect cruise and I have not found it yet, but this one came close. Port highlights: 1."Real" Florida Airboat Adventure Port Canaveral: We have lived in central Florida for decades, and this is the first time we tried this magical experience. We saw the expected alligators as well as snakes, osprey, turtles and even a bald eagle! The ride was as exciting as a rollercoaster. The guide stopped whenever we found something interesting. The earphones kept the noise to managed levels. I would do this thing again at home when I have the chance. We did not find this tour hard at all. When I saw the three little men on the list, I was a little worried. No sweat! It was as easy as getting on a bus. 2.Boone Hall Plantation & Historic Charleston: After our airboat tour, our expectations were high. This one was a letdown. The guide seemed more interested in getting back to the ship than informing us about the places we were seeing. Yes, we did see the beautiful house and the slave quarters. The tour took a lot of time on the bus in a now you see it there it was experience. We did get to see the Citadel and all those handsome cadets. But, I think we would enjoyed it much more on our own pace. 3.Crystal Caves: After Boon Hall, we decided that we would do our touring in Bermuda on our own. So we bought a bus ticket and we were ready for an adventure. This time, we had a wonderful guide and enjoyed the beauty of the caves. The 81 stairs were not easy to navigate but the guide was patient and we forgot the problem of walking up so many stairs as we focused on the beauty of the environment. At the lowest point in the cave, the guide turned off all the lights and we were in absolute darkness. This was a fantastic thing to do. 4.St. George by a horse-drawn carriage: The last time we were in Bermuda we did not get to St. George, so we did the horse-drawn carriage offered by the ship. We ended in facing backwards with a third person in the seat. What should have been a nice experience turned out to be just OK, but not comfortable. Oh well. 5.Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin Encounter: After the horse-drawn up carriage, I was wary of any more ship tours. This one did not start well. I told the guide that I walk slowly so I asked if I could just start to walk. He said no he wanted to keep us all together. When the walk to the launch started, I did my best, but I could not keep up the pace. Together my eye!! There were times I couldn't even see anyone from our tour. My DH told me that we should just stop, but I really wanted to do the encounter. I was so angry about the lack of care for me. Then we got on the boat and everything changed. We saw parts of Nassau we had never seen before. Nassau is a beautiful place! The dolphin encounter was by far the most fun I have ever had in the water. When I have the opportunity to do the swim, I will. It will be worth every penny. Yes, our Navigator cruise was very pricy, but it was wonderful. I am saving my pennies to go on another Regent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We chose this particular cruise because we wanted a cruise without the need to fly to and from the ports. We live in southern Switzerland and rented a Hertz car (at the French side of Geneva airport) and drove to Monte Carlo. The reason ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise because we wanted a cruise without the need to fly to and from the ports. We live in southern Switzerland and rented a Hertz car (at the French side of Geneva airport) and drove to Monte Carlo. The reason for renting in that specific location was to avoid the huge drop charges which are incurred by returning a car to another country. We spent two nights pre-cruise in Monte Carlo, staying at the Port Palace Hotel. The hotel was lovely, with a nice harbourside location, yet close to everything in Monte Carlo (well, it is a small place!!). However if we do this again I would definitely pay extra for a room on the 4th or 5th floors to get a better view. Ours was on the 2nd, and we had a great view of the huge yachts moored in front of us, but not much else. We booked on a B&B basis, and the breakfast was very nice - on the 6th floor with super view!! The hotel also has a lovely terrace bar where we had our apEritfs both evenings. We sailed on Wednesday 7th April. We pre-booked a taxi through the hotel and it came right on schedule at noon. About 12.05 we were in the queue waiting to present our tickets and passports to the Security desk. Boarding was slow - I would guess there were 30 people ahead of us and since the actual security check was at the top of the gangplank it took time. We were directed to the Constellation Theatre for check in which went smoothly and fast. By about 12.45 we were seated in la Veranda for lunch. We have not been on board the Mariner for two years and we were really pleased with the re-decorations we saw, especially in la Veranda and the Compass Rose (and by the way, I would love to have a set of the la Veranda china at home! It is lovely!!) Another thing I noticed was that the pool was kept full, even when we were in port. For those of us who did not get off the ship very often, this was lovely, even though only one or two people swam - the weather wasn't that warm! By about 2.45 we went to our suite and were greeted by our Stewardess, Regina. This is the first time we have been in a non-Butler suite for years (husband was economising last year when we booked!!) and I must say I was worried about the level of service. I need not have been. Regina was superb and looked after our every need. She immediately re-did our bed and installed two duvets instead of the one. I think it would be nice if there was a "Stewardess Form" for us to complete before boarding, telling what sort of bedding we would like. I asked for a bottle of Mumm's Cordon Rouge instead of the "mousseux" that had been in the suite and also a bottle of Johnny Walker. She brought them right away. The new Interactive TV is wonderful...once we found out it was there and then learnt to use it!! There were around 50 regular posters from the Cruise Critic boards and their spouses and families on board, and with the help of another "CC-er" I had amassed a list of names and suites. On the first evening I met the Cruise Director, Dionne Lochner, and told her that I would like to see her the next day about organising a cocktail for us all. She said that she would handle this and did. The next day she rang, and told me that the F&B manager would be calling me in a few minutes. I then had a call from Davor Manager of F&B, who sorted out the party. His reply to the request was not "why" but "when would you like it?" and that attitude to me sums up all that Regent is, and why we sail with Regent The party itself was on the third night, right after the Captain's welcome (delayed because of long port stays in both Livorno and Civitavecchia to allow lots of touring). It was held in Stars, and the Captain, the GM, the Cruise Director and other senior crew attended. We all really appreciated this chance to meet face-to-face. It was a lot of fun and many thanks go to Davor and his team for setting it up!! We had dinner the second evening in Signatures with "Orpington T" and his lovely wife, Barbara, and son, and daughter-in-law. Lots of fun and superb food and wines. The following night my husband and I dined at Prime 7 - our first opportunity to do so. We just loved it!! The food was terrific - we had lobsters - and it was nicely presented. Finally that space has an identity and offers a great treat to all. (Especially to us since we live in Europe and Maine lobsters are not at all easy to come by! Apparently Prime 7 has a tank of live lobsters - wow!) We asked the next evening if there was any possibility of a second reservation on any other night...and to our glee secured a table for 2 at 6pm on the night before we arrived in Venice. Other evenings we ate in Compass Rose and enjoyed each dinner. One night there were Soft shell Crabs as a starter. We love these and cannot get them at all where we live. I mentioned this to our waiter, Angel. He arranged for us to have a special lunch of "Soft Shells" the next day in the Compass Rose!! The overall quality and presentation of the food in all three restaurants (we didn't eat dinner at la Veranda) is excellent. The choices are wide, and you can always ask for something that is not on the menu, such as Filet Mignon with BEarnaise, and we did! This cruise was very port-intensive. Most people left the ship for most of the day, yet all day long Dionne and her team offered things to do. I participated in a Putting Competition. We attended Tea Time Trivia almost every day. It was the most fun when Dionne ran it herself! She managed to take the "nastiness" out of some of the competitiveness and everyone had a great time. We didn't do too many excursions since I was not feeling 100% as a result of a respiratory infection I had contracted before leaving Switzerland. Nor did we attend any of the shows...early bed was better! We did visit Capri - our excursion was"Capri on the Lighter Side" - had a good guide and spent a lot of time in (planned) shopping and had a nice lunch at la Palma in Capri Town. We also took an excellent tour in Kotor - "Kotor and the Bay of Kotor". Our guide, Bruna, was most informative and we learnt a lot about Montenegro, the former Yugoslavia and especially Kotor. My husband took a walking tour of Dubrovnik. I had planned to, but was too tired so stayed on board. He said that was very good as well. In Venice we did not take tours but went on our own via vaporetto to Torcello for a wonderful lunch at the Locanda Cipriani, a special favourite of ours. I should also add that our arrival in Venice, in pea-soup thick fog, was very disappointing to most on board. Nothing could be done about it, of course...and the seamanship demonstrated by Captain Felice Patruno and the pilot was really impressive. At one point we could hear children shouting "ciao, ciao" but could not see them!! We have arrived in Venice by ship before, so we know what we and all the others missed... Disembarkation was amazingly smooth. I had expected total disorganisation but instead we were told we could leave (since we had our own travel plans) at any time we liked. We strolled off the ship at 8am, found our luggage with the help of a charming port representative - there were two ships disembarking at once! - and then took the free shuttle to the Piazzale Roma, arriving there just after 8.30am. Hertz had just opened up and by 8.45 we were leaving Venice for the autostrada and were home in under six hours... Two days later we dropped the car in Ivrea, thereby avoiding some 800 EUR in drop charges!! Of course this was also the disembarkation that was dramatically affected by the Volcano and air travel crisis. We were not involved but we have read since of all the wonderful things that Regent did to ensure that its air passengers who were affected were well looked after. It was a wonderful cruise, made more wonderful by the crew: Our stewardess Regina; Cruise Director Dionne and her assistant Chris; Captain Felice Patruno; Maitres d'Hòtel Delfin and Rommel; waiters Angel and Gerry; Wine Steward Ivan (whom we knew from the Navigator) and last but not least, Helga from Destination Services. Look out for them all when you are on board...they will not disappoint you and neither will Regent and the Mariner! I only have one criticism - there were lovely lilies in all the lounges - Horizon Lounge, Observation Lounge etc. I love them but they do not love me (and others as well, I think!) Somehow they make me sneeze and cough!! Perhaps a choice of other flowers would be safer. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We had a great experience on this cruise and felt that we got real value for our money. The mood on the ship was positive and upbeat. We met some great folks from this board and had plenty of enjoyable dinners and conversations. Food and ... Read More
We had a great experience on this cruise and felt that we got real value for our money. The mood on the ship was positive and upbeat. We met some great folks from this board and had plenty of enjoyable dinners and conversations. Food and Wine - This was an area that really shined. The service and quality of food on this cruise was exceptional. Chef Cornel's menu selections were superb incorporating many old favorites (soft shelled crab, dover sole, beef wellington) as well as more local flavor (Greek poolside buffet, for example). We had many poolside buffets and they were all very good quality (Pasta buffet with an amazing large Tiramisu prepared in the largest paella pan I have ever seen; Indian curry, Greek, Mexican, etc). The wine selection was exceptional. We met a wine steward named Emmanuel early on in the cruise - he was fantastic. We loved every wine he suggested and he is a very pleasant individual - a great asset for Regent. Lots of "new world" wines served.On this cruise, I tried a number of selections from Chile - all really good. La Veranda, Compass Rose, Prime 7 and Signatures were all superb. I would have to give the edge to Signatures over Prime 7 although we enjoyed our meals very much in both venues. Service in all the venues was prompt and pleasant even though we had a full ship. Most notably, great service from all Compass Rose staff, Prime 7 (Kerti, Chimi, Dinur(sp?)), La Veranda (Sylvester - Thank you). The F & B Manager (Davor) was very visible asking passengers for feedback and checking in with them regarding their food. Pool Grill service was great as well. I love the PG menu on the Mariner and we ate there several times post excursion. One issue I noticed is that on a full ship the space in front of the buffet line in La Veranda gets really tight - this space as it is configured is not ideal. We had two "special" dinners in Compass Rose with our new CC friends - One was a curry dinner organized by Hambagahle and another one that arose during conversation at the Indian Curry dinner - we had an Indonesian menu for the second dinner (gado gado, soup, rendang curry and nasi goring). We had dinner with Elsa (social hostess), the Captain and other guests on the Captain's Farewell evening. Met some new friends that we have since been in touch with. Captain Felice is a very charming man. Cabin - Our cabin steward Marte was fantastic. Keep in mind that the safes in the closet are much smaller than those on Voyager and Navigator and will not hold a small computer. Excursions/Destination Desk - This was a port intensive itinerary and we grew tired quickly. We skipped one port (Olympia) and just enjoyed the ship that day. I am of mixed mind regarding the new included excursions policy. Some of the excursions were very, very good, others so so and still others were really bad so it is a bit of a mixed bag and this would likely vary with people's preferences as well. I had two minor suggestions in this area - 1) the timings for many tours were off by 1-1.5 hours so it was not possible to do two tours in a day in many stops. 2) Please have the disembarkation transportation fare options in line with local rates. For example, shuttle by coach bus to the airport was listed at $139 pp while local taxi rates for up to 4 persons was more in the range of 50-70 Euros. Most of the Destination staff were really lovely (Thank you Alejandro) but a couple of times they were not - likely due to a really full ship and many demands for changes, etc. Ports/Tours - I am happy to provide more detailed info on the tours we did - just ask. Livorno - We did Highlights of Lucca - You could do this one easily on your own. Sorrento - We did Capri on the Lighter Side - Mixed review. We were left on our own from 11:30-3. It would have been nice to have a "return at your leisure" option for this tour. Would also like to see a shopping tour (gastronomic or fashion) for this port. Rome - We did the Rome Panorama - it was very good Taormina - We just took the shuttle in and wandered around. Corfu - We did the Panoramic here as well. It rained this day a lot and my recollection is that we spent a lot of time waiting for the bus to depart from different stops Olympia - skipped this one Montenegro - Great bus tour - 25 hair pin turns - Good tour company - loved the sail in/out of this port - timing was off for this tour Sarande, Albania - We skipped this one. Many folks said it was quite depressing. Dubrovnik - We did Dubrovnik Riviera - really well done tour but the timing was quite off Venice - Unfortunate we encountered dense fog upon entry into the Grand Canal so we missed this. We did the St. Mark's Square tour and we missed most of it trying to visit hotels to make arrangements for the next couple of days. Reception - Great attitude, very helpful. Alistair is a very good Executive Concierge and went out of his way to help us make our final disembarkation arrangements. Alistair noted any special requests and always had great follow through. Brian, the Cruise Consultant is a very nice man. While we did not book another cruise onboard, I had a couple of really nice and informative conversations with him - an asset to Regent. Coffee Corner - This is a really great spot. Marcelino and Kerti were exceptional and we met lots of great folks just hanging out here. Best espresso machine on the ship is behind the bar in this area. Mariner had a great supply of bestsellers, DVDs, and games. Tea Time - Very well done. Entertainment/Daily Activities - Won at trivia a few times. Dione and Chris (CD and Asst CD) were fantastic on this cruise. They brought plenty of enthusiasm and connected will with many of the guests. We only went to a couple of shows and these were fairly mixed. This is one area that still needs work in my opinion. Again, people's personal preferences would likely drive their satisfaction in this area. We were also fairly tired so ended up skipping several shows. Ballroom Bravo was great but the Broadway was not. One exception is a new singer to the Regent lineup named Melanie - she can really sing and I enjoyed her performances a great deal. My suggestion would be to start the shows a bit earlier during port intensive itineraries. I also missed not having a Block Party. Lesson Learned - Book Regent's Air. Pay the deviation to select your own carrier and change of plans if you want to make changes. Due to the Volcanic Ash crisis, things were fairly chaotic onboard the last evening. They really did take care of stranded people booked on Regent Air and did so very well. They could have provided better information to all disembarking passengers but my sense is that the crisis was evolving as was their response. We had made our own arrangements and after a couple days stranded, we made it home. Thank you Regent for providing us with a memorable holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
First impressions were very positive. Smooth embarkation and the welcome glass of champagne was gratefully received! Having read comments posted previously our first port of call once on board was to the gym to book into classes for the ... Read More
First impressions were very positive. Smooth embarkation and the welcome glass of champagne was gratefully received! Having read comments posted previously our first port of call once on board was to the gym to book into classes for the next day. Sailaway was quiet compared to other cruises I have been on, but I put this down to folk being in their cabins enjoying the champagne! Age profile for this cruise was definitely retired plus, which I knew would be the case prior to booking. At times I felt like an extra in Cocoon!but having said that I have never met so many determined,interesting and vibrant people. Zip lining with a group all in their seventies is one highlight! As a first time Regent cruiser I came onboard with high expectations and these were delivered. We particularly enjoyed the all inclusive aspect - not having to sign for every drink etc. Our $500 onboard credit was difficult to spend, but we managed! There is vibration at times, but she is a small ship and this is inevitable. It didn't disturb me or ruin my enjoyment in any way. The Panama Canal crossing was amazing. The deck party in Acupulco is something I will never forget - what a back drop! Sailing into San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in mist at 5.30 in the morning was magical and a fitting end to what was a brilliant cruise. Would I cruise with Regent again - yes definitely! Excursions: There has been much debate now that these are included in the overall price. Those we went on were all good, some better than others, but all good. The quality of the guides did vary but all the trips were enjoyable. Beach horse riding in Cabo San Lucas,Mexico was breathtaking. Zip lining in Puerto Vallarta hilarious, mountain biking in Huatulco surreal. The lengths they went to to ensure our safety (quad bike out rider complete with flag, stopping the traffic)were first class Dining: Anytime anywhere dining is a new concept for us. I enjoyed the flexibility of choosing to dine with random people, friends we made on board or just as a couple. At times it did feel a bit like speed dating - what's your name, where do you come from, do you have children etc. etc. but we both enjoy meeting new people and are good talkers (and listeners!) La Veranda- We used this mainly for Breakfast opting to sit outside. The caviar and champagne each Sunday was great. I am not a lover of buffet style dining so we only had one evening meal here and that was so that we could power through to get to the show. We found it almost impossible to do this most nights once we got chatting! Compass Rose - No complaints. Food, wine and service were both first class and fully met my expectations. Prime 7 - Have to admit I am not a fan. The layout is cramped and it is an odd shape. The tables are too small and the menus are so large in size you can hardly look at them once your chair has been pushed in! The food was good, but not significantly better than in Compass Rose. We dined there on three occasions and I was surprised that on a 20 night cruise the menu did not vary. Pool Grill - This was very popular and excellent quality with plenty of choice. Room service - Used this for breakfast and as we had opted for a Butler suite it was delivered with a flourish Butler service: To be honest we under utilised our Butler. The afternoon canape selection was great to start with but there is only so much you can eat! Entertainment: I never expect too much from a cruise so I was pleased with what was on offer. One highlight was meeting Bob Wilber and his wife who were fellow guests onboard. Bob it turned out is quite famous in Jazz circles and he performed a couple of sets with the Regent Band - who I have to say were excellent. Greg the flamenco fusion guitarist was also very good.The lectures we attended were all good quality and well received. I was surprised at how much choice and variety was available. Although we did not participate in any of the deck games we enjoyed watching while sunbathing on a lounger sipping a cocktail! Our cruise director Paul was very professional. Service: First class in all areas. Very attentive bar staff and pool waiters. I particularly noticed how attentive they were to the older passengers with mobility problems. Nothing was too much trouble and assistance was offered in a genuine caring manner. The valet parking service for the mobility scooters used to make me chuckle every time I saw one of the waiters zoom off down the restaurant! Atmosphere: This is a very friendly ship. The Captain John McNeil is very personable and the entire crew give the impression of being happy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My husband and I greatly enjoyed our May 4 - 14 Istanbul to Venice cruise on the Mariner. As background: We are a couple in our mid 40s. We have traveled extensively, but this was only our 4th cruise, and our first on Regent. The cruise ... Read More
My husband and I greatly enjoyed our May 4 - 14 Istanbul to Venice cruise on the Mariner. As background: We are a couple in our mid 40s. We have traveled extensively, but this was only our 4th cruise, and our first on Regent. The cruise was chosen for the timing, length, and itinerary. Our thoughts: EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION: We arranged our own air and transfers. After a few days of sightseeing in Istanbul, we arrived at the port around 1pm. The check in process was very quick, and as the ship was just coming off of a short rehab / wet-dock, the cabin was immediately ready for us. Debarkation was also extremely easy. We just walked off the ship and quickly found our luggage in the terminal. STATEROOMS: We were in a "regular" deluxe suite on deck 8. The suite is a nice size and didn't feel cramped. The mattress was just replaced and the entire room was in great shape. We found that there is plenty of space in the closet and drawers. The bathroom had good storage and we loved the rain shower head. Our room stewardess, Cecilia, was excellent. Comments: • The size of the safe in the closet is very small (e.g. no room for a laptop or larger camera etc). • We currently live in a very quiet neighborhood, so it was a bit louder than we are used to. It was OK at night, but we were woken up early every morning by the noise of people talking in the hallways, the sounds of neighboring cabin front and balcony doors being opened and slamming shut etc. (note: The room service delivery person can't really catch the door as he walks in because he has the tray in his hands. Consequently, the hall door slams closed very loudly after he walks in.) DINNING Overall the dinning met our expectations. We expected and experienced generally good to very good meals and service...we didn't expect Michelin star like experiences, nor was it a big deal to us if a course or meal was not especially to our liking on occasion. Compose Rose: The food was consistently very good in CR. For dinner, we were always immediately seated when we showed up (typically between 8:00 - 8:30). The selections, service and pace of the meals went well in the evenings. Unfortunately, the service at breakfast was not at the same pace. Each of the 3 times we tried CR for breakfast it was extremely slow, even though there were not many others in the dining room. La Veranda: Buffets are not normally our first choice, but with the timing of the excursions, we usually went to LV for breakfast and some lunches. It was OK. It often seemed crowded and hectic and sometimes the "hot" food was not so hot. For dinner, our first experience at LV was disappointing. It was later in the evening, and the buffet was picked over and not visually appealing at all. The service was very slow, but the main courses ordered were good. We decided to give LV another chance for dinner, but this second time we went early (7 pm). It was a big difference! The buffet was full of interesting choices and was nicely presented. The service was much better as well. Lesson - go early for the best experience in LV for dinner. Signatures: We thought that the food was delicious and the service, if a bit pretentious, was professional and smooth. We enjoyed our meal so much; we went for a second time, trying completely different choices and were equally impressed. Prime 7: We have plenty of great steak houses in our current home area, so P7 really wasn't special for us. We went once and didn't try to go back. Perhaps if you lived in area where good steak houses are rare (pun intended), this would be a treat. Pool area: We had lunch here one time, and the burgers and ice cream were good. We enjoyed the pool bar service most afternoons. Please note that it was always easy to find a chair in the sun and one in the shade, no chair hog problems at all. Coffee Connection: Great idea! Loved stopping for a quick espresso and snack. Room service: We had room service deliver coffee every morning. There is a place to indicate when you would prefer the service in half hour intervals. Each and every time they were early. On one of the first days of the cruise, we had marked the 6:30 - 7:00 time frame and the delivery employee was ringing our doorbell at 6:08 (we were still in bed!). The only comment when we questioned, was that they had many orders. It wasn't' a big deal and became a joke to us...how early will they be today? SHIP ACTIVITIES Our time on the ship was primarily to relax, so we didn't take part in many of the ship activities....no trivia, games, casino etc. We often enjoyed a before or after dinner drink in one of the lounges. Our favorite spot was in the observation lounge when the ship was at sea. We didn't go to any of the shows in the large theater, except the "crew capers", which was sweet. OVERALL SERVICE All of the employees came across as friendly and eager to assist. Room stewards/stewardesses were always quick to wish you a good morning/evening when you passed them in a hallway (even if not on your own deck). The bar tenders and restaurant servers were consistently friendly and pleasant. Overall great service! PASSENGERS The ship was full and had a very interesting and friendly mix of passengers. We had many pleasant conversations with our fellow cruisers CONCLUSION Overall the trip was a huge success. We originally booked this trip to: • Visit places we had not been to before on land trips and all except Venice were new; • Enjoy some well deserved R&R from work, and afternoons at the pool deck served us well; and • Celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in style, which we certainly did. If the itinerary and timing are right, we would love to sail Regent again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Background Information Having completed a number of 5 star cruises we decided that it was time to find out how a six star would compare. We chose Regent Seven Seas as the itinerary was a little bit different. Travel to port of ... Read More
Background Information Having completed a number of 5 star cruises we decided that it was time to find out how a six star would compare. We chose Regent Seven Seas as the itinerary was a little bit different. Travel to port of embarkation We will start this with a little moan..........we elected not to take the RSSC package that included overnight hotel and transfer to ship as the cost was ridiculous. Instead we flew into Miami, recognised the RSSC luggage labels of another couple and joined them to take our own cab to the hotel we had booked in Fort Lauderdale. After a great evening eating shrimp 6 ways in a beach side restaurant, the next day we jumped in a cab to Port Everglades. The embarkation was as good as it could be with very little waiting. The Cruise From the minute we stepped on board, the ship felt "right".....the decor was good, the stateroom was spacious (a super walk-in wardrobe) and EVERY member of the crew we met was friendly and went out of his/her way to be helpful. The President of RSSC happened to be on our cruise and during one of the sea days he held a meeting whereby guests could fire any question at him. I think that one of his most interesting answers was when asked why guests upon returning for their next cruise, didn't see the same crew, he said that RSSC recruit by attitude and then train the staff who are subsequently poached by other ships......this was evident as I can't praise the crew highly enough from our butler Joshua to the entertainment staff and as far as the Captain, who we were fortunate enough to join for dinner one evening. The food ,in general, was excellent apart from the first meal we had in Signatures restaurant which was not bad, but disappointing. We mentioned this to the cruise Director, Lorraine, in passing (not as a complaint) and our subsequent two meals in Signatures were fabulous. Excursions By and large the excursions were enjoyable, particularly Bar Harbour and Halifax (where our guide sang to us and told us jokes!!!) BUT beware a stop in Corner Brook, Nova Scotia - it became the butt of all the jokes on board...we were taken to a railway museum that had not opened for the summer yet, a ski resort that had closed after the winter and a tree trunk totem pole....all this on board a freezing cold school bus!!! We are at a loss to know why it was included in the itinerary Overall impression Our first voyage with Regent has left us impressed- excellent staff attitude and attention to detail. We will certainly cruise with them again Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Regent Voyager Transatlantic sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Reykjavik, Iceland May 15, 2010 This spring my husband reminded me it had been 16 years since we had vacationed alone together without our children. 2010 marked a big ... Read More
Regent Voyager Transatlantic sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to Reykjavik, Iceland May 15, 2010 This spring my husband reminded me it had been 16 years since we had vacationed alone together without our children. 2010 marked a big anniversary and my husband's 50th birthday - both warranted a special vacation. Cruising has long been our vacation of choice, and we been cruising for more than 20 years, and each year for the past 16 with our 2 sons. We've enjoyed all the activities offered by the megaships - especially with the boys. But this year we decided to leave the kids at home, and try something special. After lots of research and considering several options and recommendations - we choose the Regent Voyager. This cruise marked a lot of "firsts" for us. This was our first voyage with Regent; our first transatlantic sailing; and our first holiday longer than 3 days without our sons. Our itinerary began in Fort Lauderdale and ended in Reykjavik, Iceland, although some passengers stayed on through Southampton. We boarded the ship in New York on day 3 of the sailing. This ship stayed in North America until the 3 day journey across the Atlantic to Iceland. This was a bonus for my husband who needed to stay somewhat connected to his business while we were gone. Our ports of call included New York, NY; Newport, RI; Boston, MA; Bar Harbor, ME; Halifax, NS; Cornerbrook, NFLD, and Lans Aux Meadows, NFLD and Reykjavik, Icleand. The Ship and Our Suite Our first impression of the ship as we boarded was elegant and graceful. The voyager carries 700 guests and weighs in at 46,000 tons. It's large enough to provide all the amenities and options you could possibly want for your vacation - but still maintains an intimate feel. The Voyager is an all suite, all balcony ship. We were in a category D - 300 sq. ft, plus a 56 sq. ft. balcony. Our tastefully decorated suite was spacious and comfortable. It was a pleasure to unpack with a walk-in closet complete with drawers, hooks, shelves and plenty of hanging space with both padded and wooded hangers. The small vanity area next to the bed had a lighted makeup mirror and a drawer, perfect for storing cosmetics. The marble bathroom was the largest I've had on a cruise ship complete with a large vanity, good lighting, a glass enclosed shower and a separate soaking tub. The king size bed was dressed in luxurious Egyptian cotton linens and beautiful pillows. I overheard a guest at the purser's desk inquiry about purchasing the pillows - They were that lovely! The sitting area had a full sized sofa, two chairs and an oval coffee table. The coffee table was taller than normal height and also served for in-suite dining. A plastic square tabletop that was stored in the closet fit snuggly over the coffee table. Most mornings we ordered a continental breakfast in the room. The room service attendant would beautifully set the table with linens, silver and china making even a simple continental breakfast seem very special. The adjacent wall of built in cabinetry had a 27 inch flat screen TV, writing desk, glass ware, additional drawer space, and stocked mini fridge. The balcony was just off the sitting area, with two chairs and a table - the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee, or a glass of wine surrounded by the vast ocean and the sound of the lapping waves. Dining We had heard that Regent offered exceptional on board dining. If you think that cruise ship dining cannot match the experience of a land side, fine dining restaurant - think again! We were pleasantly surprised that each of the Voyager restaurants offered a dining experience that far exceeded our expectations. The elegant Compass Rose is the main dining room offering full service, and a great variety of selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can dine whenever you choose - there are no scheduled dining times. You can request a table for two, or choose to be seated with other guests. The Verandah restaurant is a slightly more casual experience. Breakfast and lunch at the Verandah feature fantastic buffet selections. Breakfast offers a great selection of fresh fruits, eggs and made to order omelets; lunch features a carving station and an exceptional array of salads and seafood including stone crab claws and seared Ahi tuna. Dinner in the Verandah is casual but elegant offering an antipasti and dessert buffet and main courses are selected from a menu and served at the table. Voyager features two outstanding specialty restaurants - Signatures and Prime 7 - and this is where the magic happens! Signatures is a classic French restaurant which operates in partnership with Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. The menu items are traditional with a contemporary twist, offering some lighter selections. The service begins with freshly baked bread and a pot of compound butter with black pepper and parmesan cheese. Bread and butter are something I usually try to avoid - but this cannot be missed. But be careful - you'll want to save room for desert! Prime 7 - a Classic Steak House is an intimate, dramatic, sexy restaurant with warm colours and comfy leather club chairs. This is a" big night out restaurant" - and every element of the dining experience from ambiance, service and cuisine is spot on! The steaks and seafood were simply outstanding! I indulged in a bone-in rib eye that would satisfy any carnivore and cooked perfectly to medium. The king crab legs with drawn butter were the best I've ever had, and a tempting selection of sides including twice baked potatoes and grilled asparagus will insure to get all your food groups. There is no surcharge to dine in the specialty restaurants, but reservations are required. You can make 1 reservation for each of the 2 restaurants on-line, once your cruise booking has been finalized. To ensure all guest have an opportunity to experience the specialty restaurants, the advance reservations are limited to 1 per restaurant. However, you can inquire about additional reservations once on board the ship. On our 11 night voyage, we had the pleasure of dining twice in each of the 2 specialty restaurants. Lounges The lounges and public areas on the ship - both inside and out - were most inviting. My favourite was Horizons, located all the way aft on deck 5. Gabrielle was the bartender and instantly knew our preferences. One day during the crossing, I was a little susceptible to the rolling seas. Gabrielle took it upon himself to make me a "special" tonic of ginger ale, fresh OJ, bitters and mint. I felt better within minutes of drinking it. Gabrielle's warm personality and exceptional service was as much a feature of the Horizon Lounge as the floor to ceiling windows offering spectacular ocean views. You can access the aft outside deck from Horizons and this space is furnished big comfy sofas with pillows where you can enjoy your cocktails or just relax while looking over the wake of the ship. Activities and Entertainment When you're not off in port experiencing the destinations through one of Regent's inclusive shore excursions, there is plenty to do on board. The Canyon Ranch Spa and fitness center offers everything you need to relax or burn off some of the added calories. I took Yoga and Pilates classes and hit the tread mill a couple of times during the Voyage. Wellness classes were also part of the featured curriculum. We met some great new friends that we frequently met up with in the cafe and the Horizon's lounge. Each day at 4pm Tea and Trivia begins. A beautiful high tea is served with white gloved servers to teams of fiercely competitive passengers who gather each afternoon to answer the 12 trivia questions. After the trivia - you have just enough time to dress for dinner and gather in the Observation lounge - all the way forward on deck 11. At 6pm each evening pre-dinner cocktails are enjoyed with a "name that tune" contest. We joined a team with other passengers and had a blast. Regent is well known for their enrichment programs. We attended a number of very informative and topical lectures. 2 scientists sailed with us and lectured on the History of the Vikings; and Volcanoes and Earthquakes. We also enjoyed the company of a TV Writer from the series "Frasier". He hosted several sessions in which he described many aspects of this hit sitcom including the character development and evolution of the show. It was very interesting. The Voyager Lounge was a great venue for both the lectures and the evening entertainment. We saw some dazzling musical entertainment as well as a hysterical husband and wife comedy act . At night after dinner and possibly a show, we retired to our suite and watched the occasional movie ( a selection of 200 movies, from new releases to classics were available through your stateroom TV, complimentary) Service Each of the staff members we encountered on board the ship was a pleasure. The service was attentive and gracious. The staff truly go out of their way to exceed your expectations and ensure your optimum enjoyment - from the room stewardess to the dining room staff . We made a point of recognizing several of the staff who served us during our voyage. The wines were served by sommeliers who made excellent suggestions and wine pairings. Jayson is a young, but knowledgeable sommelier who introduced my husband to his new favourite California Cabernet Sauvignon. When we returned to our suite that evening after dinner we found 2 bottles of the vintage - compliments of Jayson (and Regent). This gesture was indicative of personal service delivered by each of the staff members on board. It was All Included! This was our first experience on an all-inclusive ship. Included in the cruise fare are premium wines and spirits, unlimited shore excursions and gratuities. The selection of inclusive premium spirits and wines were wonderful. The shore excursions we took were well planned for the destinations and a variety of experiences for every traveller. When making our shore excursion selections before we sailed, 2 of our first choices where sold out. We waitlisted for these tours anyway and to our delight - we received notification before we sailed that we had cleared the waitlists and were confirmed. My understanding is that Regent works very hard to accommodate the wishes of guests. And we cannot say enough about the service. There is tremendous value and satisfaction in the inclusive nature of a vacation. It was refreshing pleasure to not constantly be signing for purchases. The Regent Alumni Each and every other passenger we met on the board was a past guest of Regent. It was remarkable! Many of them had enjoyed multiple voyages, and talked with us about the other Regent ships and some of the great journeys they had experienced. We have been communicating with our new friends, and hope we meet up with them on a future cruise. We have enjoyed the pleasure of sailing on most of the popular cruise lines. We now consider ourselves Regent Alumni and cannot wait for our next voyage. I would recommend Regent with confidence to anyone who is looking for a cruise experience offering refined luxury, exceptional cuisine, stimulating enrichment programs, and a casual elegant ambiance. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The majority of sailings in Alaska for 2010 are one way trips from Vancouver to Anchorage or the reverse, so this itinerary is fairly rare in that it embarked and disembarked in Vancouver. We opted for this sailing because we were sailing ... Read More
The majority of sailings in Alaska for 2010 are one way trips from Vancouver to Anchorage or the reverse, so this itinerary is fairly rare in that it embarked and disembarked in Vancouver. We opted for this sailing because we were sailing with my partner's parents and with some friends of our from Arizona. Some in the group wanted to take care of their own air, so this itinerary made the most sense from a fiscal standpoint. Pre-Cruise: We arrived in Vancouver a few days before the cruise and stayed at L'Hermitage, a small boutique hotel at the corner of Robson and Richards. It was more like staying in a nice apartment because it had a living room, sun room, bedroom, bathroom, laundry room and kitchen. The kitchen had Sub-Zero refrigerator and Bosch appliances. We had a great stay there and it was easy to venture to various parts of downtown quickly either walking or by cab. Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal at approximately 12:20pm. We were on the ship having lunch by 12:40pm. Very smooth and efficient embarkation. It may be the quickest one I have ever done. Suite/Cabin: We were in a Penthouse B suite, 1018. On Navigator, all rooms from Category H up to PH A are all the same. Cat G and H rooms are same size minus balcony. Cat F up to PH A are same size room plus same size balcony. Our friends were in Cat H and it was just as wonderful as the PH B we had. The suite was immaculate and remained immaculately maintained throughout the cruise. Our butler, Felix, was excellent. He even helped us dine at Prime 7 a second time. The bathrooms on Navigator are a bit better designed than on Regent's Mariner because they have separate showers and bathtub. The location of this suite was wonderful. The PH A suites above have the gym and spa above them, but the PH B on Deck 10 have none of those noisy treadmill runners above them. Also, PH B suites are on the same deck as the pool, which is nice to be able to nip out and see the surroundings passing by. 1018 was also fairly mid-ship, so a little less movement. We did not feel vibration in this room, but vibration was VERY noticeable in the aft part of the ship, esp. in Galileo Lounge, Stars Lounge, and La Veranda, the buffet. I did hear some passengers who booked Cat F (the suites in the rear of the ship) complaining about their difficulties sleeping, etc. I don't think I could have done it. The amazing thing is that those who sailed Navigator before and after refurbishment seemed to think the vibration was 70% less than it used to be since they refurbished the ship (including some new work on the tail and hull). Dining: Navigator has the Compass Rose (main dining room), La veranda (buffet), the Pool Grill, and Prime 7 (Specialty Steak House). Also, 24 hour room service. Food was consistently good, but not great. This is all very subjective. I still think Oceania has the best food at sea. Regent is good; don't get me wrong. The most interesting thing on this cruise was service. Overall, the service is outstanding. The one place this fell down was in La Veranda. No one offering coffee yet no self serve station for coffee. No one offering made to order egg dishes when you cannot order them at the counter (a sign there reminds you to order from a server). At lunch, same thing, no one offering water, drinks, etc. Dinner, no better. This seemed really odd to me seeing many of the folks in La Veranda provide excellent service when working in Compass Rose or elsewhere. I actually brought it up with many examples on the Comment Card mid-cruise, and I am surprised to say the service improved a lot. One of the maitre d's even found me one evening and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Clearly they have our photos somewhere on the ship. We ate at Prime 7 twice and had excellent food and service. Our friends caught a Halibut on a fishing excursion and the chef in Compass Rose grilled it for us and even prepared new potatoes and a special sauce to go with it. I was amazed at such things. We also dined on the last evening with the Cruise Director, Paul Reynolds. He is truly a warm, funny, wonderful guy.Excursions: The most amazing excursion ever was the Tracy Arm catamaran. The ship cruises into Tracy Arm on its way to Juneau and a large 2 story catamaran vessel pulls up along side the ship. We boarded and then left the ship and went miles into the fjord to areas the ship could not reach. We were able to get within a quarter of a mile of the North End of Sawyer Glacier. Just unbelievable. For someone who had been to Alaska before, I was blown away at being so up close to everything. I have to thank Cruise Critic because were it not for the Boards, I would never have even heard about this excursion seeing it didn't show up on-line at Regent and wasn't even findable. My partner zip-lined in Skagway and had a great time. We also did the Alaskan Chef's Table in Ketchikan. I wouldn't recommend this. Not very Alaskan and not very good cuisine. Skip it. Some folks did the jet boats up a river in Wrangell and raved about it. Shows: As usual, I didn't make it to any of the shows. Sorry. People seemed to like a number of them. Activities: The usual activities. Oddly, on this sailing, people were obsessed with Bingo. So many people played that the jackpots approached $800 at times! Lectures: Overall, good. In Alaska though, most chose to head out and see things in real life. Disembarkation: The smoothest I have ever seen. Orderly, quick, easy. Overall: Wonderful cruise. We would recommend Regent to just about anyone. I do have a slight leaning toward the Seven Seas Mariner, but Navigator is a fine ship. I just wouldn't book a cabin in Cat F so as to avoid the vibration in the aft of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Wednesday, June 30: I should preface this review with a disclaimer: we are not veteran cruisers. In fact we have taken only two cruises before this one and they were over 30 years ago in the Caribbean. Therefore take our opinions with a ... Read More
Wednesday, June 30: I should preface this review with a disclaimer: we are not veteran cruisers. In fact we have taken only two cruises before this one and they were over 30 years ago in the Caribbean. Therefore take our opinions with a large grain of salt. Our impression of Regent Seven Seas before we took our Alaska cruise was that it was a first class, luxury cruise line. Having now returned from our seven days aboard the Navigator, I am happy to report that that impression was absolutely correct. In fact, if anything the experience was better than I had expected. From the minute we were met at the Vancouver airport by Regent staff until we completed our trip in Seward, we were treated as if we were their most important guests (and in conversation with other cruisers, it seems that the other 488 passengers felt the same way). Our bus driver from the Vancouver airport to the dock gave us an entertaining overview of Vancouver as were in route and set the stage for the experience we were to have for the next week. After checking through U.S. customs at the port (after our one-hour stay in Canada!) we boarded the ship, were welcomed onboard with champagne and directed to the Seven Seas Lounge where we checked in and were invited to have lunch while our suites were being readied. Before going to lunch however, we stood in a short line at Prime 7 to see if we could change our on-line booked reservation to a different night and an earlier time. It was no problem to do so. (Tip: Don't be discouraged when you see on-line that all reservations have already been booked in Prime 7 or that all excursions are sold out; the ship obviously holds back a number of dining reservations and excursion seats to be given out on board. Also people change plans and cancel reservations after they get on board. We were able to book the popular Tracy Arm excursion on board even though the Regent web site had shown it sold out for weeks. One exception was the Bear Viewing on Prince of Wales Island which was not available although you could be put on a wait list in case of a cancellation.) After a buffet lunch in the Veranda Restaurant where we met the delightful Erkan, the Turkish assistant head waiter, we explored the ship. About 2:30 an announcement was made that we could proceed to our suites where we found our luggage waiting. In our suite a bottle of champagne (real champagne, not sparkling white wine as some Regent cruisers have found) awaited along with a plate of fresh fruit. We found the suite to be spacious, well-appointed and comfortable. The walk-in closet had plenty of space for our clothes and luggage with a variety of hangers and closet rods of varying heights; the large bathroom included a tub and a separate shower as well as ample shelves for toiletries; the king bed was very comfortable; the living area had a sofa, table with two chairs, a desk and desk chair; there was plenty of lighting and a number of American and European style electrical outlets; the balcony had two deck chairs and a table and proved to be one of our most popular places from which to watch the passing scenery. We were met in our suite by our delightful stewardess, Priscilla who asked if we preferred down or foam pillows, showed us how everything worked and promised to bring me a bar list so I could chose the two bottles of liquor that are provided for each suite. She also took our request for a different kind of beer, and extra Diet Coke and bottled water for our in-suite refrigerator. Priscilla made sure that our suite was always spotless and that anything that we wanted was promptly delivered. She also never failed to call us by name and ask if there was anything she could do for us every time we met in the passageway. We set sail on time with commentary by the ship's destination specialist, Terry Breen and were on our way to "The Great Land." Dinner tonight (and as it turned out, every night except for when we dined at Prime 7) was at Compass Rose. We found the food and the service here to be quite good as it was throughout the ship. We also found the complementary wines to be of good quality and were never tempted to pay for the premium wines that are available. (Tip: Erkan works here in the evenings and I would recommend asking to be seated in his section. If you want to thank him for something in Turkish, say "tay-shay-ku" and then tell him the bearded old guy from Atlanta who was on board June 30-July 7 gave you this tip.) After dinner we returned to our suite and collapsed as we were still on Atlanta time. Thursday, July 1: We spent this day at sea getting familiar with the ship, attending a destination lecture by the ship's resident Alaska expert, Terry Breen (who is excellent by the way; don't miss her talks) and making sure the bartenders knew how to make a proper Rob Roy (they did). We also attended a wine tasting that was one of the very few activities that was a bit disappointing. The wines were fine but the sound system continually malfunctioned and that seemed to rattle the head sommelier who was conducting the tasting. In the afternoon we enjoyed teatime and then attended the Captain's Welcome Reception before dinner and a show by the Jean Ann Ryan Singers and Dancers. I know that some have complained about the quality of the entertainment on the ship but we found it quite good. We especially enjoyed the performances of lead singers Eric Weaver and Lisa Clifford and the excellent Regent Signature Orchestra. Friday, July 2: We docked early in the morning in Ketchikan where, thanks to a clock setting snafu (Alaska is one hour earlier than Vancouver), we almost missed our first excursion, Bear Viewing on Prince of Wales Island. Thanks goodness we made it because this turned out to be one of the highlights of our cruise. We took off in our float plane and in minutes were over scenic Prince of Wales Island. Our pilot was an excellent guide as we learned about the history of the island and its flora and fauna. We spotted deer, eagles and bear during our flight, including two bears that were mating on a mountainside! Our pilot had never before seen this and he circled around three times so everyone could get a good look. We landed on small lakes twice and were able to get very close to a bear on the shore of one of them. Our pilot landed, killed the engine and then asked one of us to steer the plane as he went out of one of the pontoons to paddle the plane closer to the bear. The rest of us were able to step out on the pontoons to take photos. (Tip: Excursions are not always exactly as described in the advance cruise materials although an updated list of descriptions is provided . In this case, the description said that we would land once and then walk to a viewing platform to see bears [if there were an]). In reality, the pilot spent a lot of time flying around the island looking for wildlife and then put the plane down twice for close-up viewing. In our estimation this was far better than just flying to one place and hoping to see bears.) After returning to Ketchikan, we spent a few hours exploring the town visiting the Totem Heritage Center and Creek Street where a friend has a gallery. (Tip: The gallery is Alaska Eagle Arts Gallery at 5 Creek Street. Marvin Oliver, artist and gallery owner, is an internationally renowned artist whose monumental public art works can be found in Perugia, Italy, Paris, France and national and international locations. Marvin has won the coveted "Best of Division" prize at the Santa Fe Indian Market for a large glass sculpture.) We decided to have lunch in Ketchikan before re-boarding the ship and found our way to the Burger Queen which had been highly recommended by several previous cruisers. It did not disappoint. The halibut burger was delicious and the hamburgers looked good as did the hand-made milkshakes which we managed to resist. Back on the ship for our 3:00 p.m. sailing we relaxed awhile before the Block Party. At 5:45 everyone was invited to step into the passageway outside their suite with glass in hand to meet their neighbors. Stewards filled glasses with wine and passed hors d'oeuvres as we chatted with fellow cruisers. Captain McNeill, Cruise Director Paul Reynolds and several other senior staff dashed from deck to deck to meet everyone as well. This evening was dinner at Compass Rose, a show in the Seven Seas Lounge and off to bed to rest up for our early morning Tracy Arm excursion the next day. Saturday, July 3: Early this morning a catamaran pulled alongside the Navigator and we boarded at sea for our Tracy Arm excursion. This small vessel is able to take you much deeper into the fjord than can the Navigator and is an excursion that we would highly recommend. Seeing the Sawyer Glaciers close-up as well as the many ice bergs, bergy bits and growlers (your on-board guide will explain the difference between these different-sized bodies of ice) was exciting and made us feel we had truly now arrived in Alaska. A box lunch, packed for us by the ship's galley, was provided and we enjoyed it as we sailed out of the fjord and on to Juneau. (Tip: The catamaran will deliver you to Juneau at approximately the same time that the Navigator arrives so you won't miss any of your Juneau excursions.) After exploring downtown Juneau, we returned to the ship to rest up before taking the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching excursion. This excursion was also a lot of fun. We saw several whales including one that swam under our boat! The food served on board (included in the excursion price) was very tasty and included reindeer sausage, crab cakes, smoked salmon spread, roast beef carved to order, chicken salad, cheese, fruit, several desserts and numerous other items along with beer, wine and soft drinks (two "adult beverages" per passenger). (Tip: Grab a seat with a table to make dining easier; most of the seating is on long benches where you will face other guests across a table but several benches do not have tables.) Captain McNeill had planned to hang around off shore so we could watch the Independence Day fireworks from the ship at midnight but unfortunately the light rain that we had been having all day caused them to be canceled. So we sailed for Skagway. Sunday, July 4: Skagway was fun stop. It's a small town and we were able to watch and take part in their 4th of July festivities. It seemed that everyone had turned out for the parade, the tug of war, the egg toss and the other activities that took place all day on Skagway's main street. We had lunch in the Red Onion Saloon which was once Skagway's most exclusive brothel. The chili and the pizza were both good, the beer was cold and the atmosphere was a hoot. There is also a brothel museum here that we didn't visit. Monday, July 5 After taking the tender to shore, we took the Russian America excursion which included the Alaska Raptor Center where we were able to observe bald eagles and other birds that were being rehabilitated after injuries, the Sitka National Historic Park with its collection of totems and rain forest nature trail, the Sheldon Jackson Museum with an excellent collection of Native Alaskan artifacts, and St. Michael's Cathedral, the original mother church of Russian orthodoxy in North America. We had an excellent guide and enjoyed getting to learn more about the Russian influence and presence in this part of Alaska. We took the tender back to the ship mid-afternoon and had lunch at the Pool Grill. The cod burger and the hamburger were both quite good and the hamburger was cooked medium rare as ordered. After our late lunch, we rested in our suite before dinner and the evening show, "Le Cirque Navigator." If you have seen Cirque Du Soleil or any of its subsequent incarnations, this show will be somewhat familiar although the small stage and the limited number of performers dictated that it would be much smaller in scope. The performers were quite talented and everything was very well done which made for an entertaining evening. Tuesday, July 6: Today, a full day at sea was our last chance to enjoy all the Navigator had to offer. We had a light breakfast of coffee and pastries in the Navigator Lounge (the chocolate cookies were excellent) so we could get on deck to hear Terry Breen's talk as we approached Hubbard Glacier. The Hubbard Glacier experience was perhaps the highlight of the cruise. We were able to get closer to the glacier than was usually the case and we witnessed several calvings. Seeing and hearing these huge walls of ice breaking off from the glacier and plunging into the ocean was something we will never forget. Mid-morning we had tour of the galley followed by a cooking demonstration by executive chef, Anthony Gatherall. This was followed by a light lunch at Veranda (excellent soups). In the afternoon we did some packing, visited the shops to spend the remainder of our American Express ship board credit, won a few bucks at the slots in the casino and attended a short concert by one of the Navigator's pianists, Constantine. Later in the afternoon we joined our new friends Libby and Paul from Sydney for tea and trivia in the Galileo Lounge. Back to the suite to change before dinner (Prime 7 tonight) and then back to the Galileo lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail. Dinner at Prime 7 was an excellent dining experience. While the quality of the food was perhaps not quite up to the standards of the best fine dining restaurants on land, it was nevertheless quite good and the service couldn't have been better. Renata, our sommelier, was delightful, making excellent wine recommendations and teaching us a few words in Portuguese. We ended the evening at the Farewell Crew Capers. Seeing some of the people on stage who had been serving us, cleaning our suites and performing other duties around the ship was a lot of fun. We particularly appreciated that they performed several dances that were indigenous to their native countries. Wednesday, July 7: This morning we arrived early in Seward and transferred (just a short walk) from the ship to the Grandview Train to Anchorage. The train follows a very scenic route, taking about 4 1/2 hours to make the journey in observation cars which provide ample window space for taking photographs. A guide on board each car provides an informative and entertaining running commentary as the train makes its way inland. Complementary coffee is provided and other drinks (including cocktails) and snacks are available for purchase. (Tip: The seating is two passengers facing two others across a small table so make sure you inform the person handing out the boarding passes know how many are in your party so you can sit together.) It really doesn't matter which side of the train you sit on as the views are spectacular in both directions. It is also easy to get up and move into the aisles or go outside between cars to take pictures. As we neared the airport we were treated to a clear view of Mt. McKinley (Denali) which is often not visible due to cloud cover. In Anchorage the train goes right to the airport where cruisers with early flights check in. Those who have time are taken by motor coach to the downtown Hilton where Regent has reserved space on the top floor for you to relax (coffee and cookies are provided) and take in the views from the open deck or just check your carry-on bags and explore the downtown area. We walked around the streets close to the hotel and had lunch at the Alaska Salmon Chowder House which is just a few blocks away. The salmon chowder was very good as were the Alaskan King Crab Legs washed down with the excellent Alaskan Summer Ale. After lunch, we returned to the hotel for our transfer to the airport and our flight back to Atlanta. Our driver pointed out the small lake that was the float plane airport next to the regular airport and informed us that during the summer there were more takeoffs and landings at this float plane airport than at JFK airport in New York! Our flight was delayed about an hour due to an unexpected shift in the prevailing winds which required the recalibration of our take-off. Once airborne we had excellent views of the Alaskan coast and mountain ranges for several hours as we winged our way back to the lower 48. Back home in Atlanta we've had 10 days to reflect on our Regent Navigator cruise and can't imagine we could have had a better experience on any other cruise line. We loved everything about the ship itself, the level of service provided by the friendly crew, and the quality of food, drink and entertainment. Thanks Regent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Background We booked our cruise directly with Regent, which provided one interesting aspect. When the cruise was overbooked the direct bookers all were offered incentives to postpone and back out of the tour. It eventually reached getting ... Read More
Background We booked our cruise directly with Regent, which provided one interesting aspect. When the cruise was overbooked the direct bookers all were offered incentives to postpone and back out of the tour. It eventually reached getting an extra $7000 back in cash in addition to all your deposits of the cruise. Those who booked through travel agents never had that chance. We also opted for the pre-cruise land package called Discover Denali. That had good accommodations in Anchorage, in near Denali National Park and an extra night at a luxurious ski resort called Alyeska. Everything about the pre-cruise tour went very smoothly, and we went from the plane through the tour to the ship without a hitch. It also gave us the opportunity to meet some of the people we would spend time with onboard so we had a built in set of friends by the time we arrived at the Navigator. Embarkation This went without a hitch, and, as others have said, we went from the pier to our suite inside of 15 minutes. We were handed champagne as we entered, and we never stopped having people serve us drinks wherever we were on the ship for the next 7 days. We immediately went to the Destination desk to sign up for another shore excursion, which I had not added in advance. That took all of 2 minutes to make that change. Stateroom We were in room 718. The port side gave us a good view of most things as we cruised south. It was about 1/3 of the way back from the bow, and we had no problems with movement except during rough weather or first night on the open sea. The Regent staterooms are gorgeous and spacious. 350 square feet was more than enough room for the two of us, and we had plenty of closet space and drawer space to completely unpack. The bathroom has a shower (excellent pressure and drainage) as well as a tub. The only disappointment was that the satellite TV system lost several of its channels for the last three days, and all we had was FOX news to watch. The information channels with site visits by our cruise director Jamie were information, however. The rebroadcast of our onboard expert, Terry Breen, were also helpful if we missed the lectures live. She was outstanding. The room was kept spotless by our stewardess, Jocelyn, and she went out of her way to get us whatever we wanted. If we did this again, we would probably opt for one of the lower level staterooms without a balcony. We really didn't get much use out of it in Alaska. Ship Info The ship was just refurbished in December, and most everything seemed clean and new. The amount of routine cleaning, vacuuming and maintenance that went on throughout the voyage was impressive. It seemed as spotless as DisneyWorld. There were enough things to do at various stations throughout the ship. The pool got little use until the final day. There is a reasonably well-equipped gym and exercise room. There are about four laundromats for anyone who needed to clean a few things, but the cleaning services were not outrageously expensive. The casino was never overly used, but sometimes up to half the slot machines would be occupied. Elevator service was very prompt. We never had to wait more than a minute or two for a car when we chose not to walk. We did notice the vibration that other people have mentioned. It was sporadic and only in the stern. It was probably most bothersome when we had dinner next to the rear door of Prime 7. However it went away after awhile. Dining I had read that dining is what Regent excels at. We began eating at the buffet, and could have been satisfied there. Options abounded. There is Prime 7, a reservation-only space. We ate there once, on our last night, but the menus were so good at the "regular" restaurant (Compass Rose) that we wouldn't have missed it. Our normal dinner always had beautifully prepared appetizers and interesting salads. Soups were outstanding, and the entrees, particularly fish dishes, were as good as I can get anywhere where we live. The house red and white wine seldom left us needing alternatives, and the desserts were wonderful, too. For those watching their weight, the back of the menu has a "light" calorie restricted four-course meal suggested by the company that runs the spa (which we did not use). Breakfast and lunch were available at the buffet room or out on the pool deck. One of the small bars also served some breads and other assorted items for a continental breakfast. They have a terrific espresso/cappuccino maker for anyone having Starbucks withdrawal. Altogether, food was a real highlight. Activities We never wanted for something to do. Despite the small size of the ship, there were games, trivia contests each day, shuffleboard and a putting green, lectures, and a whole host of things to partake of. We were too busy taking advantage of the free excursions to get involved in much, but opportunities for bridge and other organized activities were adequate. One interesting ploy was to hold a late afternoon "Block Party." At the sound of a gong, everyone was supposed to go out into the hallway to meet their neighbors while the crew served champagne and hors d'ourves. That was actually helpful and one of the best ways we got to meet people. Children's Clubs There were more young kids than I expected to see, and there were several young crew members acting as counselors and keeping them entertained throughout the duration. This isn't a strong point, but they seemed to have handled it very well. Service In a word - outstanding. Everyone, from running into the captain just after boarding, to the cruise directors to our waiters and our cabin personnel, were friendly and constantly asking us what more they could do for us. Since there is a no tipping policy, this was particularly impressive. I never saw anyone ask for anything that they couldn't get, whether at a meal or anywhere else on board. In another word - classy. Entertainment Again, since I have nothing to compare it to, I can't really gauge this. There was a different show almost every night by the resident singers and dancers, including a Cirque show that was very impressive. The singers were professional, the dancers were energetic, and the whole production was always entertaining, if not overly imaginative. The ship orchestra was very good in all their different forms. They backed the productions and did other lounge shows. I really enjoyed the little jazz trio when it played. On the final night, the screened Avatar in the theater. Almost no one went; I guess everyone had already seen it in 3-D. It was better than what I was expecting. Shore Excursions There isn't too much to see in the cities themselves that we visited. We took advantage of a least one excursion at each port (and two in Juneau). Over half of ours were extra cost options, but even $199 to fly in a helicopter to a glacier seemed more than reasonable. The side trip to Endicott Arm (Tray's Arm was fogged in) was impressive. If we had never done anything but the complimentary trips, however, we could have been happy. There are a lot to choose from in every port, and they cater to a wide variety of interests. Disembarkation This was the only thing that didn't go as smooth as silk. We didn't receive our luggage tags and instructions until long after most others did, for some reason. And even then, we didn't have a time to leave listed on our sheet. As it turned out, that was moot because people who were scheduled to leave at 8 pm were standing around for nearly 45 minutes. I saw the captain and the ass't cruise director running around during this time, and it seems as though something was going wrong. We, fortunately, did what you weren't supposed to do and stayed comfortably in our cabin. We let our stewardess go about her business and kept out of the way. We finally got to disembark about an hour after we were scheduled (9:15 or so) and the process went smoothly after that as we boarded a bus directly to the airport. Dealing with the airport in Vancouver is a whole separate nightmare. I've never been in so many lines, including a separate wait to drop off your checked luggage after you check in. Summary Regent Seven Seas Navigator was all I could imagine a cruise should be. We were pampered and fussed over and basically had our ever whim catered to. Alaska itself is spectacular, but this ship really made us want to keep sailing. The all-inclusive nature of the Regent price had the added advantage of arriving back home with only an extra $200 charged to my credit card. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Nearly every aspect of our cruise was perfect. The Regent Air arrangements worked well for us. We paid the small deviation fee and enjoyed 4 perfect days in Rome on our own prior to the cruise. We loved the quick and personable check in, ... Read More
Nearly every aspect of our cruise was perfect. The Regent Air arrangements worked well for us. We paid the small deviation fee and enjoyed 4 perfect days in Rome on our own prior to the cruise. We loved the quick and personable check in, and were quickly enjoying a lovely lunch in La Veranda. If you are considering moving up to a luxury cruise this area of the ship is such an improvement, with white table cloth seating, drink service, and wonderful buffet service at lunch. This was nothing like the huge crush of people one usually experiences on check in day! Our champagne glasses were never empty. In short order the suites were available, and we had loads of hanging space and drawers in the walk-in closet, making unpacking a pleasure. The marble bathroom was lovely, but my husband was glad he's on the short side. The bathrooms that still have bathtubs are short on headspace, but we heard they are converting all the rooms to showers over time. Although we were concerned that the room was near the elevators, we never had a noise problem. The bed was like a cloud! The room sparkled and was well designed. I loved the built in vanity. Dining and Entertainment We were impressed with all our meals. We enjoyed most breakfasts as room service, as we often had early excursions. (It was 10 ports in 12 days, so quite intensive!) Room service was always prompt, and the food as good as it can be when it has to travel. One breakfast highlight was champagne and caviar and eggs benedict on one of our quiet mornings, all as table service up in La Veranda. We had gone up for a "light breakfast." We ate most lunches either on excursions or as late lunches at the Pool Grille. They offered some tasty paninis as well as the more usual grill fare. We had most of our dinners at Compass Rose. We always were seated immediately, whether just the two of us or in a group of 4 or 6. Most of the tables for two are window seats, which was lovely. The food was creative, delicious, served at the proper temperature, and always graciously served. The wine glasses were never empty. The few times they were serving a wine type we don't care for, they happily found another choice for us. We also really enjoyed dinners at La Veranda. We assumed buffet style meals at dinner, so avoided this choice at first. We later discovered that all the appetizers are served as an antipasto buffet, but the balance of the meal is table service. We had wonderful meals up there as well, and enjoyed one dinner outside. We enjoyed both the meals at Signatures and Prime 7, and wished we had had one more opportunity there. We had put our name on a wait list but the cruise seemed fully booked so we weren't surprised when nothing developed. Excursions Part of the appeal of this cruise was the itinerary and the included excursions. Some were very good, others less than spectacular. In all cases Destination services were very organized and helpful. After our first underwhelming experience in Sardinia, we checked in with them on the balance of our planning and they made some helpful changes. The group size was too large in Pompeii, although the guide was excellent it was hard to move around as a group of 45. Most tours seemed to be closer to 30 or under on the coach buses. It was extremely crowded at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia when all 8 Regent buses arrived at the exact same time. But generally we enjoyed the balance of activities in each planned day. It certainly wasn't Regent's fault that there were 1500+ Princess passengers at our stop in Oia, in Santorini. On balance we felt we saw and experienced an amazing range of cultures and history in a short time. Service was flawless...in the dining rooms, in the lounges, in our stateroom. We never had any need or want go unattended for a moment. The smiles and graciousness seemed very genuine. Entertainment We wondered what to expect on a smaller ship, but found all of the same venues, just a bit smaller in size. There were several good quality production shows, some individual singers and musicians highlighted, and a great spirited trio (Nature's Rhymths) that seemed to be everywhere on the ship. Jamie, the cruise director, also seemed to be everywhere making sure people were happy. A fun event was the "block party" where we met people on our deck, and all the staff literally ran from deck to deck meeting and greeting guests. We weren't up late many evenings, but enjoyed the times we were. My husband also enjoyed a couple of port lectures on Tunisia and Yugoslavia. He enlightened me as I chose to enjoy the lovely lounges on the pool deck. It was great having such a seamless and smooth shipboard experience, and we plan to cruise again with Regent. It was also great being on a smaller ship. We really had the chance to enjoy meeting more people, because we were more likely to run into them in the course of a day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I would like to share with you my review of our cruise to Alaska aboard the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. This was our first ever cruise and while my husband lived in Alaska years ago, it was my first visit to Alaska. The two-for-one deals ... Read More
I would like to share with you my review of our cruise to Alaska aboard the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. This was our first ever cruise and while my husband lived in Alaska years ago, it was my first visit to Alaska. The two-for-one deals and the all inclusive nature of the cruise made it very affordable and I am very glad that we made the decision to go the luxury route. From the moment we arrived at Canada Place in Vancouver to boarding, we were made to feel special. The line for the HAL ship was quite long but we were asked if we were cruising with Regent and then we were ushered to a non-existent line and from then until boarding we did not wait more than 10 minutes. We boarded at about 12 noon and made our way to check in, where we were offered champagne, and then to La Veranda for lunch. This buffet is like no other I have ever encountered. The food was fresh and delicious. After lunch we explored the ship as we waited for our suite to become ready. Just a little after 2:00PM they announced they we could see our suite (#945) and we found all our luggage waiting for us. I spent the next couple of hours watching a free movie (Alice In Wonderland) from a large selection of free movies and unpacking and decorating our suite for our 50th birthdays. My husband was celebrating his 50th on the 9th and I was the following day. After getting settled we dressed up for sail away and joined our fellow cruisers on the upper forward deck. The weather was beautiful and warm and we immediately started making friends. I was pleased to see a mix of ages and everyone was very friendly. I told my husband that it must be because everyone was so darned happy to be there. After sail away we returned to La Veranda for a Prime Rib dinner that was melt-in-your-mouth good. We were off to a spectacular start. The next day we awoke to a rather gray sky but no rain. Neither of us experienced any problems with seasickness, I was taking Bonine every day at bedtime and my husband was taking nothing after feeling "foggy" from the Bonine. The inside passage seas were very calm which I am sure helped us get our sea legs. The Bonine (Dramamine Non-Drowsy) also gave me the great benefit of deep sleep. It worked for me. I also had ginger candy and Sea Bands, just in case. Never needed them. We spent the day having breakfast at La Veranda, which became our habit, enjoying the scenery, setting up our internet connection, writing a brief blog and having lunch with our Cruise Critic Roll Call friends at Compass Rose. This restaurant served you after ordering and the food was also very, very good. I had an amazing shrimp and avocado sandwich. We were offered a white or red wine, beer, soda or juice and there was no check to sign. It was strange getting up and leaving the table without figuring out the tip. Fantastic! We ordered dinner in our suite and strolled around the deck where we saw WHALES! There was whale blow all around us and there must have been about 20 Humpback Whales all around the ship. A few got very close, it was really exciting as I had never seen whales in the wild before. We then called it an early night as we were heading for... Ketchikan We arrived early in the morning and there was a light rain falling. This was completely expected and really a nice change from our 90 degree summer back home. We dressed for the weather and after an in-suite (24-hour room service) breakfast of fabulous bacon and scrambled eggs, fresh melon, fried potatoes and fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee, we headed into town for some shopping. The stores were open very early and we bought a bunch of things which we had shipped home for a coupon price of $9.99. Then we explored Creek St. and the creek was at low tide. There were many salmon present, dead and alive, and the smell was intense. We visited Dolly's House and took the tour. "Dale" gave us a great history, with jokes included, and we enjoyed this tour. Well worth the $3.50 each. We then made our way back to the ship to prepare for our first (free) excursion arranged by Regent, a Cruise of George Inlet & Crab Feast. I chose this excursion especially for my birthday because I LOVE crab. The rain had stopped but the sky remained cloudy as we boarded the bus for the George Inlet Lodge. There we boarded enclosed party boats which took us on a short cruise to where the crab pots were located. I volunteered to pull up the crab pot (a nice birthday memory). We received a lesson on identifying crab and crabbing in general. The weather cleared and the sun came out! It was really nice. On the way back we spotted a few harbor seals, and a young eagle. The guides were very nice, informative and very funny. We left them a tip onboard. At the George Inlet Lodge we all found tables and were served a crab feast to end all crab feasts. A glass of wine or soda was also included. Large, heaping, steaming bowls of fresh dungeness crab. I was in heaven. I especially enjoyed the ladies who brought us constant refills of melted butter. Along with our tablemates, we competed in a contest to create the highest mound of crab shells. This is when we coined the term, "crabalanche". We finished with a really great piece of blueberry topped cheesecake. My husband, who is not a big fan of crab, was served a cajun styled chicken breast. As we boarded the bus back to the ship it began to rain again. We found a table at the Pool Grill where we enjoyed a few drinks with our new friends. We had dinner at La Veranda and, once again, fell into a deep sleep to the rocking of the ship. The next day was... Tracy Arm & Juneau The skies were completely clear this morning as we woke up approaching Tracy Arm. We bundled up because it was really cold and quite windy up on deck. This fjord rivals those in Norway, that is what Terry Breen told us as she narrated our approach. We spent the next few hours marveling at the amazing scenery and enjoying the serenity and silence of the fjord. We did not choose to take a separate catamaran excursion which took people much deeper into the fjord and within view of the Sawyer Glacier. The Navigator went as far as the waterfall and then made a slow turn and sailed out of the fjord. We sailed into a fog bank and heard the fog horns as we headed to La Veranda for breakfast. By the time we arrived in Juneau the sun was out and the day much warmer. We had lunch at the Pool Grill and then walked around the town for awhile. I thought the prices here were higher and we closed the purse strings. We headed back to the ship and boarded our bus for our free excursion, a Native Canoe Adventure at Mendenhall Glacier. We boarded 12 man canoes (no motors allowed on the lake) and paddled up very close to the face of the glacier. Our guides were personable and friendly and gave us lots of good information. We also stopped at Nugget Falls which was spectacular as well. We had a snack before paddling back to the beach for the bus ride back to the ship. We ate at Compass Rose for dinner which was great and a night cap at the Galileo Lounge and early to bed because tomorrow we head for... Skagway On this day we awoke to clear skies! We were up early and decided to have an early breakfast and then walk the 1/2 mile into town. Most of the stores were closed and since we were the only ship in port, we had the town to ourselves except for some locals in a small cafe. We found one open store, a Russian American store, here we spent a bunch again on some really special things like a classic Russian style winter hat and Russian nesting dolls. The clerk here was really nice and we enjoyed listening to him talk in his slight Russian accent. We headed back to the ship and at the small boat harbor we saw OTTERS! I LOVE otters! There was a group of 5 or 6 of them playing on the dock and swimming amongst the boats. We took pictures and laughed as we made kissing noises and called them. They would turn and look right at us. We then went aboard and prepared for our free excursion, Zip Lines! This was my favorite excursion. Here the guides took very careful care of us and we felt safe and secure always. We really bonded with our fellow zip liners and we cheered each other on. We made fast friends here and on return to the ship we enjoyed a late lunch and drinks with them at the Pool Grill. After resting up and sail away, we had dinner with our roll call friends at Compass Rose. Another fantastic, perfect day! How could it be better? Oh, it was, next was... Sitka The dawn at Sitka revealed a charming town with lovely island homes, Russian influenced buildings and churches and a blindingly bright beautiful sunny day. After breakfast at La Veranda (loved the Chef here, Martin Jordan) we took a tender (small boat hung on the side of the ship) into port and we headed off for some serious shopping. Again we splurged and decided to have our purchases shipped home rather than trying to fit it all into our luggage. We met up with our free excursion for this day, The Sea Life Discovery Tour, and boarded a semi-submersible boat. They took us out for a view of a really green, murky sea floor where we saw starfish, a crab, small fish and lots of sea grass. This was a bit boring so we went up on the outside deck and enjoyed views of a Kelp Forest from above. The day was spectacular and it was really nice being out in the sun. We went back down for the divers who took cameras deeper and showed us many more fish and sea life. One diver scared me silly when he popped up in my window with a giant multi-legged starfish. They were very entertaining. After the undersea part we had a very informative, top deck ride, back to the harbor where we boarded the tender back to the ship. We stopped at the Pool Grill for lunch and headed to our cabin to prepare for a special dinner with 7 new friends. The food was good although I did not particularly like the soup. After dinner we went to the only show we saw which was a Navigator version of Cirque De Soleil and was very well done. After the show I decided to try my luck on the slots as my husband headed back to the suite. After just a few pulls I was ahead $15.00 and that was it for me. I rarely win so I always give up when I am ahead. When I arrived back at the suite I stepped out on our balcony and was shocked and amazed to see a huge display of the Aurora Borealis!! It was not very colorful but it stretched all the way across the sky with rays of light shooting upwards. Fantastic. I immediately returned to the casino where I told my friends to come see and I promptly emptied most of the casino as everyone headed up on deck to see. With a less than 10% chance, how lucky were we? I could not believe that the next day was the day we would visit the famous... Hubbard Glacier We were up very early and bundled up for the cold to another spectacular day. The dawn was incredibly beautiful as we cruised into Yakutat Bay and watched the sun come up and illuminate the magnificent mountains all around us. As we approached Hubbard Glacier the mountains and the glacier became larger and larger. There was very little ice (another blessing) and we were able to get very close to the face of this 6 mile long glacier. We concentrated on 3 miles of it and watched calving of the 350 foot face and listened to the amazing sounds a glacier makes. Cracking, booming and groaning, we were presented with quite the show. Terry Breen (our onboard cultural anthropologist and guide) was able to pinpoint where the ice would calve and she was right on! As the captain turned the ship around slowly we made our way down to the suite as the decks were packed with everyone standing at the railings. We were treated to the best of the calving from the comfort of our balcony and caught all of it on rapid fire photos and video tape. It was awe inspiring and could not have been a better visit to this magnificent sight. Magical. We had a great BBQ lunch at the Pool Grill and started packing our bags. We dressed up extra nicely because this was our one night at the reservation required restaurant, Prime 7. I had a great full Maine Lobster and Brian had a New York Strip. The food was great but, honestly, it was no better or worse than all the other food we had onboard. All of it was awesome. We returned to the cabin, finished packing and set the bags outside to be picked up. It was sad to leave but we were anxious to head home to see our kids. The next day we rode the... Grandview Train to Anchorage After breakfast at La Veranda with many goodbyes and hugs for the staff and our friends we boarded the train right were we docked in Seward. The time passed quickly as we rode along through the fog, with some breaks for views of glaciers and Moose country. The only wildlife we saw was a Moose butt as it headed off into the fog and an eagle in a tree. Someone saw Dall Sheep but we missed them. The fog made it difficult. We arrived right at the Anchorage Airport where some went straight to their flights while a number of us with later flights we were bussed over to the Anchorage Hilton where Regent had booked the 15th floor Hospitality Suite for us to lounge in and enjoy coffee, tea and water while we waited for shuttles that left on the hour to take us back to the airport. Our flight was really late (10:50PM) but it was a non-stop flight and we could sleep on the way home. We spent some time walking around and getting a few last minute souvenirs (I got my Ulu Knife) and we had lunch at the Glacier Brewhouse. The food was great and they had wi-fi so we were able to Skype with our kids and see their happy faces for the first time since we left for Vancouver. The internet connection on the ship was slow and I only used it to upload short blogs each day. Once we returned to the Hilton a nice employee took pity on us a gave us the access code for the hotel wi-fi so were were able to connect from the Regent suite (like a large restaurant area with booths and tables) so everyone was checking their flights because they were concerned about the fog. Unfortunately, we were not able to enjoy the view from the 15th floor because of the fog. Eventually it was time to board the 7:00PM shuttle to the airport so we picked up our big luggage from a secured area and they loaded them on to a shuttle for us. It was a quick ride to the airport where we waited on briefly for Frontier to open their ticket counter and I weighed our 3 bags to find them 48.2 pounds, 49.1 pounds and exactly 50.0 pounds! Awesome! We were quickly through security and found a table at the Chili's Too restaurant where we spent an hour waiting for our flight. Then we headed over to the gate and boarded a full flight home. A perfect end to a perfect vacation. Overview Alaska is spectacular and amazing and I returned a changed person, for the better. Don't say "maybe"...GO! I cannot recommend it more highly. We very much enjoyed Terry Breen and we attended a couple of her lectures where we learned a lot. She really added to the entire experience with her narration over the loudspeakers, which never intruded on the peace and quiet of our suite. And what a suite it was, it was huge! The shower was huge and the bathtub was deep. Everything was new, clean and luxurious, great feather pillows! We never heard a neighbor or people in the hall. You can read our blog here: http://alaskacruise2010.shutterfly.com where we have posted about 175 pictures. I hope you like it. Feel free to comment or ask questions, I will check and respond. My husband said the only concern he had were loose screws in the suite but, with the vibration in the aft part of the ship, it is understandable. We were not bothered by the vibration, it is a ship after all. Some might find it bothersome though. I understand that mid-ships and lower decks it was not as noticeable, if at all. We really enjoyed the intimacy of a smaller ship (490 passengers) and were very pleased that we rarely had a wait for anything. I was also impressed that I never heard the word "NO". Everyone was smiling and happy, including all the passengers. A special shout out and kudos to: Arul (with the great smile) and Jerel (who read my mind) at the Pool Grill, The Sommeliers, Daniella, Mykola and Plamen (The Bear), Headwaiter, Delfim Bento Couto and Hostess, Monique from Compass Rose. Anatoli Makaev in La Veranda who was very accommodating and my special friend, Waitress, Pornipa (Em). Our Steward, Augustin (thank you) and the Stewardess who greeted me each day so sweetly, Lorie. The Prime 7 Maitre D, Christiaan Du Plooy (great sense of humor) and especially the Chef, Martin Jordan who never failed to make me laugh. Thank you all for making our once-in-lifetime extra special and very memorable. We appreciate you and we miss you. We hope to see you again someday...soon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Had a fantastic time on this ship and felt that staff catered for our every wish. The free tours were excellent and we paid a little more to go on a few trips on a helicopter to land on a glacier and in the fjords on a small sea plane. ... Read More
Had a fantastic time on this ship and felt that staff catered for our every wish. The free tours were excellent and we paid a little more to go on a few trips on a helicopter to land on a glacier and in the fjords on a small sea plane. The food was of a very high standard and we enjoyed the shows. The best things was that with Regents everything is excluded . It was nice not to have to think of how much a bar bill will be and how much to tip all the time. A nice touch is that they welcome you with a bottle of champagne in your extremely spacious suite. They also ask what drinks you prefer in your cabin fridge. The king sized bed is very comfortable with top class linens and the bathroom has a shower and a bath with top toiletries. The wardrobe is a walk in and the TV has lots of free films and boxsets. The reason we went on this ship in the first place was that it was not too big only having about 480 passengers so you don't have to wait too long to get on tenders and feel too lost in a crowd.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
The price of this luxury cruise was not high, considering the "all inclusive" stuff and size of the cabins (300 sf+ balcony). We booked one of the few outside cabins but were offered a $400 pp upsell to a balcony a week before ... Read More
The price of this luxury cruise was not high, considering the "all inclusive" stuff and size of the cabins (300 sf+ balcony). We booked one of the few outside cabins but were offered a $400 pp upsell to a balcony a week before sailing. The Navigator sailed from Seward with 390 souls on board, on a ship with capacity of 490 or so. The empty cabins meant no long lines, never a wait in the Compass Rose for a two or four top, and extra reservations at steak-house-type Prime 7. We scored four of them without trying. We did Regent Air. Note that if they can't fly you in timely to make the sailing, they fly you in one day early, and pick up the Hilton room for the night before sail. So our vacation had an extra "free" day. The itinerary had two more stops in Alaska and then Petropravosk, four stops in Japan and finally Bejing, with the 6* Regent Hotel for one night. I won't describe each stop except to say Bejing was my favorite. A "young" happening city, with prices one-third that of Tokyo. On board, the food was great. As you may know, most seafood on a ship has been frozen, but the meat and fowl, and presentation were great. Oh, in Yokohama the chef did buy some fresh yellow fish and Kobe beer for dinner that night. 46 "free" wines to choose from but the wine dude always brought a white and red of the day, and if you wanted another, it took a few minutes. In Prime 7, they understood the term "Pittsburgh Char" for my filet. We had room service breakfast almost every morning. Once I put out the hanger after midnight, and they missed it. Most excellent casino staff. Two blackjack tables six deck shoe with good rules and $10, or occasionally $5 min. One roulette, one craps, one three-card poker. Excursions included. Some with extra cost. I have mixed feeling about these. Daily bus trips get old, especially in the rain, but most of us reasonably well-off older travelers won't ditch a "free" trip to arrange our own travel, which I think we should have. We did do it in Bejing, as the fact that we arrived during a national holiday week resulted in a bus trip from heck. Five hours of traffic jam toward the Great Wall and we never did make it, turned back by police due to a traffic accident. China a police state? Couldn't prove it by me, and the traffic was out of control. The next day we skipped the bus trip and caught a cab (Chinese characters a necessity) to a store we heard about. Cabbie nicked us for 15 Yuan for a three mile trip! That's about $2.15, lol. True. Entertainment: Overall a C. High points were Flutist Guzman, Singer Brandi Chapman (Ann Margaret-Susan Anton type), lecturers Sandra Bowern and Stewart Nelson, and the trombone guy in the band is good. Transfers from plane to ship and back were well handled. We did coach to Alaska and upgraded to Business from Bejing. That was a long flight. Regent isn't perfect but travel never is. The staff was relaxed (not rushed) and very polite. This is our second Regent Cruise, and since we have reached Silver Status (21 days) interent and one hour of ship to shore phone is free, a hugh bonus. We will cruise Regent again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
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