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Sail Date: December 2005
Overall Evaluation: This review is intended for Cruise Critic readers and Radisson staff. It is long and detailed so the summary is presented here. You can read the details if you wish. After years of enjoyable cruises aboard ships from ... Read More
Overall Evaluation: This review is intended for Cruise Critic readers and Radisson staff. It is long and detailed so the summary is presented here. You can read the details if you wish. After years of enjoyable cruises aboard ships from Celebrity, Costa and Royal Caribbean, it comes time to try something a little upscale  fewer guests, more space; fewer frills (Climbing wall, anyone?) more luxury; fewer activities, more time to reflect. So we embark on our first Radisson Seven Seas Cruises experience. The cruise was amazing. The ship and cabin, the staff, the dining and the amenities all exceeded our expectations. With a capacity of 700 guests and an actual count of 615, the smaller ship never felt crowded or even populated. We found this cruise to be an excellent value if all things are considered  especially for the six-star luxury it afforded. Details follow. Embarkation: Shortly after Noon, embarkation from Port Everglades went very smoothly. A port staffer met our car and gave us luggage tags with our cabin number. Ordinarily guests would have luggage tags ahead of time with their travel documents. We booked late. Entering the ship on Deck 5 we were presented with crystal flutes of champagne, which we were to find a very frequent pleasure, and informed that our cabin would be ready at 3 PM. Restaurants for lunch were suggested and we went to Deck 4 to Compass Rose. We used the time to make reservations at Signatures, the Cordon Bleu French restaurant, and Latitudes, the Asian fusion specialty venue. Fresh fruit, fresh flowers and a chilled bottle of good Champagne (actually a sparkling white wine from the Loire Valley) greeted us as our cabin was ready exactly at 3 PM. Our luggage and cabin attendant arrived minutes afterward. We made our in-cabin liquor selections and un-packed into the roomy walk-in closet. There were four cans of beer in the fridge along with four more left by the cabins previous occupant along with two bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, also left behind. Ship: The Seven Seas Voyager is simply beautiful. The dEcor is elegantly understated, a sort of chic grace and style; the Atrium, extending from Deck 4 to Deck 11, is quite attractive although the stairs across the space detracted somewhat from an open and airy feeling. There are two banks of elevators for use by guests. Only the two aft elevators go to Deck 12. The cluster of five elevators forward have curved glass walls looking out into the Atrium. The jogging track on the Sun Deck, Deck 12, mid-ships, overlooks the pool and measures 7 laps to the mile. Public areas: Restrooms  They are large, elegantly decorated and spacious. There are always fresh flowers and terry hand towels. Pool: There is a small salt water pool and two jetted hot tubs on Deck 11. There are always ample lounges even on sea days. The tables and chairs are genuine teak. A cruisers secret  there is a secret hideaway for sunbathing on Deck 5 sunny side with plenty of lounges. Check it out. Cabin: Our Category H cabin, Deck 6 aft, the standard Deluxe Suite, measures 306 square feet plus a 50 square foot veranda. All cabins on the Seven Seas Voyager have verandas. The cabin is almost twice the size of a standard mass-market cruise line cabin. The all marble bathroom accommodates a full-size bathtub plus a glass-enclosed shower. For once I found ample storage space for personal items. There is a walk-in closet with more than ample hanging and drawer storage and a safe. The cabin itself is furnished with a king-size bed, not queen, a large sofa, cocktail table with two chairs, a writing desk with a chair, a vanity with chair  in other words, plenty of room and a veranda with two chairs and a table. The cabinets above the mini-fridge and desk contained crystal Champagne flutes, old fashioned glasses, water glasses and wine glasses plus coasters, napkins, stirrers, an ice bucket and a Champagne bottle stopper. The television with DVD player features 21 channels with the usual on-board telecasts plus CNN International, ESPN International and FOX News Channel. There are four continuous movie channels with a printed schedule in the cabin. There is a DVD library on Deck 5 with hundreds of titles  drama, comedy and childrens. Our cabin attendant, Rosalie, was superlative. The cabin was always made-up and always ready with ice, flowers and fresh fruit. Additional cans of tonic were promptly delivered and I never again ran out. There was some sound and vibration from the propulsion system. When large swells were encountered in the Pacific off Mexico, there were numerous clicks and rattles concentrated at the vanity mirror. A few small pieces of cardboard diminished this nuisance somewhat. But the vibration and noise is disappointing considering the otherwise outstanding qualities of the ship. Dining: There are four open seating restaurants plus a grill at the pool. La Veranda  Located on Deck 11 Aft, the buffet-style restaurant has a buffet line on each side of the ship. In addition to the buffet lines, at breakfast there are two omelet stations. At lunch there are stations offering pizza, pasta, carved meats and other dishes. Desserts are given their own station. Breakfast features one hot cooked-to-order special every day delivered to your table: French toast, minute steak, banana pancakes, eggs Benedict, etc. Otherwise the breakfast buffet is rather consistent although of excellent quality: eggs, bacon, sausages, hash, baked beans, broiled tomatoes plus cold meats, smoked salmon and other European-style items. Omelets and toast are made to order and delivered to your table hot. At lunch the food is quite good with a large number of choices. The salad bar is especially good. There are always one or more fish dishes, a pasta station and roasted meat  goose, turkey, prime rib, pork roast  at a carving station. Very attentive waiters bring drinks and special meal orders. On alternate evenings (6:30 PM to 9 PM), the port side of La Veranda is transformed alternately into a Mediterranean Bistro or Italian Steakhouse. Dinner begins with a visit to the antipasto bar: dolmas, marinated vegetables, meats and cheeses, cold shellfish, other innovative appetizers, salads and much more. The Mediterranean Bistro menu features soups, pastas and several main courses of veal, beef, chicken and fish  all uniformly excellent. A sample Mediterranean Bistro dinner: antipasto buffet, Tuscan bean soup, salad, pasta with proscuitto and tomato sauce, veal with truffle sauce. The beef medallions with Balsamic reduction are especially memorable along with two lobster tails in tomato reduction. There is always a hot dessert  bananas Foster, flambEed peaches, etc.  as well as a dessert bar. Coffee, espresso, Cappuccino is offered. After dinner liqueurs are available. The Italian Steakhouse was quite similar but with more grilled meats. There are always good, medium quality white and red wines offered. No Barolos, unfortunately. These may be ordered and paid for from a separate wine list. Cocktails are also available. The Pool Grill  Deck 11, outside and mid-ships, 11 AM to 4 PM. Featuring cooked-to-order grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled fish of the day, minute steak, grilled chicken breast, pizza, veggie burger and Cuban sandwiches. One places an order with table number and a waiter promptly delivers the food, hot and tasty. Days at sea featured special theme buffets set on additional tables. Some examples: a caviar and vodka bar (included) with stone crab claws, king crab legs and steamed mussels plus a complete German buffet with Heineken beer on tap (I cant figure the connection); a grilled steak and lobster buffet; a Mexican buffet; grilled fresh fish brought on board at Huatulco featuring several varieties; and Burger Heaven with a variety of cooked-to-order grilled hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, sausages and veggie patties. Compass Rose  Deck 4 mid-ships, 6:30 PM to 9 PM. The main dining room is on one level, beautifully decorated and furnished with ample space between tables. The menu offers appetizers, soups, salads and main courses. Early courses are excellent. There are always a set of optional dishes offered  steak, fish and vegetarian. The various items are blended into several suggested menus: vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc. White and red wines are offered and cocktails are available. Our companions one evening asked for the red wine they enjoyed from Signatures. Done. The food was uniformly excellent and always delivered hot. Some examples: Crab-cucumber Gateaux, Consumme with Profiterole (which contained a daub of pate de foie gras), Inter Cabbage and Potato Soup, Lamb Chops, Veal Chops, Boeuf Bourguinnone, It was quite pleasant not having over-burdened assistant waiters with huge trays stacked with covered plates obscuring our view. The dessert menu is offered after dinner along with a variety of ice cream. Good coffee is served promptly. There was no Lobster Night. Instead lobster appeared frequently on the menu as appetizers, soups, salads and main courses. Signatures  Deck 5 aft, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM is the traditional French restaurant of the Voyager with supervision from Le Cordon Bleu. Note that there is no extra charge for dining at Signatures and reservations are required. A note at your cabin door in the morning reminds you of your reservation. The menu changes weekly. There is a variety of offerings for each course: appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert. Each dish we sampled was delicious, served hot, when appropriate, and beautifully presented. The service was prompt and attentive, the glassware and dishes of the finest quality. Good red and white French wines are offered. The Crustacean Bisque with Avocado, Tomato and Crab Garnishes is a good example of a soup course. There were several appetizers featuring fresh seafood. Typical main courses were Grilled Salmon with Buerre Blanc; Scallops with Cream Sauce. The Crème Brulee was the best weve had. I was reminded of a traditional New York French restaurant in the upper price and quality range. Latitudes  Deck 5 aft, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM offered an Asian-fusion menu from its open kitchen. Note that there is no extra charge for dining at Latitudes and reservations are required. A note at your cabin door in the morning reminds you of your reservation. The fixed menu changes weekly. Here is the menu from one of our weeks: Beverage specialties: Welschriesling, Leo Hillinger, Rust, Austria, 2004; Small Hill, Leo Hillinger, Austria, 2004; San Miguel Premium Lager, Philippines; Tiger Lager Beer, Singapore; green and jasmine teas. Appetizer course (all): Vegetables Lumpia Sariwa with Garlic and Soy Sauce; Vietnamese Grilled Pork Balls; Chiang Mai-Sesame Shrimp Toast; Malaysian-Style Beef Satay; Thai-Lao Duck and Black Bean Crisp Rolls. After the appetizer course the lovely and courteous Mariton asked if we would like more. Indeed we would! Soup: Lemon Grass Infused Creamy Pumpkin Soup. This dish is so popular that it was included in a cooking class by the Latitudes chef, Gerry Garcia (not that Jerry Garcia). Salad: Aromatic Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Roasted Peanuts. Main Courses (all): Grilled Lobster Tail with Lime Leaves, Carrots, Apples and Curry; Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk Vietnamese Style; Garlic-Orange-Sherry Marinated Oven Baked Rack of Lamb; Served with Steamed Jasmine Rice and Sa-Ho Noodles. Dessert: Home Baked Passion Fruit Tart with Blackberry Coulis and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. We enjoyed this menu so much we went again with friends two nights later. Coffee Corner: Deck 5, port side forward, 24 hours. The Coffee Corner offers 24 hour coffee and tea service with several tables and comfortable chairs and a large screen plasma television. An automatic machine provides fresh, hot coffee, cafe latte, cappuccino and espresso, de-caf or high-test. From 6:30 AM to 11 AM fresh squeezed juices, fruit, pastries and doughnuts are available. Wine and Liquor: Given the all-inclusive nature of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, it should come as no surprise that beer, wine and liquor are provided at various times and venues. Whenever I was thinking free, my wife reminded me included. Upon embarkation we found beer in the fridge and our choice of liquor for the cruise. We chose a liter each of Beefeater and Tanqueray gins. Tonic in the fridge and lime slices from any bar. Wine is included with all evening meals. The choices vary by restaurant: French for Signatures, Italian for La Veranda, California and international for Compass Rose. Several international beers are offered in Latitudes. Wine service is attentive and frequent. Cocktails may be ordered from your dinner table. Included. At lunch, single glasses of wine may be ordered from the Pool Grill and La Veranda. Trays of Champagne and rum punch are passed at special events, see below, and cocktails may also be ordered. The Rose Bowl Tailgate Party and the caviar-German Pool Grill buffet included Heineken beer on tap. Bars: The Pool Bar (Deck 11, 9 AM to 6 PM), the Observation Lounge Bar (Deck 11, 11 AM to 5 PM and 8 PM to 1 AM), the Voyager Lounge (Deck 4, 2 PM to &), the Horizon Lounge (11 AM to 1 AM), all serve excellent cocktails with tasty hot and cold appetizers at appropriate times. Drink and wine prices run from $ 6.50 to $ 8.50, 15% tip included ($ 5.22 to $ 7.39 without tip). A caviar and vodka bar was set up outside the Voyage Lounge several nights serving a variety of caviars and vodkas. Entertainment: There were small music groups in the bars during appropriate evening hours. On this fourteen night cruise, the beautiful Constellation Theater offered: eight single acts, singers or comedians; four Broadway-style reviews with four outstanding singers and eight dancers; and a special treat  a classical pianist that gave two shows with the ships orchestra and a daytime recital. The Broadway-style reviews were fully staged with elaborate sets, special effects and very good performers  classical to pop. Casino: Small with slots and table games. Attire: Radisson suggests Country Club casual (resort-style outfits) is appropriate for daytime on board ship or ashore. Evening attire can be Country Club casual, informal or formal. Casual wear includes open neck shirts, slacks and sport outfits. For informal evenings, dresses or pantsuits, coats and ties are suggested. Formal evening-wear is gowns and cocktail dresses, tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits. The evening dress code is recommended for all public venues after 6 PM. I saw only an occasional infraction and those people really stood out. Shorts on ladies and gentlemen were commonplace around the ship and in La Veranda for breakfast and lunch. No tank tops, halter tops or bathing suits were seen except at the pool. On this fourteen night cruise, there were three formal nights, three informal nights and eight Country Club casual nights. Activities and Programs: There are a variety of activities and programs each day, with a larger selection on sea days  arts and crafts classes, destination lectures, bridge instruction, gardening lectures and an occasional cooking demonstration. Radisson produces an extensive Enrichment Program with formal lectures and less formal get-togethers. This cruise featured former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who spoke on homeland security; Dr. Alan Fisher discussing the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Mexico and California; Dr. Oded Rudawsky who spoke on the economics of mineral extraction; and Jake Jacobs, a former military and commercial pilot and photography expert. There were also a number of special events which made for a more interesting and personal cruise: Sail Away Party  On the Pool Deck we were greeted with tables of hot and cold appetizers and trays of Champagne and rum punch and the ships dance band. We were delighted to meet two of the ships young entertainers whom we kept up with through the cruise. Block Party  At 6 PM on the second night out, each corridor offered wines and Champagne and an opportunity to meet our neighbors. Crew members, stewards and entertainment staff made for a festive atmosphere. Our block party had eighteen attendees, rumored to be one of the larger. Rose Bowl Tailgate  A projection television was set up in the Voyager Lounge with large-screens elsewhere to watch the Rose Bowl game  USC fans to one side, Texas fans to the other. Snacks, hot dogs and chicken wings were served with Heineken. If youve never had hot dogs off of fine China and cold beer in crystal goblets, you should try it sometime. A betting matrix was set up, $ 20 a square. New Years Eve Countdown Under the Stars  Again on the Pool Deck Champagne, rum punch and appetizers with the dance band and guest entertainers. Hats and party favors were supplied. Meeting the Seven Seas Mariner  At 10:30 in the evening on our way to Huatulco, we rendezvoused with our sister ship, the south-bound Seven Seas Mariner. Our Captain Dag Dvergastein had us all sign a six liter bottle of fine French Champagne which we presented to the Mariner from our cat boat. In return, we received a handsome world map signed by all of the guests aboard the Mariner. After a half hour of waving, music and spotlights, the two ships performed a ballet, each slowly making a 360 degree circle around the other then continuing on into the night. A remarkable experience. Again with the Champagne. Captains Welcome Reception  In the Atrium. Captains Farewell Cocktail Party  In the Constellation Theater highlighted by musical numbers performed by the crew. We were surprised and delighted to see our cabin stewardess perform. There are NO limbo contests, horse races or belly-flop contests at the pool. Very refined. There is a childrens program, Club Mariner, but very few children on the ship  reflecting the good advice to book longer cruises outside of holidays to avoid them. Launderettes: There are launderettes on Decks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, open from 7 AM to 10 PM. Each has two front-loading washers and two dryers. No need to bring any quarters  they and the soap are included. There are also two irons and ironing boards in each. Only occasionally on sea days were the machines not available. Computers and Internet Access: There is a central computer room. Club.com on Deck 5. Open 24 hours, computer use and printing are free. The 19 personal computers were seldom totally occupied, usually after lunch on days at sea. Internet access is available for a $ 3.95 registration fee and $ 0.35 per minute or $ 25 for 100 minutes or $ 50 for 250 minutes. There was no hard-wired connection to our cabin. Wireless Internet access is available in and around Club.com for the same fees. Using your own computer can reduce your expenses if you use a client E-mail program such as Outlook or Outlook Express rather than Web mail. You need be connected only to download your E-mail and later upload your replies; reading E-mail and composing replies can be done off-line. Coffee and soft drinks are available in Club.com. Shore Excursions: There are many shore excursions available in each port, enough variety to satisfy all tastes and reasonably priced considering they are from a cruise ship. We particularly enjoyed the Fury Catamaran Sail and Snorkel from Key West (3 hours, $ 45) and Sailing Catamaran Cruise from Cabo San Lucas (2 hours, $ 45 although it went three hours). The latter featured extensive sightings of migrating humpback whales. In between we had an outing at the Gatun Lake Yacht Club in the Panama Canal. The crew set up a bar-b-que buffet with beer and soft drinks and we enjoyed a folklorico show and swimming in Gatun Lake. We can now say we swam in the Panama Canal. Personnel Uniformly excellent. The largely Filipino cabin and dining crew were friendly and outgoing and attentive to their guests needs. At the La Veranda buffet and Pool Grill you arent left alone as on mass-market cruises; at breakfast and lunch they are there to bring special orders, drinks, wine, almost anything you could wish for. Remember, tips are included in the fare although it felt right to tip our cabin stewardess the usual daily amount at the end of the cruise. The officers are efficient, friendly and Norwegian. Captain Dag seems to be everywhere on the ship and has a wonderful sense of self-effacing humor, as when he confessed over the public address system that he got the clock settings wrong between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. Cruise Director Jamie Logan and Assistant Cruise Director Dana Logan (yes, theyre married) are ubiquitous, friendly, effective and, importantly, available. The ships dancers and singers show up at most events to mingle and socialize. They are charming. We enjoyed a delightful dinner in La Veranda with dancer Kim and Singer Corinne. Debarkation Colored luggage tags are distributed the night before debarkation, bags are placed outside ones cabin before 11 PM and will be found ashore. The morning of debarkation, passengers are directed to public rooms to await the announcement of their colors. It went very smoothly. All guests were ashore by 10 AM. Other FAXed major newspapers are available in your cabin for $ 4.95 per day each. Printed news summaries from the U.S. and Britain are delivered to your cabin each morning. Library  There is an excellent library on board, with a wide assortment of good books neatly categorized. Photographers are only to be found at embarkation and special events. Very nice. Tendering went well at ports where required. Bottled water and beach towels were always available at the gangway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2006
Background Information: Crossings are my favorite cruise and I do at least two yearly, but this was my first on the Regent Navigator. I made a conscious decision to accept her without comparing to the delightful Diamond or the classy ... Read More
Background Information: Crossings are my favorite cruise and I do at least two yearly, but this was my first on the Regent Navigator. I made a conscious decision to accept her without comparing to the delightful Diamond or the classy Voyager. She is definitely a unique experience, with some outstanding aspects and some real flaws. This cruise boarded in Fort Lauderdale and ended in Monte Carlo. The first week was truly laid-back with no ports; the second was port intensive. The westbound crossing is easier with an active start, time to recover, and best of all you gain hours instead of losing them almost every night on the second leg. But the lazy first week gave us ample chance to adjust. Off to the Ship: Fort Lauderdale is an easy embarkation port, and I easily booked my own hotel and transfer. After a quick hotel shuttle pickup, I settled into the airport Wyndham (soon to be a Hilton). In spite of a few minor problems I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this comfortable hotel for a pre-or-post stop. The hotel bell captain booked a shuttle to the port for me. I thought the price quoted was too low, and it was. I was solo, and they had quoted a multi-passenger pp/rate. The driver did not try to raise the price, but I offered to split the difference. Life's too short to take a bargain at somebody else's expense. When a flight attendant came rushing out and could not fit in the crew shuttle, I quickly agreed to share with her and drop her at the airport. It was still a bargain and we were all happy. The embarkation area at FLL is huge, and pretty vacant when accommodating the small RSSC ships. All went relatively quickly and efficiently. The agent saw my cane and offered to help me up the escalator (and all the way to the ship) with my carry-on so I didn't have to make the long trek back to the elevator. Bonus points from me! First Impressions: The ship was typical RSSC, with a glass of champagne and a cheerful welcome awaiting me. I was directed to the Portofino/grill area where I enjoyed a casual lunch until the "cabins are ready" announcement was made. My first impression was a bit claustrophobic, which I quickly attributed to the low ceilings. Many recognized faces greeted me, which made me quickly feel at home. Stateroom: I was in "magic cabin" 601, a larger than usual cabin at the far front of the ship with an oversized veranda. The entry was wide and opened into a separate seating area. The walk-in closet, abundance of drawers, and bath with separate shower and tub are real cruise pleasers. I asked my stewardess to bring a cushion for the lounger on the veranda, and it shortly arrived. I travel solo on crossings, so am priced out of upper-level suites. This cabin was a real luxury! However, there is always a downside. It is also vulnerable to strong vibration, as well as both up/down and side-to-side movement in rough weather. The first night, the vibration kept me awake (and I have good sea legs). We had one rough night that really kept me rocking. However, I popped on my sea bands and fell fast asleep. In addition, the clanging is pretty loud when coming into port. Unless you are an early riser, buyer beware! Standard cabins, while smaller, are still roomy enough for two to share comfortably. On week two, the bedspreads were replaced with white duvets with red trim in the "hotel" style. The duvets are changed every couple of days, which is a lot of work for the cabin stewardesses. But personally, I liked the look. Dining: All I can say is "wow". I couldn't help but compare to her sister ships, and she was far and above the best of the lot. The current chef is a superstar! Not only an accomplished chef, but personable and approachable as well. She was often seen around the dining rooms and other areas mixing with passengers. Remember the days when women were not hired for the kitchens, she and her pastry chef proved that was mistake. Her star accomplishment: by far, the soups. I don't normally care for soup, but after trying the seafood bisque I found myself looking forward to the day's offerings. Plus she took full advantage of local markets, bringing on local sausages and fish in Barcelona, and fresh oysters in Sete. Variety and presentation were equal to the food! No complaints in this area, and I'm a tough critic. Portofino was wonderful...one tasty dish after another. Even better than Don Vito's (there I go again, comparing). More about the concept later. The pre-dinner wine tasting offered a good opportunity to try different grapes and growing areas. Room service was just so-so, often lukewarm and not particularly good. But with the fantastic lunches and dinners, who had room for breakfast? Most mornings I just slipped down the hall to the Navigator lounge and picked up fruit, juice and a muffin. Afternoon tea was also so-so. Regent should do better than using tea bags and commonplace teas. This is an area where the Diamond shone...oh, how I missed it. And after a few days, you'd think the same waiter would know that I like green tea. Downside, coffee on the ship was truly horrid. Too bitter to drink. Hey, guys, clean the pot! Thank goodness I brought my own coffee press and coffee. After dinner espresso was acceptable, but not wonderful. Service in the dining rooms was inconsistent at best. Although I sat in the same general areas and had the same waiters night after night, nobody remembered that I drink Pellegrino (in fact, I saw one waiter roll his eyes when I requested it)and espresso and port after dinner. In past cruises, these were offered automatically by the 3rd night. Wine service varied widely. Most nights one glass was poured and the wine waiter disappeared. One night the initial bottle was bad, and after a long, long delay the second was no better. (I'm sure the vibration on this ship is hard on the wines and there is no way to overcome that flaw.) A different wine was offered, but we were almost finished with the meal by the time it arrived. There was a general lack of attention to detail. Training, training, training, is needed. Shops: The two shops were small, but relatively well-stocked. Some Radisson items were being phased out, but there was an adequate selection and a wide range of prices. Something for everybody. Only tacky, tacky...art lining the halls and walls. People must buy it or it wouldn't be there...but I can't imagine why. Activities: We were certainly kept busy, even on long port days. Of course, team trivia and other games quickly became very competitive. However, a number of us avoided activities handled by the CD who managed to take the fun out of enjoyable activities. I'm on vacation...don't try to boss me around. Entertainment: This was a Theater at Sea cruise so the level of entertainment was a step above the normal crossing. I did miss a couple of shows because I didn't realize that they were late afternoon, not pre-or-post dinner. But I take full blame for taking a nap instead of reading the schedule more closely. It's just that the rocking of the ship is so relaxing. The speakers were definitely high caliber and widely attended. I enjoyed watching the reruns in the cabin (a definite advantage when satellite-related stations are lost during the crossing and you've watched all the movies). And the "Distinguished Gentlemen" were the best I've ever encountered. Not only were they available to dance and host dance lessons, they made themselves available for dinner every night and participated in other activities to encourage socialization among the single cruisers. Unfortunately, the vibration and noise is most noticeable in the theater. However, even with a full ship, seating was not a problem. The balcony offers the best sightline and acoustics. Portofino has adopted the Don Vito style of cabaret, and staff has blossomed as entertainers in the larger venue. However, what works in a checkered tablecloth group-table concept doesn't necessarily convert to a white tablecloth restaurant. Unfortunately, without the large shared-table concept something is lost. Even when "full" there are always a number of empty place settings. And a single has to hunt for table partners or end up sitting alone. Plus many people expecting a fine Italian concept restaurant find it "too loud". It would make a big difference if they offered at least a few large, shared tables. Downside: To say the least, the cruise director was the weak link. I've sailed with her before and have to admit that I was really disappointed when I saw that she was on the ship. Mimi, the Assistant CD was a charmer as usual. Overall, the small staff appeared constantly stressed out and distracted. Communications: The ship has a small, but nice computer room. They were busy wiring for WiFi during the first leg, so it will soon be in all the cabins. Even now, there is WiFi in all the lounges. Plus most return passengers have free access! Loved it! BUT...RSSC has determined that an adequate dish system for this ship is not a priority. Big mistake! While you always lose satellite for a few days on the crossing, it is usually available again before you reach Funchal. We did not have satellite stations even from Funchal to Monte Carlo. Since they simply repeated the movies the second week, we were left stranded in this area. The only news coverage was FOX, to the displeasure of many passengers. I found myself avoiding the lounges where FOX blared around the clock. Ports and Excursions: No ports the first week, but the second was busy indeed. It's nice to be able to pull into port without the hassle of tendering. Plus RSSC provided complimentary shuttles into town at each port. I only took one tour, to Rabat. There really wasn't much to it, mostly driving to and from Rabat with only two stops. Not even time for shopping (such that it would have been at the government supported store). But the outstanding Moroccan lunch at a luxury hotel made up for all the other lapses. Regent is touting "concierge" level service, but I found the tour desk to be mediocre at best. Answers to questions were perfunctory (and often wrong) and the staff had little practical information about ports. Maybe I expected too much. But don't call it "personalized" if it's not. Service: Unfortunately, this area appears to be slipping, not improving. The change from a 2-person team, to a single stewardess is not a positive move. Although my stewardess was friendly, she had to rate as the worst I've had in over 40 cruises. There was a large hand-print on the dressing area mirror when I arrived, and it was still there when I disembarked. She swept the center of the room, but the floor was definitely not clean. She didn't bring the cushions in from the verandah or even sweep it. On the morning after we went through a bad storm, the cushions were soaked, laying in sandy water, and the soggy lounge cushion was hanging off the rails. But she didn't even notice. I finally complained, and she did improve somewhat...but still lacked professionalism. The first night I heard my first name being called in the hallway. I turned thinking it was someone I knew from previous crossings, but it was my stewardess yelling down the hall. I'm not a snob, but I am not accustomed to being called by my first name. I was too surprised to correct her, and later learned that this is the new "policy". I don't think this is in keeping with the new image, and hope that feedback will cause a rethinking of this training. Let the passenger decide the most comfortable form of address. Discussion has been held on boards about the laundry carts in the hallways. I have to say, this is another service lapse. We're not talking about the neat carts we're all accustomed to. Rather, these are canvas laundry carts with dirty linens sloppily hanging over the edge. Combined with cleaning supplies hung on one side and cleaning rags sloppily hung on the other, they're an unsightly obstacle in the hallways until about 2:00 pm. Plus, the carpet sweeper was perched outside my door 24/7. On the bright side, ship personnel responded quickly to feedback. I do hope this area can be addressed...it must, if Regent is to be considered a luxury cruise. Passengers: As on most crossings, the passengers tend to be "mature" as in "retired". But the smattering of younger couples (and singles) fit right in and appeared to have a great time. The Block Party on sailaway was a huge success and helped strangers mix and become quick friends! Special Circumstances: As on all cruises, unusual circumstances arise. During the crossing a water heater burst on deck six flooding several cabins. Staff quickly stepped into action. For several days mattresses and furniture lined the hallways and huge fans were called into service to dry the rooms. It made for quite an obstacle course, but by Funchal the cabins were ready for the embarking passengers. But the real plus was the mid-Atlantic meeting of the Voyager and the Navigator. The captains met mid-way between the ships in Kodiacs and exchanged "gifts" while the Voyager's CD took an unscheduled opportunity to go water skiing. Passengers watched while toasting with champagne, and crew yelled and waved banners across the water. It was a truly special experience. Disembarkation: What can I say...quick and efficient. How long is it until my next cruise? Let me get my calendar! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2006
My only other Radisson cruise was 3 years ago on the 7 Seas Voyager also a sampler cruise from Naples to Nice. So when I heard about this one i had to try it out. It did not start too well as we received no cruise tickets as there was a ... Read More
My only other Radisson cruise was 3 years ago on the 7 Seas Voyager also a sampler cruise from Naples to Nice. So when I heard about this one i had to try it out. It did not start too well as we received no cruise tickets as there was a different way of doing things, not sure if it was because of the takeover by Regent or not. no baggage labels either which was a shame as they are really nice leather ones. TRAVEL TO EMBARKATION. I stayed outside Gatwick the night as my flight on easy jet was very early, this was the 2nd time I had done this. A great idea as you get a continental breakfast and a bus to the airport. I checked in at 0545 for the 0640 flight. I got D which meant i would be last on. We left on time and i had a snack bruchettes and a Diet Coke. After 2 hour flight landed in Ciampino airport, After I collected my luggage, I travelled light this time Ii was so overweight a week ago on the Noordam. I got the bus to Roma Termini station. From here I got a train to Civetavechia which took just over an hour. I have an F.I.P card which I get 50% off as worked for the railway before retiring from it. It only cost 2euros. Then I found a couple who were also going on the ship so we shared a cab. At the port the ship was waiting, looking very nice indeed. As we had no tickets they told us to put a label the luggage with the cabin number on. then take the hand baggage through the x ray and onto the ship. Straight onboard the ship which was a nice change from my last cruise which took over an hour to board! On board we checked in and wrere given our cruise cards. No tickets here either. As the suites were not yet ready we went into the Portofino Grill for a buffet lunch. I had a salad and an entree. I was then told that they were closing at 2.30pm so I had to purchase the dessert quickly. Then I was going on deck to wait when they say the suites are now ready. STATEROOMS. Mine was a penthouse suite on deck 11 at the top apart from the Sun deck. They sound grand, but actually they are the same size as the others the only difference being they have a butler to attend to you. Mine was 1117 midships, a lovely suite it was too. Large bathroom with a full size bath, shower, toilet and sink. A king size bed very comfortable it was, a large sofa much nicer than the one on the Noordam, a not too large tv not a plasma screen as on the Noordam. This means that if you video tape off it the pictures are not still, where they are on a plasma screen. The balcony was quite small with 2 sun lounger chairs and a table. SHIP INFO. The Regent Seven Seas Navigator to give it her full name is 33,000tons not a huge ship very high because of the deck above. she was originally supposed to be a Russian ship but was converted to a cruise ship in Mariotti shipyard in Italy in 1999. I did tour the ship a few years ago and had lunch but I seemed to have lost the video of it. DINING. The main dining room at the rear of the ship was for breakfast, lunch  and dinner. Of these I only used it for dinner, as breakfast I had in my suite and lunch was usually on an excursion or in the Portofino Grill which is a buffet. Complementary wines with dinner was a nice touch. The food in the main restaurant were very good not quite as much choice as the Noordam though. There was an alternative restaurant which there is no charge for. It is quite small though as it has seating for only 90. I made a reservation for the 2nd day on boarding so I was lucky as many were not so lucky. It's called the Portofino at 7pm there is wine tasting outside of different wines plus meats and cheese too. No sitting down so it was a bit difficult queuing it for everything. At 7.30pm I went in the Portofino. I was promised a large table but was given a table just for me which I don't really like as it's a bit quiet being on my own. The dinner here took a lot longer than the other restaurant as there was a lot of music being played which was really good. "Jerry" was so funny and took off a lot of different people and gor everyone to participate. We had an aperitif, 3 small portions of pasta, then an entree of lobster tail and beef but it was quite small. By the time we had finished it was 9.45pm. ACTIVITIES. These were very little as far as i could see, bingo was extortion at 12 dollars per game but still people paid to have a go and the prizes were small i think not like on the Noordam where there was a free cruise to be won. There was a small casino but I did not really take any notice. SERVICE. This was very good mostly in the restaurants as I never bothered in the bars. as drinks in the bars were not free. In the suites was given a bottle of champagne, plus 3 bottles of spirits, plus water, coke and beer in th mini bar. ENTERTAINMENT. I saw 3 shows on this short cruise but there was only 1 group there playing different music. They were very good but it got a bit the same by the last night. I think on longer cruises there is more choice, then. SHORE EXCURSIONS. There were about 3 in each port, not a great deal of choice. I took the walking tour of Napoleon which was all walking and very tiring. The one in Sardinia I took the Nora archeological site which was a good tour with a free drink at the end. DISEMBARKATION. This was again very quick, I did not like the 11pm the night before to put your luggage out, as other lines are after midnight. had to leave the cabin by 8am. On the Noordam could stay in cabin until called. So after paying the bill I went to a bar to wait for my colour to be called. It was only 20 mins or so. Had a bit of trouble getting a taxi to take us to the station as he wanted a big fare but eventually for 9 people to make it worth his while. SUMMERY. O have a few complaints that I wrote most in the comment form. First was they fact that we never got cruise tickets or baggage labels. I really don't think there is any point having a butler. he does not seem to want to unpack or pack for you. Things I asked him to fix he never did or give me an answer either. No balcony light, no personalized stationery. I'm sure the penthouse suites were supposed to have them. When i asked at reception they said it was only for the grand suites but then did some anyway. I registered for the bridge and galley tours. The bridge tour was at 2pm after the excursion to Nora. I rushed through my lunch to get there on time. There were a few others obviously waiting for it too. After 10 mins nobody came. I asked them what was going on, nobody knew. Some had already given up without saying anything. I actually found all English passengers very unfriendly unless you make a point of talking to them. Even when I do the conversations very quickly and I leave in silence. Anyway I decided to go to my room and call reception to find our what had happened. They did not even know there was supposed to be a bridge tour. Finally someone came and took us to the bridge. The 2nd officer was there and did a great job of telling us everything about the ship. Just a shame no pictures or video allowed. The galley tour I also got but I was the only person who turned up. It was interesting to see how everything happens, The young English only seemed to be interested in drinking and swimming in the pool. Other things were the massive vibration in the show lounge when we were going full speed. Things were a lot better on the Noordam and she is not a 6 star ship unlike NAVIGATOR who is suppose to be. I don't really think she was on this occasion. Despite the problems I will give Regent another chance but not on NAVIGATOR but will try the Voyager on the transatlantic in November. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Overall, this was an excellent cruise with superb service, friendly staff, great food, and a fabulous itinerary! Here are some more particulars on the ship/onboard activities and then ports/excursions as well: Departure was in Vancouver, ... Read More
Overall, this was an excellent cruise with superb service, friendly staff, great food, and a fabulous itinerary! Here are some more particulars on the ship/onboard activities and then ports/excursions as well: Departure was in Vancouver, a wonderful city. We flew in the night before so we didnt have a lot of time. If you book a hotel independently, I can highly recommend the O Canada House B & B. Friendly, well appointed, good breakfast and a great location. We took advantage of the hop on/off trolley to get an overview of the city and check out Granville Island. We found some great places to eat in the West End just off English Bay (Denham/Denman street). It is very casual with tons of choices. We went for greek in a place that seemed popular with locals  Olympia. It isnt much to look at, but had some good saganaki! Also down the street is a place called Cupcakes (need I say more), dont miss the coconut cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Ship: Rooms were bigger/better than your average cruise (and some big city hotels as well). My last trip was on Seven Seas Voyager, so I did notice the Mariner basic room was smaller than Voyager  but it is still comfortable with plenty of space. The shower was still the tub with a European-style shower head on a tube  a bit inconvenient if you are over about 5ft 7. Lots of closet space for all the stuff you probably will over-pack (I know I did). Food was excellent. We tried dinner everywhere and had great meals in Compass Rose, Signatures, and La Veranda. I think La Veranda was my favorite because it is a little more casual and the antipasti bar is a meal in itself. Signatures was also delicious from the truffle butter to the chocolate bon bons: presentation, service and food all excellent. Compass Rose also had great meals the two nights we ate there. It also seemed to have more of the bigger tables so you could sit with some other fellow passengers. We met all sorts of really interesting, nice people this way. Lattitudes fell short of expectations. The appetizers and dessert were well prepared, but the main dishes were overdone a bit and didnt match the quality of the other locations. We seemed to end up at the pool grill each day (even though it was a bit chilly  they have some blankets poolside:) The Cajun chicken sandwich and blue cheese burger were both good bets. Breakfast in La Veranda was also good with lots of choices. The water refills were a little slow, but that is really the only service issue we ever noticed. This itinerary had all sorts of things to do  too much in fact, it was hard to choose. Our first day was at sea and there were lectures (be sure to catch the onboard anthropologist talk about Alaska  she was great and does commentary up in the observation lounge during the trip as well), cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, art lectures (interesting with a bit of soft sell leading up to the auction), etc. Dont miss the hot chocolate up in the observation lounge! Service  Excellent! That pretty much covers it. Everyone is friendly and seems genuinely welcoming and always ready to chat. They work extremely hard and are always so gracious. Be sure to catch the staff show at the end of the trip  we found this very entertaining and was a big hit with the audience! Other entertainment was fine  some talented individuals (particularly the musicians at various venues) but the production numbers are a bit cheesy  better than your average cruise, but not quite ready for Broadway/West End. Disembarkation was a bit of a hassle. They got us off the ship first thing (all very efficient and friendly  no problem there). Then the transfer service dropped us at the airport so early that we couldnt even check luggage for an hour and a half - very frustrating and a disappointing way to end the cruise. It would have been nice to have been able to catch a later transfer or to have had the option to add on some kind of 2 hour trip around Anchorage or at least an arrangement with the airport to let us check-in early so we can arrange our own trip into town. Alaska itinerary: Every port has sooooo many good options for things to do! General Tips: Bring binoculars (its the only way to get a close up view of a lot of the wildlife you will see, and glaciers as well). A close fitting hat (baseball hats will blow away in the wind) and coat  it was very chilly near the glaciers and up on deck when the ship was moving. Bring layers  a waterproof overcoat and a fleece pullover are good bets. Also  if the naturalist or the schedule mentions that the ship is passing a point of interest  get up to the observation lounge early! It fills up quickly. You should probably also bring your coat  it is usually easier to get a good view on the upper deck. This is particularly true for the Hubbard Glacier day. Always keep that camera handy as well. Ketchikan was our first stop and perhaps my favorite. There is a town walking tour/map available in the tourist office. We spent our morning wandering through shops  Creek Street is very cute and worth a walk around (you will see 75% of these shops again, in every port). We also walked up to the totem pole center and the salmon hatchery/eagle center. They have two injured eagles that they care for  its a great chance for a close up look, but believe me you will LOTS of eagles around each port. In the afternoon we booked a floatplane out to Misty Fjords. It was absolutely stunning and the floatplane was great to ride in. They do bounce a bit from time to time, but not badly and the scenery up there is amazing. They landing is so gentle and it was fun to get out and stand on the float. There are lots of vendors in the visitor info center if you dont want to book through the cruise ship. We booked through Regent since the return time was pretty close to the time we were supposed to be onboard. (I hear the zip line excursion was great as well, no time to try it though) Tracy Arm  this is a beautiful area. If you can sign up for the ship excursion that picks you up right on the ship, do it! The catamaran is a good size and a smooth ride. They have both indoor and outdoor viewing areas with plenty of room to move around. There are also enough snacks to last about 2 days! We got closer to the glaciers than the Mariner could, even though there was lots of ice so we didnt get too close. We could see both Sawyer and South Sawyer glaciers and lots of seals out on the icebergs. We also got a good look at the bear  the captain was great about stopping to check out points of interest and wildlife. We also saw some sea lions and a whale on the way up to Juneau. The crew was great, with some fabulous live commentary! The catamaran lets you off right on the ship and you should have time for an afternoon excursion as well (as long as it is after 1:45). I didnt see a lot of Juneau  went right out for a helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier. I booked independently (although it was the same one the ship offered). The helicopter wasnt as interesting to me as the floatplane. They really cram you in, so it is hard to get a good view if you are in the middle seat. It is also a really quick ride (the basic version  other versions may have been more interesting). It was really cool (literally and figuratively) to get out on the glacier, even if only for 15 minutes. I still had time on return to head up the Mt Roberts Tramway. This is a little pricey, but there are some hiking trails and amazing scenery up there. Also another place where they have an injured eagle out for visitors to get a closer look at. Skagway was a cute town. It wont take long to explore but there are some great restored buildings and the usual bunch of shops. The White Pass train ride was pretty cool  more interesting than I thought a 3 hour train ride would be actually. We saw 2 more bears really close up and got a very distant view of one of the mountain goats. Lots of snow still early in the season which made for stunning views. Sitka is another great town to explore. I enjoyed our walk around town and the tour at the Bishops House. It feels more like a place that people live than some other stops. While there are plenty of shops, they arent all the same touristy jewelry shops you see in every other port. You definitely notice the Russian influence here. The afternoon Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest was great as well. We went in the afternoon so they brought us directly back on board the ship right on schedule. We saw lots of sea otters, sea lions and eagles. We also saw a couple of whales. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
June 27, 2006 we flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and then changed planes and arrived right on time in Anchorage. The view of the snow-capped mountains from the plane, right before we landed, was breathtaking. I got a great shot ... Read More
June 27, 2006 we flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and then changed planes and arrived right on time in Anchorage. The view of the snow-capped mountains from the plane, right before we landed, was breathtaking. I got a great shot from my seat and the man sitting next to me took my camera and got a close up of a glacier emptying in to the ocean! The day was quite warm for Alaska standards in the low 60s and very sunny. Our ride to the Anchorage Hilton was a short 10 minutes and we checked in and went up to our room...nothing like the suite on the Mariner, yet very clean and lovely views out our two large windows. Anchorage is very nice; lots of lovely flowers in hanging baskets along the streets, pretty parks, magnificent views and many shops/restaurants. We walked around for a few hours window shopping and then stopped at a restaurant/micro brewery for a bite to eat and a drink. We made our way back to the room and turned in for the night. June 28 we awoke to another sunny day and walked up to a small cafe for some breakfast of sourdough pancakes and hot chocolate for me while T had the standard eggs and bacon. It seemed like noon would not get here fast enough we were so anxious to head to the train station and start our real journey to the Mariner. We arrived at the train station right about noon. It was only a few minutes walk from our hotel and they took our luggage for us, so we enjoyed the stroll there. We went to the Regent podium and presented our train voucher. They gave us our tickets and said in about 30 minutes we would be able to check in and receive our room keys, so once we arrived at the ship we would be able to proceed to our suite. At 12:30 we went to the check in desk; presented our cruise voucher and passports. We were given our room key and our pictures were taken for security measures. We then were asked if we signed up for tours and they verified we were approved for what we had signed up for and said our tickets would be in our suite. The train ride to the ship was great & we spotted some sheep high up on a cliff, several bald eagles flying along the way and even a Mother Moose with her baby (the train stopped for all to watch the moose for a few minutes). We shared our table with a lovely couple from Canada who are frequent Regent cruisers. The weather was beautiful; sunny and high 50s so we were quite comfortable as the sun coming through the window on the train made it nice and warm to sit without our jackets on. A champagne toast and soft drinks were complimentary, plus you could order beer or wine for a small charge. We ordered a turkey bagel to share for a light lunch and then afterwards they came around with HUGE cookies for dessert! As the Mariner came in to view it was a very long-awaited moment&to see her at the dock waiting for us to embark. The majestic snow-capped mountains behind her and the sparkling dark blue water beneath her&truly a Kodak moment! The terminal in Whittier is quite sparse and not much to look at. We stood in line maybe 10 minutes waiting for our turn at the x-ray screening, we did the fun embarkation photo op and then walked up the gangplank and we were on the Mariner!!!! The ship is beautiful, in a very simple way (we much prefer this over the glitz and glitter you find on the mega ships) and our suite is gorgeous! We have lots of room to move around, the balcony is wonderful with such amazing views. Our bed is very comfortable, the bathroom is spacious with lots of storage space  only drawback is the high step in and out of the tub, but we manage it ok. I guess once we are older the shower would be our best choice, but I do like a tub to soak in. We watched the sail away from our balcony with champagne and pate to enjoy while the sights of Whittier faded in to the distance. We made our way around the ship for a quick get acquainted tour and ended up in the Observation Lounge for a drink and then back to our suite. Rao our butler is very nice and was ready to accommodate us in any way he could. The liquor and drink requests were just as we ordered. Silvia is our stewardess and she is from Austria  very friendly and a lovely person to chat with. We ordered room service dinner around 9 p.m. as we were just too tired to dress up for dinner; we shared a shrimp cocktail, we each had a cup of sweet potato soup, Hubby had the grilled salmon and I had spaghetti with meatballs. For dessert T had chocolate mousse and I had a wonderful rhubarb cake with cinnamon vanilla sauce. We were so shocked at how fast the meal arrived and Rao said he could go back and make us wait longer if we felt the service was too quick! Our meal was very delicious and we had more than enough to eat. Sleep came easily to us as the slight rocking of the ship seems to put you in a wonderful mode for a good night's rest. June 29 we woke about 7:30 a.m. to a day at sea and glacier viewing this afternoon. We had breakfast in La Verandah and the choices from the buffet were very good. Lots of fresh fruit and many juices to choose from to drink (we both had fresh squeezed OJ). After breakfast we returned to our suite to check the activities and Silvia had all ready been in to make the bed and clean the room!! We sat in on the morning tour and ports of call talk. We were going to stay for the first Terry Breen lecture, but I was a bit tired so we came back to the room as I didnt want to fall asleep during her talk and someone think I was bored! Terry will narrate the glacier cruise this afternoon and we will be all ears listening as we are on our balcony. Lunch was a grilled fish day with five types of fish to choose from: salmon, snapper, mahi mahi, rock fish and the last one slips my memory right now. We hurried to eat as we were approaching Hubbard Glacier and were anxious to get up on deck 12 to have the best view. We were able to come within 1.5 miles of the glacier which Terry Breen said was very close compared to the past cruises this year. She also said due to a bit of cloud cover and not much sun we were very lucky as this makes the blue color in the glaciers stand out more. At first there was not much activity, but the last hour it was pretty much one chunk after another calving into the ocean. The sound of it starting is like that of an approaching thunder storm or a jet plane soaring over your head. The sight of it is beyond what words can describe!!! Terry said on a scale of 1 to 10 our day of seeing activity is rated a 15!!!! She said in all her years of being here this was one of the best days (we feel so very fortunate to have witnessed such a spectacular sight). The narrative by Terry and a local Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) family who came on board was very enlightening and so educational. The family later dressed in their native attire which only further enhanced the amazing afternoon we were a part of. As we left Hubbard Glacier we went back to our suite and sat on the balcony enjoying the spectacular views and were treated to even a bit more calving before the ship left the area. Our captain gave us a treat and sailed close to the shoreline in hopes of spotting some bear, but no luck today! We wore our winter jackets out on the Observation Deck along with gloves and hats as it was VERY windy and cold! Terry Breen explained where we were sailing it was 200 feet deep under the hull of the ship, yet you could just about toss a stone to the shore we were so close! We met a couple we had found on Cruise Critic in the Observation Lounge for a before dinner cocktail. J and R are from the north east area and we really enjoyed chatting with them and hearing about their pre-cruise trip. Dinner was at 7:30 in Signatures. The food was very delicious; we both had a crab appetizer, I had mushroom soup and hubby had chicken consomme with a lovely pastry crust over the top, the sorbet was a cinnamon apple with thyme, hubby chose salmon for the main course and I had beef tournadoes. For dessert I had a wonderful Tahitian vanilla crème brulee that was to die for and T had a warm chocolate tart  plus, we were treated to the wonderful truffles! We were so full they wrapped our truffles in foil to take back to our suite. Once again sleep came quite easily and we awoke to the ship being docked just outside Sitka. June 30 we had breakfast in Compass Rose, donned our warm clothes and hopped on the tender. A quick 10 minutes ride and we were there! The temp today was 56 and it was dark and overcast all day, yet never rained! We wore jeans, warm hiking boots, long sleeve shirts along with our winter jackets and hats&we stayed quite warm and at times you didnt need to have your jacket zipped. What a lovely and quaint little town Sitka is! We hiked to the Raptor Center and were truly amazed at the work they do here rehabilitating injured eagles, owls and falcons. The eagles were truly an amazing sight to our eyes. After a wonderful guided tour we sat for the short video and then were treated to one of the handlers bringing in one of the two eagles that tour the U.S. schools so children have a chance to see how magnificent these creatures are. We walked back down to the main part of town; stopped in a few stores (some LOVELY furs can be found here) and then caught the tender back to the Mariner for lunch and a bit of resting. I took a nap in the afternoon and woke to the butler bringing our late afternoon snack. Today we had two types of wraps with a wonderful salsa. Sailing away from Sitka Terry came on and gave us a wonderful narrative about Sitka and the area as well as what to expect tomorrow morning at Tracy Arm. Just as she was about to sign off she spotted a humpback whale on the portside (our side of the ship) so out to the balcony we went with binoculars and camera in hand. The whale was quite a distance from the ship, but we did get closer to it until you could clearly see it blowing the water out of his hole and waving his tail at us many times! What a thrill and we only wished we were closer as it was hard to get pictures. At one point there were two whales taking turns waving at us with their tails and a whale was also spotted on the starboard side, so we were very fortunate today! According to Terry tomorrow morning, July 1st, at 5:30 a.m. we will be near an area where a pod of whales are normally spotted, so we have a 5 a.m. wake up call set. Then we will enter Tracy Arm about 7 and sail in there for just over 2 hours and head out around 9:30 a.m. Dinner this evening was in Latitudes and it was wonderful!!! We were warmly welcomed by the wait staff and seated at a lovely table for two near a window. The meal is served family style so you dont have to choose from the menu - you are given some of each choice. My favorite was the galangal chicken thigh and Ts was the lobster in curry. So far we have yet to make it to any evening activity after dinner  we are always ready to return to our suite for a drink and then turn in for the night looking forward to the next day. We are both just in awe of the beauty we see each and every day!!! Today is July 1 and we were up EARLY with a 5 a.m. wake-up call. After contemplating whether or not to get up we got up, dressed and were sitting in the Observation Lounge by 6 a.m. to whale watch. Shortly after arriving we did spot one whale off in the distance, but that was all we were able to see. Right around 7 a.m. Terry came on bidding us a good morning and welcoming us to the entrance of Tracy Arm. At one point the rocks went up 2,000 feet and then another 1,000 feet below the water level! To get things in to perspective we were looking at a small fishing boat off to the portside and not far from the fishing boat and our ship was an iceberg floating in the water  the iceberg appeared quite small, yet when you looked at the fishing boat you realized the berg was a good 10 feet across!! After our early morning view of Tracy Arm we attended a presentation on the 2007 cruise season by Cruise Consultant Lynn Madsen. Not many folks in attendance and those who were there were treated to a Mimosa! We found her talk quite worthwhile as we are not real familiar with Regent and she talked about each ship as well as the areas they sail to. We sailed in to Juneau right after lunch with an escort from the Coast Guard and a couple of bald eagles! It was nice to just walk off the ship and not have to tender. Not complaining about the tender ride in Sitka as it only took a short 10 minutes to get back to the ship. We didnt have anything planned and just walked up and down the street browsing in shops. We purchased some canned salmon from Taku Seafood company and then headed to the Red Dog Saloon for a drink  quite a neat experience to be in there as the place was very lively with a man playing tunes on an old piano and to look at all the junk hanging everywhere was a lot of fun. Lots of stuffed animals on the walls and you could imagine being back in the gold rush days sitting there having a drink talking about how many nuggets you found or what you caught that day or about the big one that got away from you on the daily hunting trip. The weather was quite nice; low 60s and we walked around with our jackets open and were very comfortable. Everyone tells us we are having great weather as the cruises before ours have encountered many days of rain and low clouds. After a few hours of shopping we headed back to the ship to just relax and take a nap so we are ready for the big Alaskan Pub Night tonight in Horizons Lounge! Weve been invited to a galley tour tomorrow late afternoon and we also received a dinner invitation for July 3 from Cruise Director John Barron and his lovely wife, Lynsay, the Social Hostess in Compass Rose. Late afternoon Rao brought us a raw veggie and dip tray that was quite nice as our before dinner treat. We chose to dine at Compass Rose and we both did the Tasting Menu of crab cake, chowder, black bean and papaya salad, pear sorbet and Alaskan Rock Fish (very delicious) with chocolate vanilla frozen yogurt for dessert along with the wonderful tray of homemade candies. After dinner we made our way to the Horizons Lounge for Alaskan Pub Night. They did a great job decorating and the entertainment was very good with a nice mix of songs from country to Jazz and in-between. July 2 we arrived in Skagway early morning and were up and off the ship before 8 a.m. for our White Pass and Yukon Route train ride. We chose to do the train ride with the home baked goodies option and were in a car that was not full so we had lots of room. We chose the front seat for more leg room and on the return trip down the mountain we didnt have to switch seats with anyone as right across from us was the goodie tray (you normally switch sides on the return trip so everyone on the train is able to see everything). T and I both were overwhelmed at the amount of work it must have taken to build the White Pass and reflected on how many must have given their lives in order for us to ride the rails. I was apprehensive about doing the train ride due to going up so high, but my fears were all for nothing as it was truly a splendid ride! The weather could not have been better as it was sunny and warm (77 degrees by the time we got back to the ship early afternoon). Downtown Skagway is very cute and my favorite town so far. It looks like what it must have been like in the Gold Rush days and the shops are very quaint. After walking around downtown we made our way back to the Red Onion Saloon for a beer (Alaskan Summer Ale for hubby and root beer for me). We headed back towards the ship with a stop at the Skagway Fish Company and shared some halibut and fries for lunch. At 5 p.m. we went on the Galley tour with the Executive Chef  how enlightening to see where all the work takes place to prepare the many meals that are served each and every day. We were taken inside the cooler for the vegetables, the meat and fish freezers, the area where they bake the breads, the main kitchen area and the pastry area. Any and all questions were answered and we were treated to a glass of champagne after the tour was over. I was very impressed with how clean and orderly everything is! We attended a non-denominational church service held in the conference room at 6 p.m. John Barron, the Cruise Director, lead the short 15 minute service for 5 of us in attendance. It was always a fun surprise to return to our suite and find mail on the door clip waiting for us! Terry Breen was giving a sail away commentary on the surrounding area (we missed a good part of it due to the galley tour and church service) and only caught the last few minutes. She told us how the many light houses in Alaska are no longer manned by people and many have been sold to use as a Bed & Breakfast or as a private home. The one we sailed past today was very beautiful and given to the Boy Scouts by the state to enjoy and use for educational purposes. We ordered room service for dinner. It is so nice to stay in our suite and enjoy the spectacular views while dining as you miss so much of the scenery when you go to the restaurants! I had French Onion soup, beef tenderloin medallions with green peppercorn sauce and a baked potato. T had chicken consomme, pan fried salmon and baked potato. For dessert T had the chocolate mousse and I had crème brulee. Everything was very good!!! After another great nights sleep we were surprised when our doorbell rang and here was Rao with our morning coffee, juice and pastries! I could not believe it was already past 8 a.m. and we were still asleep. I think we need to move on to the ship because this is the best we both have slept in years! After our continental breakfast we made our way up to the Observation Lounge to listen to Terry talking about our sailing in to Ketchikan. I love all her little stories she tells that she has picked up along the way over her many trips. She REALLY makes the sailing even greater (if that is possible)! July 3 we arrived in Ketchikan a little early and were given the go ahead to tender over as soon as we could as the early afternoon tours would be waiting for us. We met our tour person and waited for the rest of the folks to arrive on the next few tenders. A gal drove us the short few minutes to the dock to our flight plane and we were off! Our plane is a Beaver Dehaviland that fit 6 passengers along with our pilot, Shannon. The weather is gorgeous in the 70s; clear as can be and the sun is shining (which we were told is quite a treat because Ketchikan gets over 13 feet of rain per year)! We flew for about 20 minutes over mountain tops looking for sheep, but never did spot any and then made our way to George Inlet Lodge. Our landing on the water was smooth and we made our way off the plane to meet our guide Brett. He gave us a brief background about the lodge and the crab traps and then invited us up to the lodge to our feast of Dungeness crab!!! Linda our hostess was waiting for us in the dining room that was beautifully decorated and we sat down. We had smoked salmon appetizers and a salad of crisp lettuce and mandarin oranges with a light dressing. Then, she brought out our plates of crab!!! She gave us a brief demonstration on how to break the crab leg apart and use part of the claw to get all the meat out of the claws. She kept coming around refilling our melted butter pots and then came out with another leg for each of us! Talk about being stuffed&I gave T the last few parts of my leg as I was waiting for dessert  cheesecake with Alaskan blueberries! What a meal&so delicious and all the while Brett was telling us stories as we all asked him questions and learned more about this beautiful place we were at today. After a short stop in the gift shop we were on the plane and youd never know we were up in the air as the take off was so smooth. Our return was a fast ride of about 5 minutes and we could see the Mariner in all her glory. We hopped the van ride back to the dock and did a bit of shopping before catching the tender back to the ship. I did most of my souvenir shopping in one store right across the street from the cruise ship dock and the prices were very reasonable Upon returning to the ship Rao came to the door with our late afternoon snack. I was about to tell him he would not be able to top what we ate at the lodge and to my surprise he had a plate of crab legs for us! Along with the crab legs he presented us with a cute little chocolate mousse dessert cake for our anniversary. We were told today that most cruise ship passengers gain on average 10 pounds -- well I must have gained enough for the whole ship! Hubby is having the time of his life sitting on the balcony spotting eagles flying around Ketchikan (he loves eagles). For anyone who sails to Alaska on a cruise line that has no balcony I feel sorry for that person as they miss so much. We thoroughly enjoy our balcony at all times day and night no matter if it is cold and windy or warm and sunny. Dinner July 3 was in Compass Rose. We were invited to dinner by John Barron the Cruise Director and his beautiful wife, Lynsay, who is the Cruise Hostess. Along with them was another couple from Michigan who have just over 80 nights of cruising with Regent. The evening chat was on many various topics mostly related to cruising and how John & Lynsay got involved in their jobs and our backgrounds. It was very lovely and we truly enjoyed spending the evening with them as well as the Michigan couple. We all ordered the Roast Turkey and dressing  simply delicious! We ordered dessert and then appearing at our table was the Food & Beverage manager with an anniversary cake for T and me. He lit the candles and they sang Happy Anniversary to us. Our waiter than sang Let me call you Sweetheart to the two of us (it brought tears to my eyes). After dinner we returned to our suite as we were both so full and quite tired. We had a note from our stewardess to turn the clocks ahead one hour for the time change. July 4th we woke to a cloudy day of about 56. We went to the All American Breakfast in La Verandah and then headed back to do the dreaded deed of packing! Grrrrrrr Lunch was a wonderful BBQ on the pool deck, but a bit on the chilly side. They were grilling steaks, burgers of beef or turkey, Cajun chicken and ribs. Many side dishes of corn on the cob, baked potatoes, onion rings, many salads just to name a few things. For dessert you could make a sundae or a giant waffle cone as well as cookies and other goodies. Cruise director John sat with us and then later Lynsay joined us. We really enjoy the two of them and will miss them when the cruise is over. After lunch we watched dolphins playing and swimming along side the ship for quite some time. We started watching them on the pool deck and then decided to head up to the Observation deck to get shots out in the open. At 3 p.m. there was a wonderful production that was a tribute to the Beatles that we thoroughly enjoyed. We are not much for catching a show or anything else after dinner as we are mostly too tired, so we were happy they had an afternoon performance today. For those of us who are chocoholics you wanted to be in the Horizons Lounge at 4 p.m.! There was chocolate (white, milk and dark) of anything you can imagine. A white and milk chocolate fountain for fruit was my favorite spot for pineapple, melon and strawberries in white chocolate! It seems as if all we do is EAT EAT EAT!!!! I feel guilty eating so much, but the guilt only lasts a few minutes and then I am ready to eat again! Heading back to our suite we noticed a couple of whales blowing just off the port side, but they never did surface for me to get a picture. From our suite we enjoyed more spectacular scenery while listening to Terry Breen from the bridge for the last time. We have enjoyed listening to her and always looked forward to the next time. At 6:15 we went to the Captains Farewell party and Krew Kapers in the Constellation Theatre. What a wonderful show put on by the workers who besides doing their regular job also practice singing and dancing to entertain all of us onboard for this last day. It was truly a heart-warming time to see these folks pouring their hearts out singing and dancing and you are thinking where do they find time out of their normal long day to also do this! We will order room service for dinner and enjoy every last minute of the cruise from our suites balcony. After eating so much today we ordered light room service of a hot dog, pizza and dessert. We enjoyed our sail in to Canada. There is no snow and everything is so nice and green (it was in Alaska, too). We noticed a few whales blowing just off the port side and there were fish jumping out of the water at times. The lights from the homes on shore were so pretty once darkness arrived. If I havent said it before in this review this has been one of the highlights in our lives. We are truly blessed to be able to travel to many wonderful places, but this cruise ranks as one of, if not, the highest on our vacations. We have been treated to excellent service in every aspect, the food has been nothing less than truly delicious, the weather (thank the Lord) was excellent every day. July 5 we were still sleeping when our butler rang the doorbell with room service breakfast for the last time. I guess in a way I was hoping hed forget about us and wed just take the next cruise back up to Whittier, but no such luck! ;> We made our way to deck 6 and sat in the Stars Lounge until our color was called. Disembarking was smooth and quite easy compared to our other mass-market cruise. Finding our luggage took all of two minutes and the line for taxis was the longest time we had to wait in a line all this week. Our ride to the Hilton in Richmond (very close to the airport) took quite some time and the fare was $30. There are some very pretty homes in Vancouver and many homes have tall hedges that do block most of the view. The Hilton was kind enough to give us our room a little past 10 a.m. and I was so happy about that! We walked around the area some, but there isnt a whole lot -- car lots, two malls and many other shops (i.e. beauty salon, travel agencies, banks - nothing touristy). Since we didnt eat much for breakfast in the ship we found a local restaurant that was still serving breakfast at 11 which was very good. We walked to one of the malls just after 5 p.m. and had a bite to eat in the food court as we were not very hungry, but wanted a little something. Our last day July 6 we had an 8 a.m. wake up call and headed to the hotel restaurant for juice and pastries. We gathered our luggage and hopped on the hotel shuttle bus to the airport. It took us about a total of 30 minutes from checking in at the Delta counter to going through Customs and Immigration and the security check before heading to our gate. We did a bit of last minute shopping and our plane boarded just before 11:30 a.m. The flight was a bit bumpy at times, yet nothing very disturbing. We made great time and were in the Atlanta area about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and then had to circle for 45 minutes due to a storm right over the airport. By the time we landed and got our luggage it was 8:30 and we were on the road walking in to our house at 10 p.m. *** Regent Seven Seas Mariner holds 700 passengers and there were 540 on our sailing. You never waited in line for anything which is so nice compared to when you sail on the larger ships and you wait in long lines for certain things. Our suite was wonderful! We were in a Penthouse category B level. The suite itself is 376 sq. ft. and the balcony 73 sq. ft. We did have a butler but we did not book this category for the butler, we booked it for the suite location port side on Deck 10. Upon entering to the right was the bathroom; sink with marble counter, lots of storage space underneath, mirrors with storage space on the sides as well as Aveda products, tub/shower combination with great water pressure. Directly across from the bathroom was a walk in closet that had three racks for hanging clothes, a shoe rack, two beach towels, a wool blanket, an umbrella, two robes and two pair of slippers, a safe, two "cubby holes" for storage and underneath the safe you found 4 or 5 drawers. Our bed was queen sized and our suite had the new bedding and mattress (much different from what the brochure shows as this is the old bedding and the lower categories still had this decor). A thick white duvet with a lovely moss green and grey coverlet, we each had 3 down pillows (by request) and on each side of the bed was a small 2 drawer night stand and a reading light as well as several over head lights. Directly across from the bed was a large floor to ceiling mirror with a comfy arm chair and ottoman and to the left of that was a nice vanity area with stool, make up mirror and a larger mirror attached to the vanity. A blow dryer was in one of the drawers. The bedroom area could be totally curtained off from the living room area if you wanted it like that. In the living room we had a lovely sort of L shaped sofa with three throw pillows and a small cocktail table. Under the sofa was a larger wooden table top that was used when we would dine in the room. Next to the sofa was another arm chair with ottoman. Right across from the sofa was a large wall unit with glass shelves all across the top that held several different types of glasses i.e. high ball, water, pilsner and so forth as well as the two bottles of liquor we were given (we also had a bottle of chilled champagne in our suite upon embarkation). Below the glass shelves you found a TV, desk area with an IPod and speakers as well as a dish of fresh fruit and a vase that held fresh orchids. On one end there were drawers for clothes and the end near the balcony held the mini fridge that was stocked with four beer (if you wanted more you had to pay for the beer), the soda types we requested as well as bottled water and an ice bucket. We had floor to ceiling windows on each end and in the middle you found sliding glass doors to lead you out to the balcony. The balcony had two wooden arm chairs with nice cushions and a small wooden table. A sheer set of curtains along with a very heavy room darkening drapery covered all the windows/sliding door. The only thing on our deck was suites and the bridge. We never heard noise from the suites on either side, but at times we did hear some dragging noises from above as the pool deck was above us and you could hear them moving things, but it never woke us or bothered us. Deck Five you found Compass Rose Restaurant for casual dining off a menu for all 3 meals and no reservations. Latitudes Restaurant which was reservation only for dinner and they served family style Indochinese type food. Mariner Lounge, Tour and Cruise Sales office, Reception and Concierge as well as the lower level of the Constellation Theater. Deck Six held Horizons Lounge, Signatures Restaurant reservation only for dinner and it was the Le Cordon Bleu menu, Connoisseur Club (cigar and cognac), Card and Conference Room (which doubled as a chapel on Sunday evening for the service we attended), The Garden Promenade where they had a coffee, cappuccino, espresso, hot chocolate machine as well as fresh pastries in the morning and several varieties of cookies in the afternoon and evening. You also went to the library, computer area and DVD rental area on Deck Six. STARS nightclub/disco was here and the upper level of the Constellation Theater. Deck Seven was suites and then the casino, boutiques, Photo Shop, Beauty Salon, Carita Spa, gym and aerobics room. Decks Eight, Nine and Ten were all suites (plus you found a laundry room on each deck of these 3 floors). Deck Eleven was La Veranda Restaurant for buffet breakfast and lunch and at dinner time it was an Italian Steakhouse or whatever theme they decided for the evening, pool and 3 hot tubs, pool bar and grill. I think the pool was heated as a few days we did see some people in the pool. There were many tables/chairs as well as lounge chairs to sit on so you never had to worry about finding a seat and they had beach towels as well as warm blankets available. Deck 12 is the Observation Lounge, jogging track, golf nets, shuffleboard and paddle tennis. As I stated in my trip review the ship is not glitzy and glamorous by any means, yet very beautiful and elegant. You felt very comfortable and at home...not like you were in Las Vegas with flashing lights and bright neon colors everywhere (this is how I felt on one of the mega ships). Our stewardess, Silvia, did a marvelous job of cleaning our room and we never had to wait...we'd return from breakfast and it would be made up! In the early evening she'd come by for turn-down service and leave us our copy of PASSAGES telling us what to expect the next day as well as a mint with some type of verse or thought on each night stand. Rao our butler was very attentive, yet not the type who you felt was there and would never leave. He was very polite, yet friendly and was happy to make reservations or answer our questions. I am not sure how many other suites he serviced, but we never had to wait for him when we'd call...as soon as I'd hang up the phone from paging him he would be returning our call. Each afternoon at 5 p.m. he would ring our doorbell and have a great plate of something different each day for us to enjoy before dinner with a cocktail. I can recall somethings that we had; shrimp cocktail, wraps with salsa, cold crab legs, cheese & crackers (2 days), raw vegetables and dip, pate and cocktail rolls. As far as the rest of the staff you were always warmly greeted by anyone from the caption whom we saw many times enjoying visiting with guests to the person who was polishing the brass on the stairwell. We asked the Cruise Director and his wife the Social Hostess why they chose to invite us to dinner one evening since this was our first Regent cruise and many others on board were many time repeat guests. Their reply was they enjoyed inviting new guests because they wanted to make us feel at home and they also knew it was our anniversary (we felt quite honored and this REALLY impressed me...you won't find this type of thinking in many places...they mostly invite the many time guests vs. a first time). Service at the bars/restaurants was nothing less than the best! You never had to ask for a drink because you were approached right after being seated, refills on water or coffee was no wait, a wine sommelier (sp) was in each restaurant serving you choice wines at dinner, you were escorted to your table and your name was remembered by many staff members, the room service menu was quite extensive and if you didn't care for that you could always order from the Compass Rose menu for dinner in your room, too. You were given a breakfast room service order form each evening to fill out if you wanted to and the order was always on time and the food was hot! Each day the pastry kitchen made hand dipped truffles for after-dinner treats in Signatures and home made cookies/candies for Compass Rose and Latitudes, plus you were given the dessert menu as well to order from. As far as this cruise line and the cost goes - in my opinion you get what you pay for. Yes, you can cruise to Alaska or most any other place for that matter for much less, but you also have long lines to deal with (several days when we were not the only ship in a port you'd see HUNDREDS of people lined up waiting to get on or off the ship while all we had to do was walk off and back on with no lines which in very cold/rainy or very hot weather could be quite uncomfortable as the lines did not move very fast, more noise, so-so food choices and quality, lower quality shore excursion choices, with Regent you receive two bottles of liquor in your suite (of your choice that are top shelf brand), the mini fridge with soda/water which was replenished daily and 4 beers (starting 1/1/2007 all drinks with liquor are included), free soda 24/7, bottles of water are there when you go on shore at each port (yes with the mega ships you do pay for bottled water if you want it as well as soda) cocktails of your choice while at your dinner table, more space in your suite (yes each "room" is a suite with a balcony there are no inside rooms), no tipping (not one employee ever made us feel like they were being nice in hopes of getting a tip because you are free to tip if you want to when someone goes over and above in your opinion)!!! this is also included and so much more that I fail to recall at this time. We have done a mass market mega ship, so we do speak from experience - not just hearsay. ;) Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
My husband and I have sailed with Regent (formerly Radisson) twice before - Alaska 04, and the Panama Canal 05, both on the Mariner. The Baltic cruise in June 06 was our first one on the Voyager. I have seen lots of postings on the boards ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed with Regent (formerly Radisson) twice before - Alaska 04, and the Panama Canal 05, both on the Mariner. The Baltic cruise in June 06 was our first one on the Voyager. I have seen lots of postings on the boards asking for comparisons between the two. Quite honestly, I think they are clones! The same wonderful suites, excellent service and superb food. I think the only negative about the Voyager versus the Mariner is that there is indeed vibration aft! But we were forward and heard and felt nothing. We boarded in Dover. We live in Switzerland and travelled to London three days before, staying at the Milestone Hotel in Kensington. This is a wonderful hotel and its standards mesh well with those of RSSC. We hired a car on the Sunday and drove to Kent where we visited some lovely gardens and stayed in a terrific B&B (The Olde Moat House). I dropped my husband and the suitcases at the Cruise Terminal in Dover and returned the car to Hertz (not such great service, at least at the Dover end. There is no shuttle to the Cruise Terminal and the woman was most unhelpful! Fortunately, I know Dover and was able to walk to the station and get a taxi there!!) Our luggage was taken from us and we were ushered to a large waiting area, with comfortable seats. After about a 15 minute wait - they were dealing with passengers in small groups - we went through security and boarded the Voyager. Check in was in the Constellation Theatre, and the customary glass of sparkling wine (note: NOT champagne!) was nice. We were told that our suite would be ready about 3pm. We had a light snack at the Pool Grill while we were waiting (having had an excellent breakfast at the B&B we didn't need more, but lunch was available in La Veranda). At 2.30pm we were told the suite was ready and went there. Two of our suitcases were already there and the others arrived within a few minutes. Our suite was lovely - a bit smaller than the Penthouse on the Mariner, but with a bigger bathroom (shower and bath) and huge closet. Enough hangers for even me!! One could almost have used it as a dressing room. We ate in the Compass Rose on the first night and were delighted to find that the choice was every bit as good as on the Mariner. Our first port was Amsterdam. We docked at Ijmuiden which is around 40 minutes by bus and fast ferry from the Central Station in Amsterdam. I had planned to take the bus and ferry into town. We have been there often and all we really wanted to do was have Rijstafel for lunch(!). However to my delight there was a shuttle bus service organised for us, free of charge. It took about 45 minutes to get into town and we were dropped at a convenient point, near the canal boat-bus stop. After lunch we went back to get the bus, but there was a delay and we ended up having to wait while the driver finished his lunch break. Some people were upset by this but I figured that the shuttle was an unexpected bonus so I just sat down to wait in the sunshine! That night was our first formal night. There seemed to have been a bit of a hiccup with this -- on the web site the next day was listed as formal. I had made reservations at Signatures for this night, and so we were a bit disappointed not to eat there on the formal night. There was the traditional captain's reception where we met the Captain for the first and only time during the cruise. I must say I found this strange. On both the Alaskan and Panama cruises the captains were very much in evidence, walking around the ship, greeting guests etc. We felt that our captain in Panama really cared about his passengers. However the Norwegian captain on the Voyager seemed a recluse and we scarcely saw him. He did appear at the Seven Seas cocktail, but not at the final crew show. The next day was a sea day and we had our first lectures. Four members of the BBC Antiques Roadshow were on board and they were just superb. The first lecture especially - from Paul Atterbury about Scandinavian design - was a blockbuster! A real tour de force!! We also had Sandra Bowen from the BBC on board and she lectured on many topics to do with Scandinavia - art, music, history etc. She is wonderful and I am thrilled to see that she will be on our November cruise from Rome to Ft Lauderdale. We spent a day in Rostock and took a sightseeing tour of that city. Most passengers headed off for tours to Berlin - which is a fair distance away. We started our tour with a boat ride down the river to Rostock from the port of Warnemunde. This was great fun. Our guide, Peter, was excellent and approaching Rostock from the river was beautiful. It is an old Hanseatic city, which was almost totally flattened in the war, and is now re-built in the old style. Our walking tour was super. We learned a lot about the city, and even visited the former Stasi (German secret police) headquarters. We then went back to the ship by bus and collapsed! Our next port was supposed to have been Visby in Sweden. However there was a very strong wind blowing and the captain could not get the anchor to hold. He tried four times, with no luck. The Voyager is too big to get into the small port, so he had no choice but to cancel the stop. From what we could see from a distance the town looked very pretty and I am sorry we missed it! The following morning we docked in Tallin, Estonia. From the water this small city is exquisitely beautiful - and walking around the old town was a delight. Unfortunately our guide wasn't great, and she seemed to leave us on our own too much rather than explain what we were seeing. (Too much shopping!!) After about an hour we left the group and walked around on our own. There were at least four cruise ships in town that day, and our guide was a student who, I think, had been pressed into service because there were so many tourists. She was very informative about Estonia, and its history so it was too bad that she didn't quite understand her role in showing us the old town. The absolute highlight of the entire trip was St Petersburg. Until the last minute the officers and tour staff (headed by Larry Slater, who had been on the Mariner with us in Panama and who is a wonderful Tour Director - or "Travel concierge" as they are now called!) thought we would dock in the port. Instead we were able to go right up the Neva and we docked at the first bridge with the wonderful buildings of St Petersburg all around us. Much better than the rusty old port! We had hired a private guide and car for St Petersburg, and this change of mooring confused our guide who went to the port! However she appeared and off we went. Just a word about Russia - if you can, get a visa. I know it is a hassle, and it costs a lot, but it is so wonderful to be able to get on and off the ship at will, with the same ease as walking out of the front door of a hotel! People without visas had to be on RSSC organised tours. We had our visas and in the evening could just go for a stroll along the river, watching the locals - mostly walking their dogs! It gave us a real freedom that I would have missed a lot. We drove around the town a bit - it was Sunday morning so the museums wouldn't be open till 11 - and saw the Peter and Paul fortress, Peter the Great's log cabin (quite a place! Very small and primitive) and the battleship Aurora. Then just after 11 we went to the Hermitage. Galina, our guide, took us around the Impressionist rooms and then we went to the gold room where we had an appointment with the Director. (Galina was not only a fabulous guide, but she has amazing connections! We never queued to get into anything and frequently saw things that were closed to the public). In this case the gold rooms were closed for lunch, and the Director took us around. It was a privilege to see them without anyone else there. In all we spent about 3 hours in the Hermitage before going to The Old Customs Hosue restaurant for a very late lunch. After lunch we visited St Isaac's Cathedral, then the Church on Spilled Blood, and ended up around 6pm at the main market. I was impressed with the quality of the fruits and veg. on sale there, though Galina said the meat wasn't much good. On Monday Galina took us to Peterhof to visit the gardens (and admire the wonderful fountains) and then on to Orangienbaum to visit Catherine's Chinese Palace. This was closed for the day, and the director met us and gave us a personal tour. This palace should be on everyone's list. It is small, and wonderful. The parquet floors with inlays representing flowers and fruits etc have to be seen to be believed. And unlike many of the other palaces it was not too damaged in the war. In fact the Director told us that Catherine's bedroom - which we saw - had not really been touched since her death! We drove back into town and had another late lunch this time at the Grand Hotel, before going to the Youssopov Palace. There again we arrived as it was closing, and spent two hours with Galina visiting all the rooms and learning heaps about Russian history. On Tuesday morning we went to Catherine's palace at Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo). We had coffee with the associate director and then she left us to see the palace with Galina. No one else was there except the cleaning staff! Normally the amber room has two lines of people, each going in opposite directions. We saw it alone. Amazing. We were really sorry to say goodbye to Galina! I think we'll have to go back there in the winter to see the many things we missed!! The Voyager sailed from St Petersburg for Stockholm at around 4pm. While it was nice to see the open sea, it was sad to leave such a wonderful city behind. It takes about 24 hours to get from St Petersburg to Stockholm, and since it more or less was a sea day there were lots more lectures to attend. However the highlight of the day had to be sailing into Stockholm, through the archipelago, seeing the tiny islands and lovely houses and all the water traffic. We docked in Stockholm near the Sijla Ferry line dock (the one that goes to Helsinki) and again RSSC organised a shuttle bus to town. We were still tired from our adventures in St. P, so we spent a quiet evening on board, having dinner at Latitudes. I have to say a word about this restaurant. On the Mariner in Alaska we ate there and thought it was very so-so. Consequently we didn't bother to try it on the Panama cruise. However I had read that they have re-focused the menu, and so we ate there not once, but twice! it is now a seriously good "Indo-chinese" restaurant...we loved it! We didn't take any tours in Stockholm because we've been there lots before, so we really appreciated the shuttle bus which, unlike the Amsterdam one, didn't stop for lunch! We got into town early and spent a lot of time walking in the Gamla Stan (old town) which at that hour was people-free! We then went shopping at NK the main department store, and almost got caught in a shoot-out! As we left NK for the Opera to get the bus back to the ship we heard gun shots. We found out later that some masked, armed men had robbed the jewelry department and as they made a get-away, were pushed to the ground by the onlookers and arrested by the police. Happily all we heard of this were the sirens but several people from the ship saw the whole event. This is a really unusual happening for quiet Stockholm. Our last formal night was the night we sailed from Stockholm. The crew put on a terrific show and dinner was superb - prime rib of beef, I seem to remember. The elusive captain was nowhere to be seen! In the end his non-appearance started to bug me, and since we are sailing on the Voyager on November 4 I made enquiries as to whether he would still be on board. The crew members I spoke to thought not. So I hope we get a more convivial captain on that cruise! One crew member who will be on board is Bryan, the Cruise Director. He is simply wonderful, and we appreciated his work very much. Many people in his job are quite corny, but he wasn't. He is a charming person and we are looking forward to seeing him again. With all the sightseeing we did, we didn't go to all the shows. However the Peter Terhune group have new productions and their opera evening is absolutely top notch! On the last day, before we docked in Copenhagen at 4pm, the Antiques Roadshow gang hosted an "Antiques Boatshow" where people could bring things they had with them, or photos of antiques, or items they had bought on the cruise. It was amazing informative and great fun!! Finally we arrived in Copenhagen. We docked at Lange Linie, about a 5 minute walk from the little mermaid. We didn't go into town that night, preferring to enjoy the Voyager for a last evening. Then on the Saturday the sad time came to say good bye. Because we were staying in Copenhagen and were thus not pressed for time we were one of the last to disembark. That suited us fine!! We spent the weekend in Copehagen. It was one of the hottest weekends of the year - around 30C and without a cloud. We stayed at the Radisson SAS Royal across from Tivoli. This is a good hotel, but in the room we had first the AC just couldn't keep up with the heat! We went to Tivoli for the evening but on our return to the room it was like a furnace. The staff moved us to another room with much better AC and we were very comfortable. The hotel has a good breakfast buffet, which was included in our room rate. All in all we liked it for its location - Tivoli and the Central station - its very pleasant staff, and Arne Jacobsen's design. However it is not what I would call luxurious! Comfortable, yes. We flew back to Switzerland on the Monday - and now we are counting the days until we board the Voyager again! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
According to the staff on the Mariner we had exceptionally good weather on this 7 day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver (departure July 26). We had sunshine on every day in port except one (Ketchikan). Apparently, no one saw the sun for an ... Read More
According to the staff on the Mariner we had exceptionally good weather on this 7 day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver (departure July 26). We had sunshine on every day in port except one (Ketchikan). Apparently, no one saw the sun for an entire week on this ship on the cruise immediately before ours, so perhaps this explains why everyone was so cheerful on our ship! This is our second cruise on Regent; our first was a short trip (4 days) in the Caribbean 18 months ago on the Diamond which is no longer part of the fleet. We were impressed the first time and our second trip on Regent did not disappoint. Overall, the experience on Regent was exceptional and this was exactly what we were expecting. I do not intend to go into detail on every item, but as other reviews explain, the standard on Regent and the Mariner is very high so you can assume that any areas which dont get a mention are mostly very good or excellent relative to other cruise lines (weve sailed on NCL, Princess, and Carnival). Ill start by mentioning a couple of disappointments. Overall the entertainment was pretty poor. The variety shows were downright horrible. The best entertainer on the ship was the cruise director who did a cabaret style show twice during the week - we wished he had taken the stage every night. We tend to amuse ourselves in the evening  particularly in the casino  so this was not an issue for us. There is a well equipped fitness center on this ship, but on days at sea you needed to wait for equipment to become available. Second, we unfortunately missed our shore excursion in Ketchikan due to the fact that the ship had to tender passengers to shore at this port- apparently dock slots are rotated every week between the different cruise lines and this was the Mariner's week for tendering. Our tender had to wait around 20 minutes for another ship to leave port and this caused us to just miss our trip. We were offered another trip later in the day, but we had made other plans and could not change. We received a refund on the trip, but we were still very disappointed. This was a frustrating situation as we were allowed to board a tender only after the first two had left. If we could have boarded an earlier tender we would have made the trip. We had hoped to avoid tendering completely on this trip, but at least on a small ship like the Mariner, there is limited waiting. We did complain to the customer service manager on the ship about our missed excursion. She was sympathetic and answered all of our questions, but I still believe that our bad experience could have been avoided. A final negative comment  I hope that Regent eliminates charges for internet access (currently $0.35/min). This seems particularly mean on a "premium" ship that intends to go all inclusive in 2007 On the positive side, the embarkation procedure is about the best it can be  we were able to check-in at our hotel in Anchorage  luggage was automatically transferred to the ship  so we virtually strolled directly onto the ship and into our cabins when our train arrived in Whittier. Food is exceptional on the Mariner. The food and service was excellent in the main dining room and Latitudes restaurant (reservation required). We also liked the Veranda for breakfast. The Signature dining room (reservation required) was outstanding both in food and service. Overall, I think the food on the Mariner is certainly the best we have experienced on a cruise line by a long way and our meals and service at Signature compared well with first class restaurants on land. The wines, which are complementary with meals, were also very nice, although we felt that the red selection was frequently not quite up to the standard of the food  which was exceptional! Overall, while we expected excellent service on this ship, we were still surprised by how good it actually was, particularly since tipping is not expected. I dont know what Regent is doing to motivate the staff, but they were amazing. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
We left West Palm Beach for Anchorage, with a change of planes in Atlanta. The flight (Delta Airlines) was very nice, and uneventful. The food was surprisingly good. We arrived in Anchorage at 9:00 pm, so a short night prevented us from ... Read More
We left West Palm Beach for Anchorage, with a change of planes in Atlanta. The flight (Delta Airlines) was very nice, and uneventful. The food was surprisingly good. We arrived in Anchorage at 9:00 pm, so a short night prevented us from enjoying any local cuisine or sightseeing. The Anchorage Hilton and morning breakfast buffet was adequate. When arriving in Whittier at the dock, we were quickly processed by Regent and arrived in our suite in record time. We had booked a penthouse suite category A (with a butler) and found the extra money well-spent. The cabin was quite spacious with a great walk-in closet and lovely bathroom that certainly met all of our needs. Our butler, Rao, introduced himself and, after unpacking, I sent some items out to be pressed. (This service is free on the first day onlyafter that you are charged per piece.) My husband and I took time to explore the ship and upon returning to the cabin, we were pleased to find canapEs and champagne waiting for us. We went to dinner in Compass Rosea disappointment. The salad was drenched in dressing and completely overwhelmed the greens and the salmon was dry and tasteless (in Alaskaunacceptable). Even the dessertvanilla ice cream with thyme tasted much as the name suggests. The service, however, was very accommodating. So much so, in fact, that when asked if you were enjoying your meal, you could not bear to disappoint by uttering even one negative comment. We only ate in Compass Rose one other evening, (with some coaxing from Rao to give them another chance) and the food was even worse. We did eat at both Signatures and Latitudes with somewhat better results. Signatures was good, but did not live up to LeCordeon Blue standards. Latitudes was by far my favorite, but I really cant give it raves. We much preferred LaVeranda for evening mealsespecially when the weather allowed dining on the rear outside deck. All-in-all, I would say that the food on this ship can be compared to event meals. Not any better or worse than you would get at a wedding or charity function. They do not live up to the hype. Now for the good news. The ship is wonderful and never gives the impression of being in a crowd. Even at the Captains receptions, when the entire group assembles, the crew manages to make the experience personal and the Stars night club is graciously accommodating. We most enjoyed the Observation Deck and used it as our second living room. It is pitifully underused and you would do yourself a favor to make full use of this area if you take the Alaska cruise. The scenery is spectacular and even better than viewing it from your balcony. There is frequent commentary from the ships naturalist and refreshments for most of the day and evening. We are not much for gambling, and only visited the Casino once, which seemed adequate. The library and computer rooms were certainly up to our needs and you can always find a cup of cappuccino or hot chocolate nearby. We did not take advantage of the frequent art auctionscould not tear ourselves away from the Observation Deck. As for the butler, we were not impressed. Aside from evening canapEs (which were bland) we really did not see him much. He was not rude, just distant. We were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, (which we had registered at booking) and did not receive so much as a congratulations from him. The ship kindly posted it on their daily activities schedule on the TV. I have been on other cruises and had friendlier service from the room steward. Twice we returned to our cabin to find that it had not been cleaned yet, although we had left early and requested that it be serviced. It was only a minor inconvenience. With or without a butler, we both felt that the cabin was well worth the extra cost. Now ladies (and gentlemen), some information about appropriate clothes. We found the cruise to be even more casual than we were led to believe by the brochures. My husband and I were often the most dressed up couple at dinner and around the ship on our at sea days. (even though most of the time I was in slacks). While I feel jeans and running suits are entirely appropriate for port tours and running around the ship, we like to change for dinner. It seems that few people understand that difference between casual and informal attire. You should be guided according to your own dress code. We only attended three of the shows, but all were decent. The best one was a review given by the staffit received a standing ovation by both the passengers and the Captain of the ship. Who, by the way, is quite personable and very accommodating as were all of the officers. A word about shore excursions. We were heavily booked at most ports and had made our arrangements online well ahead of our departure date. When we arrived in our stateroom, confirmations were waiting for us. We were notified that there was a discrepancy on one of our three Juneau tours and we were advised to cancel two of the excursions. As it turned out, we saw that they were wrong and the timing was fine for all three trips. (The young lady in the tours office on the ship was new and her level of expertise left much to be desired.) The ship would not okay the three bookings that I had requested. Luckily, I took charge of the problem and called ahead to Juneau (Captain Larrys Whale Watching Tour, to be exact). The same two excursions were re-booked through the Juneau office and we did not have a problem from that point on. All of these shore excursions (with the exception of the Tracy Arm Cruise) could technically be booked directly through the tour operators in each port city, but the ship does not charge much more and you are assured that they will wait for you if a problem arises. The call is yours. Many passengers opted out of the Tracey Arm cruise for the Misty Fjords cruise and were disappointed. We were told later that, the weather is often blustery and many passengers become ill on the floatplane portion of the tour and never recover sufficiently to enjoy the boating portion. This happened to our fellow passengers, and two were so ill that they were taken off of the tender in a wheelchair. We had no such problem on the Tracey Arm cruise and it was spectacular! Disembarking the ship was orderly and well-planned. We opted for a private car to the airport and, although we had to wait for sometime, we arrived well ahead of the passengers who chose the alternate bus transportation and the extra cost was not excessive. In summary, we loved the Seven Seas Mariner and thoroughly enjoyed the natural beauty of Alaska. Although we did not love the food (it paled in comparison to other cruises we have taken), it is not a high priority for us and we would definitely sail with Regent in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Having cruised only the mainline cruise lines before Holland and Princess, we looked forward with great anticipation to joining our friends, Phyllis and Phil, who had only cruised the higher end lines: Crystal, Silverseas, and Seabourn. ... Read More
Having cruised only the mainline cruise lines before Holland and Princess, we looked forward with great anticipation to joining our friends, Phyllis and Phil, who had only cruised the higher end lines: Crystal, Silverseas, and Seabourn. Phyl and Phil traveled separately to Copenhagen (they used frequent flyer miles on American, and had a tortuous route from Los Angeles to Boston to Zurich to Copenhagen). My wife Peggy and I took advantage of a half-price business class sale on Air France, and overnight to Paris and had an easy transfer at CDG, thanks to directions from Cruise Critic member/posters Globaliser and Flyertalker--my sincere thanks! We took the train from Copenhagen Airport to the city center for less than $5.00, and it was a short and reasonably priced cab ride to the Marriott, which we loved. Our friends had the canal view and we had the city view, with sights of Tivoli all lit up at dark (which is not til after 10pm in the late summer!) The hotel is convenient (only two blocks to Tivoli and a bit further to other city sights and restaurants. The breakfast buffet was excellent, but quite expensive (about $50 for two). We spent three days pre-cruise in Denmark, and it was delightful! We tried the hop-on hop-off bus, which got us to several sights, but the recorded highlights were pretty basic. Be sure to bring guide books; we used Lonely Planet and Rick Steves. The concierge directed us to two very nice restaurants. The first, Cafe Nytorv was simple, but good food. Service at the outdoor cafe took quite a while as they only had one waitperson bringing the food from the restaurant across the street. The other restaurant recommended by the concierge, Gammel Strand was simply magnificent. Amazing food, wonderful wine and excellent service. Morning of the cruise we had time for the Hans Christian Andersen tour. It was entertaining, informative and I highly recommend it. We cabbed from the Marriott to the pier, quick and easy. Check in was a breeze. As the rooms were not ready at 2:00, we went up to La Veranda for a late lunch. Plenty of food, but I would say nothing more than the usual buffet fare, which caused us to avoid it til the last evening of the cruise, when we were pleasantly surprised--more on that later. Afterwards, we headed to our suite. It certainly exceeded our expectations. The room was quite large, well appointed, with a nice large walk-in closet and a large marble bath. We met our room stewardess, Prisilla, who was charming and efficient. We took advantage of the time before sailing to do a couple of loads of laundry, then up to Compass Rose for dinner. No waiting for a table for four. The food was good, but I couldn't really say that it was outstanding. Two ongoing sour notes. One of our traveling companions prefers the sweeter white wines. He asked for a Reisling and was told there was none on the ship, but that they would see if they could get it at the next port. This turned out to be a running joke, as we asked every night, and the Reisling was never available. The same thing occurred with a request for strawberry ice cream: None available, ever. Our issues with Compass Rose continued at breakfast. The service was extremely slow, even when the dining room was 3/4 empty. Sausages were so over cooked they were like rocks, hash brown potatoes were cold, and the eggs benedict was covered with some horribly congealed mess that bore no relationship to Hollandaise sauce. Sadly, each successive breakfast was the same or worse. Hardly what I would call a six star line's best effort. Our first port was Visby on the Swedish island of Gotlund. We had to tender in, and the gentleman in the wheel chair proved quite a challenge for the crew, as the tender was bobbing pretty wildly. I was sure he was going to get dropped, but made it without mishap. We opted to explore Visby on our own. It's a charming medieval city, easily explored, although the hillside was fairly steep and the cobblestones uneven. We poked in a few shops, visited a lovely cathedral, strolled the town and returned to the ship. Dinner in Compass Rose was pretty good, but I found the desserts very unimaginative. I have never seen jello on the menu of any cruise ship in the main dining room! We went to the show that evening while our friends did some business emails in the computer center, which is quite large and well equipped. The show was the Broadway musical revue, fairly well done, and we enjoyed it. A few words about ship amenities. Appointments at the spa took a little while the first day, as they were entering them manually in a ledger, not on a computer. The spa is small, the gym also small, but clean. Not nearly as elaborate, for example, as the Lotus spa on the grand class Princess ships. Each day there was a cultural lecture, mostly centered on either art, ballet or history of Russia. I went to one; it was informative--hard to keep track of all those Russian Tsars! The fore lounge usually had music, a few (and I mean few) appetizers. The aft lounge we visited once before dinner and were the only folks there to hear the combo. I don't know if the change in liquor policy coming Jan. 1 will bring more folks to the lounges, but the week of our trip (July 29-Aug 5) they were pretty quite. Not much else going on on-board. The ship stores had greatly overpriced clothing, jewelry, and russian folk art. The camera store was almost never opened, so we were unable to download any digital pictures to disks. Our second port was Tallin, Estonia. It was a delightful town! Our friends' travel agent is connected with Virtuoso tours, and they included a guided tour of the town. The port is a commercial shipping port that is a couple of miles from town, so we boarded a bus which dropped us off outside the walls at the top of the old city. Our tour guide was pleasant and informative. The walking tour took us to a beautiful Orthodox cathedral, down a cobbled lane to a music hall where several musicians in local traditional dress performed on kannels, which are ancient Estonian instruments resembling zithers. They were quite entertaining. Afterward, we strolled the streets, saw several lanes containing the work of local artisans, then on to restaurant "Gloria" which was hosted by the tour. The food was good. We hurried off to do a little shopping (I still have no idea whether the amber necklace I bought my wife is authentic amber--they say if you heat it, the odor will be woodsy if genuine, or like plastic if it is fake!). We met up with the tour guide and reboarded the bus. We did a short tour which passed by several government buildings, then private homes, and on to a medieval convent that was destroyed by one of the invading countries that passed through Estonia over the ages. We returned to the ship and wrote a few post cards before our 7:00 p.m. reservation for L'Attitudes. I had contacted the maitre d earlier, as the written confirmation left in our cabin (I pre-booked on line) seemed to indicate we were a party of eight, when I was trying to tell them that we were a party of four, but didn't mind being seated with others. The staff were most grateful that we were willing to be flexible, as the other dining requests for that evening seemed to have taxed their seating arrangements. If you go to L'Attitudes, they request you be prompt, as the food is timed to come out on schedule. Although you receive a menu, there are no choices, and no substitutions. The food is served family style, as in most Chinese restaurants, although I would describe the food as more fusion with an asian flair, rather than Asian. I found the food in L'Attitudes quite good. Only the appetizers (egg rolls, skewered beef, etc) seemed a little pedestrian. We were seated with a delightful young couple from Philadelphia, Ruthie and Ben, and quite enjoyed the meal and the conversation. Our long anticipated arrival in St. Petersburg was the next morning. We had, on the recommendation of many Cruise Critic posters, engaged a private tour from Alla for the four of us. Although Alla was booked, she engaged a young woman who often contracted with her. We had the services of our guide, Julia, and a driver for the full three days in St. Petersburg. Each was invaluable. Julia was well educated, knowledgeable, able to accommodate requests for unscheduled stops for meals, shopping, an impromptu subway ride, and still got us to all the sites we had pre-arranged. She took care of all our entrance fees (and with one exception was able to get us past the lines waiting to get in) as well as photo stickers for camera use. Our driver Valery got us in and out of many traffic jams in the city, which is just not able to accommodate the influx of private cars since Peristroika. We kidded him about his race car driving, but he knew what he was doing. On the third day, he even brought his video camera to show us his son's swim meet, where he had won a medal! On the first day, Julia took us to Peter and Paul fortress and Cathedral, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Church of Our Saviour (also known as Church on the Spilled Blood) before lunch at a nice little restaurant frequented by locals, Mischa and the Bear (named after a Russian folk tale) and helped us order. As we got to know her, and she us, she became accustomed to our senses of humor, and we got along famously the whole trip. After lunch, we went to Peterhof and toured the extensive grounds and fountains at Peter the Great's summer palace. Not to be missed. Both Alla and Julia recommended seeing only the grounds. Entrance to the palace was extra, and many rooms were under renovation. We returned to the ship with tired feet! On our way up the gang plank, we saw large groups leaving for evening excursions to the ballet and elsewhere, so I suggested we see if there were any openings at Signatures for that night. Indeed there were if we could be there promptly at 7:00 p.m. We rushed to clean and change. Signatures, the Cordon Bleu restaurant, has a menu which has no substitutions. Upon arrival, we advised the head waiter that we had reserved souffles for that evening at Compass Rose, and asked if it was possible to have them served up at Signatures. The head waiter checked and said that was not possible, but that he would notify Compass Rose that we would arrive for souffles, coffee and after dinner drinks after we completed our meal up at Signatures. We were impressed. Although Peggy's filet mignon was little tough, everyone one else at our table raved over the food and the wine (the red for the evening was Mouton Cadet, quite a cut above the complimentary reds being served in the main restaurant). Entertainment that night was a troupe of Russian Folk dancers the ship had brought aboard. They were excellent! Afterward Phyl and Phil went to the computer center and we repaired to the lounge for a little music and conversation before bedtime. Day two in St. Petersburg started with a short visit to St. Nicholas Church, which unlike several of those previously visited was still in use as a church, the others serving primarily as museums to religious art and architecture. We also visited a small pedestrian bridge near a small park in a residential neighborhood, and stopped to take Julia's picture in front of the university she previously attended, and where she now teaches English! Then on to the Hermitage, which was glorious. Once again Julia was able to get us past the long lines for entrance. We visited a few rooms before our allotted time to visit "the gold room" Julia gave someone a dressing down when it appeared the guide appointed for the group to which we were to be attached was at a different location than she had been advised! For those who don't know, most of the contents of the gold room were household decorative items (snuff boxes, hair brushes, etc., and the Sythian archeological collections). Crown jewels are in Moscow, and most, if not all of the Faberge eggs were sold to Malcolm Forbes! There is so much fantastic art to see in the Hermitage, that I would not spend my time or money on the gold room unless you are there for an extended number of days. We had lunch in the museum snack bar, and then toured the wings devoted to the art collection. Quite impressive, as was the building itself. Later, we visited the Yusopof palace, home to a wealthy Russian family, and site of the murder of Rasputin. Back to the ship for a second evening at Signatures (the one we had pre-booked). The menu was the same for the entire week (as is the case at L'Attitudes). Some of us had the same main course, others changed. We were seated with a doctor and his wife who were from Alabama. Lively conversation and excellent food and wine! Our last day in St. Petersburg! We were a little late getting off the ship. I think Julia was a little worried! (By the way, because of the relatively small size of the ship, we had an excellent docking area in town along the canal, not at the larger and more remote commercial shipping area). We traveled out of town for the trip to Pushkin, home of the famous poet, and site of Catherine's Palace. En route we saw several examples of Soviet style architecture: blocks of grey multi-story flats. Rather depressing. In St. Petersburg we saw a few areas with apartments dating from pre-revolutionary times, but saw no private detached homes. There were a few of these in Pushkin. The Palace is quite ornate with much gilded carvings. We stopped at a very nice restaurant on the way back and sampled a local berry during, as well as some local vodka! We had a canal boat cruise scheduled, but it was drizzling, so we opted instead to do a little shopping for souvenirs after a side trip to take a ride on the subway, just one stop. The architecture and cleanly state of the station impressed us. Sadly, we bade farewell to our guide and driver, and boarded the ship. We went up to the forward lounge for cocktails and to see sailaway, but our departure was delayed, so we decide to go eat. The menu in Compass Rose didn't look that appealing, so we decided to try La Veranda. It was Mediterranean night, so in addition to the buffet for appetizers and desert, the main courses were delivered to your table, and we found the meal and the service superior to Compass Rose. Go figure. We had a day at sea, at last a few hours to relax. I had a massage, started packing, then had lunch at the outdoor poolside grill. In addition to a plethora of salads, they had burgers, and were also barbecuing cuts from a huge tuna caught from the ship that morning! Still no strawberry ice cream, however, and the milk shakes and smoothies seemed to be lacking something: ice cream! Guess this just gets lost in the translation. our last port was Stockholm, but we only had time to take the shuttle to town and stroll for a couple of hours. We wanted to see the Vasa museum, but it was closed by the time we were able to disembark that evening, and we flew back to Paris the next morning. Disembarkation was rather odd: when they called our color, we walked down the gangway, found our luggage on the tarmac and waited for the driver our TA engaged for our trip to the airport. No customs or immigration of any kind! Although I was somewhat underwhelmed by the quality of the food in the primary dining room, we had a wonderful trip. I didn't find the food any better than that on Princess, and below that served on Holland America. The larger room, absence of tipping, and complimentary liquor in room and at dinner did not, to me, justify the price, which was double that of a comparable trip on either of those lines, and that was with a 2 for 1 fare the week we sailed on Regent. Our companions were also less than impressed, saying they much preferred their trips on Crystal. I guess what I am saying is that for the extra expense, and reputed reputation as a six star line, the lack of attention to detail, follow up, and meal quality were all below my expectations. I realize these are subjective areas, but of the three lines on which I have traveled to date, my preference right now would be Holland America. I like HAL's classic cruise line decor (found the public area decor on Voyager a quite cold example of Euro modern that was sort of late fifties barren), and the service staff on Holland also just a little bit friendlier and more accommodating. This was a very port intensive itinerary, so the little time spent on board Voyager did not detract from my vacation. It just didn't do that much to enhance it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2006
Last week we cruised on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner Vancouver to Whittier. This was a last minute trip for us  choosing a ship and booking less then a week from sailing date. Check in at Vancouver was basically painless. Ok, so they ... Read More
Last week we cruised on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner Vancouver to Whittier. This was a last minute trip for us  choosing a ship and booking less then a week from sailing date. Check in at Vancouver was basically painless. Ok, so they printed my name wrong on my security/door lock card - I was to be Davis for the trip, not David. I pointed out the error, was told I would get a new card - what I didn't understand is that I had to go and request it. So I was Davis for the trip-no big deal. Our Suite was a penthouse A category on deck 11  which includes butler service, a category and location we would have chosen even if we had booked a year out. There are plenty of reviews on the physical attributes of the ship  Ill simply add that our room was very well furnished, very nice size, closet space excellent, Balcony (well used by us) and glass sliding doors were fantastic. The person who had the final say over bathroom design should have had their head examined  with such a large space to work with finding a small-single sink-shower in tub (if youre over 6ft you might consider a stateroom with stall shower and no tub because youll hit your head). But thats what this ship has; small bathrooms - and it wouldnt stop us from sailing again on the Mariner. Our room stewardess and butler were excellent. Shore excursions were fantastic. Everything from the bear/salmon viewing on a remote river marsh  after wading in from a float plane  to a private charter on a small craft in Sitka (just the two of us with a guide and captain) where we viewed up close eagles, deer, brown bear (10ft in front of us feeding on salmon), sea otters and a pod of whales that was nothing short of magical. This was my 6th Alaskan Cruise  and the beauty increases every time I see it. Where the ship fell flat and inconsistent was in staff training and food presentation/service. This is a top end ship (cruise line), with guests paying top dollar. First the good news. Dinner at La Veranda in the evenings was excellent  both nights we tried it. Going a little later then the crowds we had wonderful tables, excellent service and very well prepared choices. Latitudes the signature French restaurant was also quite good. Service attentive if a bit slow  but whos in a rush. Presentation was very nice. Signatures  the Asian themed specialty restaurant, which requires a pre-booking. Great looking dinner service ware. After that visual, a big zero. Food took forever, tasted flat, and was borderline cold. You better nurse your glass of water for a long time, as getting it refilled seems to be a chore for an abundance of staff looking around for something to do. I want to believe that our table (6 as we sat with strangers) was the exception to the rule  served last in the room  with very little attention to the table during very long waits. I am sure that people have had good experiences here; ours just wasnt one of them. Room Service: Always-nice day or night. Sometimes the orders get a bit confused, however the effort is there to make things right. Lunch: Deck grill Good Deck buffet: Terrible Cold pizza thrown into large round holding dishes Mac and cheese  the saddest presentation Ive ever seen outside of my grade school cafeteria. Veranda buffet: Carnival would not be proud of this. Highlighted by a few staff that clearly dont want to be on this ship. Main Dining room: Lunch  our one meal trying this venue for lunch was nothing short of horrible. Stir fried turkey slopped on a plate and served room temperature. In attentive service with a who cares attitude. Dinner  two times. Ordinary with poor service, highlighted the second time we tried it with the following first impression. Headwaiter outside looking at table map: May we please have a table for 2 near a window? Headwaiter: Would you like to share a table? We would prefer a table for two tonight Looks at the map  tells the waiter  Table 72 We walked into an almost EMPTY dining room and taken to the first table by the entry door, in the center section of the dining area next to a busing station. I looked around again; the dining room was sill almost empty (and we were midway through the evening). I went back to the Headwaiter and told him as politely as I could possible say it  that this type of response would be a good reason to choose another cruise line and I walked off. I confess I said it loud enough that one of the heads of the dining room heard it  offered his assistance  seated us at a table for 2 near a window (and there was another table for 2 just behind us which would have been just as fine). An ordinary meal followed. Dining room remained half empty and I couldnt help noticing when we left that our first table  was still empty This was the 3rd time in two days where a member of the staff  heard a rather simple request and completely ignored it. Nothing improves if one remains silent. I did meet the guest relations officer about our experiences  the wonderful, the good, and the inconsistent. She did take notes and told me while she tries several times during a cruise to dine in the dining rooms  on this cruise she was too busy. Her interest was seemed to tell me that hell be off the ship soon. I also filled out the survey. Bottom line  I might sail with Regent Seven Seas again  but it would be a big depends. Back in Los Angeles, the lady I was traveling with was at her beauty salon and talking about the trip. The well-traveled lady sitting next to her said she just sailed with Seven Seas Mariner two weeks earlier, they were a party of eight in large suites. The one comment that stands out was she never knew what to expect. That pretty well sums up our experience on the Regent Seven Seas Marnier. One final item. Ive been fortunate to have started cruising when I was quite young  in the days of the Fairwind, Michelangelo, and Sagafiord. Ive traveled Windjammer to Queens Grill and just about everything in between. Now in my mid 50s  my most recent sailing this year prior to Regent was on Silversea this past May for 2 weeks (Hong Kong  Tokyo) as well as Crystal within the past 12 months. Regent doesn't hold a candle to SevenSeas in the service department IMO. This is my first major posting on this forum  and its unfortunately a buyer beware. Read Less
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