Background and Hotel information
This cruise was rather a short one for us. We received an email from a travel agent with a fantastic sampler package flight to Auckland, transfers from airport and to port, a two-night stay at the Sofitel, then embarking the Regent Seven Seas Voyager on day three.
In our opinion this package was relatively good value and an opportunity to experience a 5 plus star luxury ship and a 5-star hotel in one package.
We stayed overnight at Sydney airport (Travelodge) as I have previously mentioned in other reviews I repeat it is currently reasonably good value, recently built, clean, close to two parking stations, and close to Mascot Railway Station.
We flew with Qantas to Auckland, one of our preferred airlines currently, seamless flight as per usual. We were picked up by a private vehicle as part of the package and transferred to the Sofitel, on a very hot day in Auckland; we were quite shocked how hot it was for the time of year. The hotel is located close to the canals and a 10-minute walk to the port. Really stylish hotel with the little extras that we found just embellishes the experience. Large rooms with quality inclusions throughout. We ate breakfast in the hotel cafe the next morning at a reasonable cost and the food was of good quality. Auckland appears now as a vibrant city with a waterfront now occupied by trendy somewhat quirky bars, cafes, and restaurants. Round the world sailing race competitors were in town and the waterfront was a buzz the first night and next day. We took the ferry over to Devonport a beautiful old suburb full of stately homes and a quaint village atmosphere. Worth the ferry trip, yes indeed.
On day 3 we were taken to the ship by a coach along with about 10 other people who were also staying at the hotel.
After arrival at the port our bags were taken to the ship from the coach and we were ushered into the terminal, filled out our forms, and took the escalator upstairs. We were seated with the other 150 people who were embarking for the Auckland to Sydney cruise and waited about 20 minutes prior to being asked to provide the usual details required to embark the ship. We were also provided each with a bottle of water whilst waiting, a nice touch we thought.
On entering the vessel after clocking on with the card we were welcomed with a glass of bubbly, the ship is fully inclusive (yes premium alcohol is included) and a few smiling faces, including us! First impressions were extremely good, we were invited to look around the ship and have lunch in "La Veranda", bistro by day, Italian restaurant by night. Excellent variety of good quality food, hot and cold meats and seafood, also it includes a delicious gelato bar, with a large number of creamy treats.
First night we had booked Prime 7, the speciality steak restaurant, we shared a table with two ladies from Australia. My wife and I both ordered and consumed melt in your mouth fillet mignon, delicious, I also had a small lobster (surf and turf) that was also very tasty. More information on eating venues and food later.
We booked a Concierge room, and were delighted when we entered the room, it was huge, on the left HS upon entry existed a very large bathroom with a huge shower with a glass door, a bath, and gigantic marble vanity with L'Occitane bathroom products, my wife felt quite pampered. Next door on the left had side is a large walk in wardrobe where the large safe is also located and a large number of coat hangers.
It also contained super soft bathrobes, an umbrella and a tote bag for us. Next was a separate bedroom with a nice firm bed, and firm pillows for great neck support while sleeping. The refrigerator was stacked with water, tonic water, soda water, lemonade and beer, no extra cost. On the large dressing table sat an Illy coffee making machine with coffee capsules, nice touch! The balcony was reasonably large with two comfortable chairs, and a medium sized table. Best room we have ever stayed in on any ship and even in top hotels, it rates near the top. In a word sumptuous!
The RSS Voyager is a beautiful ship of approximately 45,000 tons, it has several restaurants, including two speciality ones, at no extra cost, however, book well in advance; with a concierge room, we were able to book months in advance. There were several public areas, a large lounge and balcony area at the rear of the ship, a reasonable sized theatre, and several other bars on various levels, pure luxury on this ship. The ship shows little sign of wear, it is in very good condition, and relatively easy to move around. It also has a cafe that serves reasonably good quality coffee and teas, an area where fresh food is available at all hours, and there are a large number of tables and chairs to be seated.
The activities were similar to most ships, with one exception. There were speakers from the United States, from a group known as Artful Travelers. The first speaker was the primary writer of the comedy series “Frasier”, he spoke of writing and launching the show for television, he showed humorous clips from the show. He described how the show was developed, interaction with the actors, and that Frasier actually sang the song at the introduction to the show. The writer was visibly moved when he discussed how the actor who played Frasier’s Dad had passed away recently, apparently the cast and crew on the whole became very close during the filming of the show over the years. There were clips of some very funny episodes over the years, the audience and us enjoyed the presentation immensely.
We were also fortunate to be present when another person from show biz in the USA, also a writer and producer of documentaries, described in detail the life of Bob Hope. How he had interviewed Mr Hope’s daughter and many others in relation to his life, on and off the screen, how he gathered clips of his TV shows, his movies with Bing Crosby, and described his private life in some detail. He also showed clips of Bob Hope and other artists, led by Hope entertaining the US troops in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. We watched a large part of the documentary on TV in our room a day later, excellent production.
Bob Hope left some of his fortune to build Bob Hope centres for US troops, ex-service women and men at various major airports in the USA for them to relax, have a shower, and supply them with refreshments, these centres are still funded currently for them.
Excellent service on this ship, as you would expect, the staff are allegedly the best available, and we were very happy with the service overall. Room stewards, female and male, kept the room very clean, were super-efficient, and nothing was too much trouble. We ordered a bottle of wine and spirits, we left the room for a few hours and returned to find same in our glass front cabinet, excellent.
Bistro and restaurant staff were courteous and efficient, although at times in La Veranda seating was very hard to find. We ate outside at tables in the grill area, the temperature outside was mild and pleasant. One slight constructive criticism, one of the staff brought me a beer that was quite warm, excuse being the refrigerator was not working properly. I asked for a container with ice in it and placed the beer in it, 15 minutes later, all ok. Thanks to the young Russian lady all was saved, I did mention to her that they should place some beer in a large container with ice and that would suffice if cooling beer was a problem. She came back 20 minutes later and brought a cold beer out of the container full of beer she had arranged, I thanked her and said very well done, she will go far that young lady! The very next day we went out past the bar in the grill area and in sight of all on the bar sat a large container full of ice and various beers in the ice, very impressed. I am not a big beer drinker, my wife and I prefer a nice wine with our meals, and a good gin and tonic or two before dinner.
Port & shore excursions
Most shore excursions are included with Regent. We were only on the ship for 4 nights, the only excursion available was in Bay of Islands, we had previously been on this tour to the treaty grounds, however decided to go again, it was quite ok.
Travel to embarkation port
See background information above for remarks.
As indicated above we had a concierge balcony cabin midship on deck 8. Cabin overall was in very good condition, bed was very comfortable, pillows firm for great neck support, large cabinets with glass doors, fully stocked bar, coffee maker, fruit. French champagne on arrival, was a nice touch indeed.
Bathroom was huge, big bath, huge shower marble twin vanity unit, L’Occitane products. Huge walk in wardrobe, safe, sofa and large table with marble top in bedroom, medium sized balcony with quality chairs and medium size table. Huge elegant room with the “works”!
We ate breakfast in La Veranda every day, it was convenient and all the food was quality, eggs made order, and various hot and cold delicacies, juices, coffee and tea. We ate Lunch in La Veranda on day one, as mentioned previously the food quality and variety was very good. At night La Veranda become an Italian restaurant, service was good, food was of good quality and good variety of Italian specials, seafood, pasta, and veal dishes. We ate the veal scaloppini for main meal, there was too much salt in the sauce, which spoilt an otherwise good meal. Appetiser and dessert was very nice.
We ate in Compass Rose for lunch on two days, delicious food, particularly the best quiche we have aver eaten on any ship, or any restaurant for that matter. We ate dinner in this restaurant on the third night, jumbo shrimp was superb, fillet mignon was also superb, however, lobster was not, it had been cut into pieces, was cold and unappetising. The surf and turf at Prime 7 on night one was far above in quality than the meals at LA Veranda Italian and Compass Rose restaurant dinner meals. The last night we ate at Chartreuse French restaurant, the food and décor lived up to expectations, an excellent dining experience, finished off with a delicious cheese plate and port!
We consumed food from the grill on deck at sail away from Auckland, and Bay of Islands, hot and cold barbeque meats and snacks, very tasty with a nice red wine in hand. We also ate a burger and chips for a late lunch on the last day, as we were late into Sydney, we had very rough seas and arrived at 4.30 pm instead of 1.30 pm, we didn’t complain it allowed us to spend more time on board.
First night the Cruise Director sang a few songs and another female vocalist sang, it was fairly average. The guest entertainer was supposed to sing on night 3, however she was seas sick and could not appear. She also did not appear on our last night, she was very unwell.
We were late into port, unfortunately we docked at White Bay cruise terminal, white elephant is more like it, passenger unfriendly area. Lucky we were late and Regent hired coaches to take us into Darling Harbour, we caught train from Wynyard station, changed at Central to go to Mascot to pick up our car and then home. Being docked at White Bay is a major hassle, it is unsuitable for boarding and disembarking ships, it is near no transport, buses or trains, just expensive taxis, however there only one or two taxis when we disembarked.
Fantastic experience, we most certainly would like to cruise with Regent Seven Seas again, all-inclusive means not worrying about onboard costs unless you want absolute top shelf wine and spirits, or private shore excursions, it is the whole package. Apart from a few items such as a few food items not up to standard, and disembarking at an unsuitable location, we loved the ship, the food, beautiful room, food, and great service. We will be looking for some special package deals again on a Regent Seven Seas vessel, magic experience. Read Less