The ship is absolutely beautiful - both public spaces and cabins. Like a very luxurious hotel. By appearances, you could easily forget that you were on a cruise ship - more like being at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, and our Explorer ... Read More
The ship is absolutely beautiful - both public spaces and cabins. Like a very luxurious hotel. By appearances, you could easily forget that you were on a cruise ship - more like being at a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, and our Explorer Suite category cabin was extremely comfortable. But that was the problem. It was all about appearances. That may be enough for some, and you would not be disappointed in terms of high end comfort. The library, lounges, restaurants were all very attractive.
But then the service. Didn't even come close to matching the surroundings. I actually found some staff downright hostile. They seemed so unhappy so much of the time. Our butler was nowhere to be found the afternoon of embarkation and for the rest of the cruise it was like pulling teeth to get anything out of him. At one point he threw away newspapers I had set aside on our sofa (needed them for work) and he took it upon himself to throw them out when he brought in the newer newspapers then tried to blame it on the room steward who swore up and down that he never throws anything away if it's not in the garbage can, which I believe because when I did have things right next to the garbage can to throw out (they didn't fit in the can) he did not take them. The room steward seemed pleasant enough, but overworked and doing his work somewhat begrudgingly. They seemed really "cheap" about things. For example, a spare roll of toilet paper is usually kept in the bathrooms. They would never replenish this - even after we had to call for more tp and you could clearly see there were only a few sheets left on the existing roll. You would think once that happened they would be better about restocking. The last night, we needed to take tp out of one bathroom for another. Toiletries were never replenished, even when soap was down to a sliver. Service was quick and perfunctory. We had to ask multiple times for them to put the cushions back out on the deck chairs. I understand taking them in at night in inclement weather, but even when we were in port overnight with very pleasant weather, they would not put anything out and often we had to do ourselves. Not a big deal, but you would think at these prices they could make sure details like that were attended to.
Also, with all it's beauty, the ship itself still seemed kind of odd. We are used to the creakiness when a ship is at sea. But this one made all kinds of weird noises at all different hours - especially at night. We did not get one decent night's sleep over the 12 days we were on board.
Dining was okay, but varied widely from one venue to another. Anywhere from bad to pretty good. Never really good. Prime 7 and Pacific Rim were very disappointing. We get better steaks at our local diner, and the Asian food left us not feeling great and very thirsty all night long. Chartreuse was the only specialty restaurant we enjoyed and would return to. Compass Rose was decent with good service. The Pool Grill lunches were okay if you stuck to the salads, but the hot foods were pretty awful. Husband said it was the worst hamburger he ever had, and I could barely eat two bites of the chicken wings I ordered. Pizza was dull and flavorless. In Veranda, lunch was okay. Dinner (when it became an Italian restaurant) varied. Breakfast was not good at all if you wanted anything beyond eggs. On the plus side, we did not go hungry, but compared to other cruise ships we have been on, the pickings were slim and with very limited hours and availability. Servers for the large part seemed unhappy. Most did their jobs, but that's it - just did their jobs. Once in a while you would get someone with a smile and that was such an exciting moment due to the rarity.
The ports and itinerary for this particular cruise were, for the large part, very good. That's why we picked this cruise (Lisbon, Porto, A Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux, L'Orient, St. Malo, Guernsey, Southampton). We did Lisbon on our own, but I heard from other passengers who did pre-cruise through Regent that there was a bit of a cattle car feel. We then felt that throughout the cruise with any excursions booked through Regent. They may be free (as part of "all inclusive"), but be warned. You get what you pay for. Generally speaking the Excursions staff was clueless. Not only were they uniformly not very nice, they knew little to nothing about the ports. On other cruise lines, we have gotten much more detailed port information, including maps, the night before and there is usually someone you can speak with on the ship who has some familiarity with the ports. With this we had to wait for a local representative to come on board the ship the "day of" before we could see any map or get any local iniformation. The excursions themselves were pretty mediocre. Every day we saw or heard stories of people getting left behind or "lost." You are sent out in groups way too big to get much out of anything. The tours were not all that informative and very poorly timed. There was a lot of wasted time, and when you were given any free time it was usually not in the center of things. Huge variations among guides depending on the luck of the draw with which bus you ended up on. Some people complained that they couldn't even understand their guides. In one port, even the guide was wondering who had arranged such a tour. We were left with nothing to do except have tea for an hour and a half in the middle of nowhere - at the expense of seeing the island. As compared to other cruise lines we have been on (Crystal, for example) or when doing independent touring, Regent appears to be scraping pretty close to bottom of the barrel in terms of what tour companies they are using. And you never once saw a Regent rep accompanying any of the tours to see how things were going, nor was there any effort to get feedback from passengers. Clearly they take a "hands over one's ears, hear no evil, see no evil" approach to things.
Another big shortcoming was the quality of WiFi. No excuse in this day and age, especially on such a new ship, for it to be so erratic and unreliable. We have been on much older ships in the middle of nowhere with much better service. They have clearly skimped in this area and have no interest in serving their customers except for collecting the money for usage. Fortunately, the wifi plan was included with our stateroom, otherwise I would have been furious for spending so much and getting what we got.
Can't really comment on the entertainment. Especially with living in NY, we go to see theater, music and other entertainment quite often, so don't really look for it on a cruise ship. Although on many cruises we have been on, they have had some fun and different offerings that we don't get to here in the city. Not on this cruise. Nothing was really to our taste and the little bit we did see and hear, was not particularly impressive. The one thing I will give them high marks for was the Enrichment lecturer - an instructor from NY. She was the only person we heard from throughout the entire cruise who had any insight about anything. She was smart and well spoken, and we enjoyed her lectures.
Overall, it's tough that we were left feeling the way we did. Great ship, great cabin, great itinerary, but the service end of things made us feel really badly and makes us doubt we would try Regent again. Maybe they were very good once, but it seems that since NCL acquired them things have gone downhill. The ship may be fancier, but it's still Norwegian Cruise Lines - not one of our favorites. A cruise is about so much more than just your room and surroundings. And maybe it is just how this particular ship is managed, but there definitely appears to be a morale problem among employees. Even higher level officers. On just about every other cruise we have been (several of them over multiple brands), the officers are much more visible and there is more opportunity to interact with them. Here, there was no effort whatsoever. To us it seemed very obvious that they just want your money, they will make you comfortable enough, but then want you to leave them alone. I have felt much better treated on much less expensive cruise ships. In my opinion, you would be better off paying for the best cabin you can on a less luxurious ship but then getting much better service and being made to feel more special. When we have stayed in higher level suites on other ships, we have received true VIP service. Nothing of the sort here. Other than free newspapers and free wifi (that barely worked), there was nothing here that made us feel special. As I mentioned earlier, there was even a sort of hostility here. Heck. On our last morning I couldn't even get a cup of tea. We had ordered room service and they brought me a decaf tea bag. When the steward came to try to service our room 20 minutes before we were supposed to be out of it, I mentioned the tea bag to him and asked if he could get me a non decaf regular tea bag. He snatched it out of my hand and never came back.
So would I recommend this line to others? Likely not. Or I would lay it out as is and leave it up to you to decide if it's worth it. I think with so many lines building so many new ships now, there are much better options. Even as one who loves luxury hotels, I would be willing to go just a little less luxurious on a ship for better service.The surroundings are just not worth the premium charged here and for the lack of quality in other areas. Read Less