Although I had sworn I would not sail Regent again after a terrible experience a few years back on Mariner (Istanbul-Istanbul), I was tempted by the new ship, positive comments by other cruisers and a convenient itinerary in the Med. A ... Read More
Although I had sworn I would not sail Regent again after a terrible experience a few years back on Mariner (Istanbul-Istanbul), I was tempted by the new ship, positive comments by other cruisers and a convenient itinerary in the Med. A good price didn't hurt either!
By way of background, we are regular cruisers on Seabourn (Gold) and Hapag-Lloyd Europa Gold), as well as 3 Crystal cruises (Silver (including their Yacht) and 1 Oceania Marina cruise. We are Silver on Regent.
We were blown away by the pre-cruise transfers and hotel. Everything went super smoothly - plenty of staff available, private water taxi to Hotel Danieli in Venice, private water taxi to ship the next day. Air (inc. a deviation in Barcelona where we stayed longer) also very seamlessly handled.
The Explorer is a beautiful ship, well laid out and with plenty of space. Although the ship was full, it never felt that way. We loved our PH (1408) - great location - and we got an excellent butler (Vinit). That is not always a given, believe me.
I thought the hallway entry way space was not efficiently utilized though - a place to hang coats would be nice.
Service was wonderful: consistently personable, always with a smile, attentive. They had plenty of staff, so we never waited in any of our dining venues, even when Compass Rose was full, especially after Captain's events, shows, etc. Never a problem.
Dining: We were only able to secure 1 extra reservation (in Prime 7) in addition to the 3 allowed. Food was a disappointment for us. Nothing drastically wrong, just uninspired. Dishes sounded wonderful on paper, but really didn't deliver on the plate. Pacific Rim, which we really were looking forward to, was pretty watered down Asian cuisine. There were a few stand-out dishes (Miso black cod for one) but the sides were generally bad: The fried vegetable rice and the stir fried noodles (both recommended by our server) were gummy and inedible.
We liked Chartreuse, Prime 7 was also fine. Compass Rose did better with standard items than adventurous ones, so if you're a steak/lobster/shrimp/repeat kind of person, I think you would be happy.
Big negative for us: The wine. The first time in all my cruises, and I do mean all, that I was unsuccessful in obtaining a list (even hand written) of what complimentary wines they had. I asked our butler, our servers, every sommelier, including the head sommelier. What is important to me, as a trained Court of Masters Sommelier, is which winery the wine comes from. The 'somms' and servers I think are trained to stick to their story and not offer additional information. If you find out on your own, then you can have them if you ask. (I saw an Oyster Bay SB and an Ancient Vines Zin, for example, on another table.)
Even a mid cruise comment card, detailing my woes, brought no response. I do understand that for 90% (maybe more) of the passengers, those 2 offerings per night were just fine.
We're not cocktail drinkers, although we tried a couple here and there. It seems the cocktails are more the focus than wine. Explorer has many lovely bar venues with a wide range of cocktails and high quality liquor available.
Shore excursions were about what you would expect from included offerings: Buses, sometimes several going to the same spot, with about 30 people per bus. Tour guides were not very good, and I was reminded of why we book independent arrangements :-). We did pay for 1 tour (to Syracuse) and it was certainly not any better than the 'free' tours.
Disembarkation went as smoothly as embarkation.
To sum it up, while I overall still prefer SB and Hapag Lloyd and Crystal, I would cruise with Regent again on Explorer (and possibly new ship Ovation) if the itinerary and price were right. Wouldn't do over 14 days though - food and wine not good enough to stay longer. Read Less