I am writing this review because of the many I have read relating negative experiences on the Explorer since its launching mid 2016. My wife and I have been cruising several times per year for over 15 years on both Regent ships and ships ... Read More
I am writing this review because of the many I have read relating negative experiences on the Explorer since its launching mid 2016. My wife and I have been cruising several times per year for over 15 years on both Regent ships and ships of other cruise lines, some claiming to be as luxurious as RSS. We have just sailed the Miami-Barcelona segment on the Explorer from March 26 to April 09, not continuing to Venice because our purpose was strictly to enjoy the most luxurious ship in the industry without the excursion filled portion going from Barcelona to Venice, stopping at ports that we have visited several times before on both Regent and non-Regent ships.
To begin with, most of the criticisms that prompted this commentary in our view are very personal and in some cases perhaps unnecessarily emphasized, especially from people who seem to prefer emphasizing the negative as opposed to embellishing the positive.
Since the ship offered passengers two surveys to express their opinions, we did so, trying to be as objective and neutral as possible, as well as making suggestions for what we consider would be improvements to complete (if not perfect) the concept of luxury.
The ship is indeed very luxurious, and we found every single member of the crew (from top to bottom) very friendly, efficient or trying to be efficient, and always prepared and willing. We did express in the surveys, however, that it seemed to us the people responsible for the design and construction of the ship forgot to include in their concept of luxury both comfort and quality (or either disregarded or ignored them), which we consider intrinsic to the meaning of luxury, especially for those able and willing to pay what Regent charges for their all inclusive cruises (this also applies to all cruise lines claiming top of the line luxury ships, such as Crystal, Seabourn, etc., and even Oceania and Azamara, not to forget the sections set apart in much larger ships, such as Cunard with their Queen and Princess levels, etc. etc.).
But before we go into the negatives, let us refer to the positives. (1) We properly closed the balcony doors to successfully prevent any noise from the wind filtering through. (2) The bathroom was larger than expected, especially the shower, and very beautifully finished, with all the expected amenities. (3) The cabin attendants were at all times available to satisfy our whims (we had none) and every day expertly (and timely) cleaned the cabin. (4) Staff and crew were always attentively smiling and disposed to fulfill anyone’s desires and needs, always willing to rectify whatever might be required of them. (5) The food was very well presented and the menus were sufficiently diversified in all the restaurants, except for breakfast in our view. We think a little more variety of cheese and salami offerings would have been proper in the most luxurious ship. Papayas and mangoes were plentiful but insufficiently ripened and thus both hard (papayas) and sour (mangoes), contrary to the cantaloupes, melons, oranges and bananas which were all always exceptionally tasty and ripe. The variety of breads was insufficient when compared to most other ships we have cruised. (6) Theater shows as expected, very good, especially the violinists. We would have liked to see a classical piano and/or classical harp presentation, even if only one in 14 days, if only because these were offered in previous Regent cruises we have taken. In previous cruises we have also experienced classical quartets of different types throughout the ship, unfortunately missing in the Explorer. Finally, access to the internet was smooth and simple, even when bad weather intermittently made it inoperative. At all times, the internet manager was attentive and ready to resolve issues and problems. And among the restaurants, we most enjoyed and frequented the Pacific Rim, although this should not be interpreted as a negative for the other restaurants.
On the negative side, the example we used in the surveys was our own cabin. We reserved cabin 881 (changed to 880 at the request of Regent to accommodate a couple who was traveling to Venice and did not want to be forced to change cabins in Barcelona) because we have traveled on the very back end of other ships very comfortably and thought the most luxurious ship would significantly beat those past experiences. We were wrong (our neighbors in 881 agreed with us). The cabin is unnecessarily small, with the bedroom enclosed by unnecessarily protruding walls making passage to the seating room area unnecessarily narrow and potentially dangerous if the ship is tumbling along due to a restless ocean (which was the case for almost most the entire 14 day trip). In fact, the bedroom makes one feel enclosed in a shoebox.
In addition, the big television screen is fixed to the wall right in front of the bed, forcing the viewer to lay on the bed too see anything and everything coming through (unless, of course, the connection is broken, as happened several times). Equally bothersome was the fact that of 14 music channels, with several inactive, none included classical and semi-classical or light classical music, including operas and overtures, big band, oldies (FSinatra, Como, Crosby, NKCole, et.). The single classical music channel refers to the live channel facing the front of the ship playing the same (or what seem to us the same) repetitive music we “enjoyed” in our past cruises on the other three ships.
Perhaps for some, or many, these two examples are exaggerated and personal, thus not important, but to people like my wife and I, who like to spend time in the cabin, the layout is critical (again, our neighbors and others in G1 and G2 cabins agree with us). But what we want to exemplify is that our negative experience and view of the G1 and G2 cabins is incompatible with the claim of most luxurious ship in the industry and both could and should have been avoided.
There are many other comments we could add here, but none are to us significant enough to call attention to them, in some cases because some may be considered specific to our personal biases and values. Overall, we were satisfied with the ship, the service, the food and everything else one expects of a claim of luxury. We have highlighted those items we consider stand out either on the positive side or on the negative side in relation to the claim of luxury and our experience with Regent and other luxury cruises. Should we cruise on the Explorer again, it will not be on any G1 or G2 cabin. And in this respect, since Regent has announced the construction of an identical twin to Explorer, we are compelled to insist the G cabins be enlarged with a structurally different design (or physiognomy).
One final observation. In the surveys, we did recommend Regent seriously explore the possibility of providing the necessary means for a passenger to quietly enjoy watching and listening television without disturbing the sleeping companion, either by providing speakers attached to the TV via a long cable, or by providing Bluetooth technology, charging extra for willing guests and/or on a complimentary basis for frequent passengers, with the quality of the speakers varying according to the status of the user and the amount charged. Read Less