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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We decided to book this cruise rather late in the game as Regent kept sweetening the deal with OBC and business air. The itinerary was 21 days and took us from Dubai to Barcelona, including ports in Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, ... Read More
We decided to book this cruise rather late in the game as Regent kept sweetening the deal with OBC and business air. The itinerary was 21 days and took us from Dubai to Barcelona, including ports in Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy. I imagine that the unpredictability of the Middle East scared off many passengers but by the time we sailed, we had 680 hardy passengers on board. This was our 5th Regent cruise and, honestly, the best one to date. I frequently read negative CC reviews of Regent and I sometimes wonder if we are really sailing the same cruise line. I guess if you expect bowing and scraping and perfection, then this is not the cruise line for you! However, I doubt that any cruise line would meet those expectations. For the most part, our needs were met before they even crossed our minds. Cabin and cabin service was excellent. We had the most congenial team and whenever I would leave a note (most often for more champagne!), the requested item was there when we returned to our cabin. As described in most reviews, the cabins are spacious with a sleeping area, a lounge, a balcony, and a large bathroom and closet. The ship is going into dry dock later this year for a whole ship refurbishment. The cabins were in good shape but the décor could use refreshing, although it was nowhere near objectionable. Food was also very good, especially in Compass Rose and during the lunch BBQ’s. The chef offered daily specials that reflected the tastes of the region and they were universally excellent. He managed to source local fish and I chose these dishes for almost all my meals. In fact, during one Asian BBQ lunch, they had a huge vat of seafood Thai Green Curry – tiny clams, mussels, lobster, shrimp, fish…oh my, was that delicious. I went back for two servings and snagged the recipe from the sous-chef who was responsible for the dish. The entire staff was gracious with the Captain, General Manager, and Cruise Director frequently visible throughout the ship. The dining room staff was delightful and efficient and not only remembered our names but our preferences. The one negative in the 21 days we were on board was in the Signatures restaurant. I’m not sure if they were having a “moment” but the service was at a snail’s pace and quite disorganized. After 2+ hours and no dessert or waiter to serve it, we walked out. I think what made this cruise so special was that it was an “Artful Travelers” cruise. Artful Travelers is a program where PBS and NPR contributors travel with us and give lectures on their subjects. We had the privilege of sailing with the executive producer of a documentary series, a documentary filmmaker, a conservationist, and a lyricist. In addition to the lectures, meet & greets, and cocktail parties, you could also sign up to have dinner with these very smart and accomplished people who were also wonderful conversationalists. One final story to convince you just how special Regent makes its passengers feel. We had a long day in Israel traveling to Jerusalem. Most excursions, including ours, were 12+ hours. We arrived at the ship late, bedraggled, hot (Israel was having an unusual heat wave for that time of year) and bone tired. We were greeted with cold towels, a live band playing “We are Family”, and many of the staff forming two lines to greet us, clapping and cheering. We danced down the line, no longer tired at all, because we got a good dose of Regent love! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We had some doubts after reading several reviews regarding the ship, especially the availability of good wines by the glass and the standard of service. However once on board we had no issue with the quality of wine, when asking for ... Read More
We had some doubts after reading several reviews regarding the ship, especially the availability of good wines by the glass and the standard of service. However once on board we had no issue with the quality of wine, when asking for some other region of wine the staff were very obliging and delivered. The standard of service was exemplary apart from the shore excursion team who seemed to be less than well organised. We had an experience when trying to leave the ship for an excursion to the Bait Adam Museum in Muscat, Oman. The idea to get very one to arrive back to the ship allot the same time seems to be ridiculous, but thus occurred on numerous occasions. On this day we were being made to stay onboard whilst all of the retiring gets came aboard. The chief Security Officer when we approached him just ignored us. After some time we approached another Officer and complained to him, at this point he approached the security guy, who complained he was to busy! Well talking to certain cruises and taking his eye off the ball is not being busy. The excursions in general were not that good, RSSC call most of them Free, well there are not as they are built into the cost of your cruise, you have to pay more for like seeing Petra or Luxor. Most excursions were over crowded, only because the coaches were not spaced out enough between stopping points. Some of the coaches in some countries were in a poor state (Jordan and Egypt). Again for what the cruise cost should have been better. The cruise terminal at Safaga (Egypt) was the most horrific place to have to moor overnight. The ship was docked right beside a cement terminal, most of the time the wind blew this dust all over the ship, you could not get off and walk around. The security around the port looked pretty abysmal The tours to Jerusalem, docked at Haifa were excellent, the tour guides were switched on. Take a tour around Haifa as well seeing the Bahá'í gardens its known for the Terraces of the Bahá'í Faith, also known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, is well worth seeing. If you stop off in Aqaba make sure you do a tour as the town is very run down really, not much to see. Entertainment on board was not that good, if it was not for the Cruise Director Ray holding it together in would've been a disaster. One night there was entertainment by the ships main pianist, Deputy Cruise Director, and 2 cruise crew. It was embarrassing. Very monotone singing nearly went to sleep. The pre and post stay were well organised by RSSC could not fault the entire arrangements as we stayed over for 2 nights in Dubai. This place you must get round and see (not all in 2 days), however. We stayed at the `Dubai Hilton' staff and service plus room were excellent. So overall we enjoyed the SS Voyager ship, places we visited to see, drinks and the very good food, would we use RRSSC again, yes we would but it would greatly depend on the cruise itinerary. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first Regent cruise, our preferred cruise lines being Silversea (for luxury cruising) and Swan Hellenic (for 'discovery' cruising). I am very lucky and have been cruising regularly since the 1970s and so know the ... Read More
This was our first Regent cruise, our preferred cruise lines being Silversea (for luxury cruising) and Swan Hellenic (for 'discovery' cruising). I am very lucky and have been cruising regularly since the 1970s and so know the industry pretty well. We made our own flight arrangements and flew to Dubai by daytime flight with British Airways and stayed at the very good (and very inexpensive) Meridien Hotel close to the airport. Passengers who took the inclusive flight arrangements from the UK flew, in the main, overnight with Virgin (and were not impressed!). Embarkation the following afternoon at the cruise terminal could not have been easier. It was extremely efficient. We had a standard balcony cabin which was excellent. Cabins (mainly all the same size) are roomy and have good quality fittings and furniture. The beds and bedding are superb, with very good pillows. Bathrooms are roomy and well-equipped with a separate (and efficient) shower. Our two stewards, Clive and Ichero, maintained the whole suite immaculately throughout the voyage, and deserve full marks for their tireless hard work. I was amazed to find out that they have 20 suites to service, twice a day. The industry norm used to be 16-17, which is plenty. The itinerary was excellent, with lots of sea days which we like. Ports of call were good and included Muscat and Salalah in Oman, Safaga, Aqaba and Haifa in the Middle East and then three ports in the Eastern Med. before we arrived at Barcelona. The weather was superb throughout, apart from a couple of windy days towards the end in the Western Med. Having been before to Egypt and Jordan, the highlight for me was the two days spent at Haifa which enabled me to go, firstly, to the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights and then the next day to Old Jerusalem. Both were long, full-day, excursions. On both days we had very good guides (always something of a 'lottery') and both excursions were very well organised and ran to time. Maybe I was just lucky, but I could not criticise the quality and execution of Regent's excursions process. So far, so good. So what didn't come up to expectations? Well, in a nutshell, food and service. This is where I found Regent wanting. There are two basic problems. The first is that the crew are overworked and, with the exception of our cabin stewards, this causes onboard service in bars, restaurants and other public rooms to be haphazard and inconsistent. The same crew member can be spotted on the pool deck at 9 o'clock in the morning arranging the sunbeds and at 9 o' clock in the evening dressed up in a maroon jacket and acting as a wine waiter. I saw little evidence of effective supervision by management. Many crew members appeared to be operating on 'automatic pilot' and were, I felt, demoralised. This, in turn, shows up in terms of service delivery, and is therefore noticed by the passengers. The second area where Regent falls way short of being a 5-star cruise line is the food offering. Breakfast and lunch buffets in the Veranda restaurant were adequate but unimaginative and offered much the same thing day after day. Lunch and dinner menus in the main (Compass Rose) Dining Room were uninspired and uninspiring. One of the main problems is, I suspect, that the ship caters largely for the American market and therefore there is a tendency towards offering too much (for European tastes) red meat, shellfish and salads, and not enough recipe dishes with good vegetable accompaniments. Soups were excellent, whereas first and main courses were, in the main, perfectly edible but dull and bland. Desserts were poor. The ship needs a new pastry chef. Most offerings (apart from a good creme brulee) were heavy and dull. I found it hard to believe that the Head Chef was French! The two speciality restaurants offered more interesting food but it was quite difficult to secure reservations over and above the 'one visit per cruise'. Cooking and menus here seemed rather more interesting. In Prime 7 (the steak restaurant) we were happy to have chosen main courses of lamb and Dover sole when our table companions (from New York) were served with two of the largest steaks I have ever seen. Even they were daunted by them and left more than half on their plates. Such a waste. The other speciality restaurant, Signatures, has a French theme and was good, if a little lacking in atmosphere. The latter is accentuated by the rigid adherence to staggered arrival times in both speciality restaurants which means that they always appear to be half-empty. At night the Veranda turns into an Italian restaurant with self-service of first course and dessert and waiter service of main courses. This was quite good, but the unchanging menu meant that three visits in the course of a three week cruise was enough. The wines available at lunch and dinner were perfectly acceptable 'mid-range' offerings. I use the word 'available' rather than 'offered' because at each meal there is one white and one red wine suggested for that meal. Most passengers will accept whatever is being poured, whereas it is perfectly acceptable to ask for an alternative if that is your preference. Generally, I had no issues over wine apart from one evening being offered a wine which was 'corked'. This was not a problem as the bottle was swiftly changed and the replacement wine was perfectly fresh. However the problem re-surfaced later in the meal when my glass was topped up from the bad bottle, which meant starting all over again! This was inexcusable as the bad wine should immediately have been disposed of. The other problem was (on two occasions, and in separate bars) sparkling wine being passed off as champagne. Again this was put right without fuss, but it ought not to happen. Should I also mention that coffee at breakfast and after meals was generally foul so we usually skipped it, apart from breakfast when we ordered cappucinos from the coffee machine? As to the rest of the features of the cruise, I cannot report meaningfully on the on-board entertainment as we saw little of it, but other passengers reported it as being very good. Certainly the ship has one of the nicest theatres I have seen and the entertainment programme was very full and varied. The other passengers represented a good cross section of nationalities and the overall atmosphere on board was excellent, helped by the lovely weather and calm seas. Much of our day was focussed around the pool on sea days, watching the passing sea. The nicest view in the world. Will I cruise again with Regent? It is hard to say. If the itinerary is right, then maybe yes. But I will do so in the full knowledge that this is a 4-star cruise line, unlike Silversea which offers a consistently better 5-star experience on its equivalent longer sailings. No cruise line is perfect, but Regent does need a shake-up to sort out the food and service issues. I would start with the American management who presumably dictate the food offering and then I would concentrate on revitalising the on-board management. Thereafter I would work down the staff pyramid and re-train and re-enthuse the crew about service delivery. However, while I may have done this sort of thing during my working life, I am not about to give up my retirement to start all over again. Someone else will have to do it! As the title to this review says, it is the story of "The Curate's Egg". Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first cruise and, having undertaken extensive research, booked RSS with the USP of Holy Land tours included. We travelled business class from LHR on Virgin, which was the worse business cabin we have ever experienced. Dubai ... Read More
This was our first cruise and, having undertaken extensive research, booked RSS with the USP of Holy Land tours included. We travelled business class from LHR on Virgin, which was the worse business cabin we have ever experienced. Dubai hotel, JW Marriott Marquis, was excellent. Embarkation was very well managed and lunch on the pool deck was a wonderful start to our trip. Our Butler Suite, thank you Joshua, was spotlessly clean, fantastic walk in closet with all the space you could wish for, champagne on ice to welcome us, mini-bar stocked with our personal choices, and nightly canapés delivered shortly after we had unpacked. Our Stewardess, Recel, and Steward, Michael, looked after us so well - it was almost magic, our suite was always serviced, twice a day, and we were never inconvenienced. The balcony had a lounger, two reclining chairs and a table. As we were in a stern suite we invariably enjoyed sunshine most of the day and enjoyed really good views of the ports. We were very close to the launderette, but not close enough to hear the noise generated by the very efficient machines. Food: pool lunches were varied and tasty; Compass Rose - good solid product; Prime 7 - steaks and sea food to die for; Signatures - highest quality food, presentation and service. Sette Mari - good quality but menu repetitive. La Veranda - breakfast was the weak point but still not bad. Drinks free flowing and good quality. Tours: all very well organised with friendly, military precision. Tour guides all well informed professionals with one exception in Cyprus, who was shockingly awful! Trips in Israel were really good and the highlight of the trip for us. Comfort: bed very comfy with good linen. Bathroom well supplied with top end toiletries and towels. Plenty of bathroom storage space. Very convenient all together. Well serviced by Recel and Michael, great ambassadors for RSS! Safety: this is taken very seriously from the lifeboat drill on day 1, the piracy drill because of our sailing itinerary, and the regular crew drills and updated safety information for passengers. Entertainment and Enrichment: all looked high end but we were not interested in participating. Good variety if this is for you. Overall organisation, especially disembarkation day when Voyager arrived 2.25 hours late due to a Force 9 gale. Staff quickly changed flights and re-scheduled D-bark times to accommodate revised arrangements so smoothly, very well done with no problems. We stayed on in Barcelona, making a great finale to our trip and using RSS business class return flights with BA. Special mention for Ray Solaire, Cruise Director, a real character, Daniel Green the Captain, and Roxana from Signatures who was the most delightful and helpful member of the crew, and that is high praise as all the crew were truly outstanding. We are looking to re-book with RSS before too long. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
A point by point list of my impressions on my first cruise wth Regent. First off, Regent's Scan Design style of decor is not to my liking, which is a shame as it set the tone for my first impressions of the ship. However as I was ... Read More
A point by point list of my impressions on my first cruise wth Regent. First off, Regent's Scan Design style of decor is not to my liking, which is a shame as it set the tone for my first impressions of the ship. However as I was lucky enough to get this cruise at an amazing price, my negative initial first impressions were offset by the quality of almost everything else that Regent is known for, so it balanced out. Plus this was my Bucket Cruise of a Lifetime so I was excited about that alone. I waited a few months to do a review as I've noticed my feelings tend to change over time. Point in fact, when I disembarked I thought it unlikely that I would sail on Regent again. Now - a few months later - I have changed my mind. Especially if the price was right again. I am sailing on Oceania's Marina in a couple of months and am blown away with their exorbitant pricing, which doesn't offer all the bells and whistles that Regent does. So, back to Regent... Or even Celebrity, what with their new Suite Experince. However, back to my cruise on the Voyager: Tour director.... I particularly enjoy his Meet the Crew and Quirky Moments segments. I turn his show on first thing every morning to see what is happening and to watch them. However I still feel the comparison of the steaks in Prime 7 as being the 'best in the world' is ridiculous. They're good, but I've had much better. Food - is very good. Being a stalwart fan of Oceania mainly due to their exemplary food, I didn't expect to enjoy Regent's food as much as I have. Everywhere - but especially during the deck service's lunches and two evening meals. Twice there were amazing meals offered on deck that I was immensely impressed by.... The BBQ especially. And to feed the whole ship all at once! Amazing! Ben - the Executive Concierge is very pleasant and very helpful. Chris - the Destination Manager is extremely kind and caring. He asks how I'm doing at every tour and tries to help in any way he can. Roni - my Butler. Did I say that he was amazing? All Wait staff and, in fact all staff, were very polite, always greeting you, saying good morning etc Wine sommelier excellent. However the wine tasting offered was just that... A tasting of half a dozen different wines offered buffet style. That there were no 'seminar style' tastings offered - especially with so many sea days - was a real disappointment. I learned so much on Oceania's (and spent a considerable amount purchasing my new favourite wines after them). There was a very expensive wine and food pairing offered, but that isn't going to teach me anything as I'd never order wines priced so high and of that caliber. Anything over $100 is just too pricey for me. So I was extremely disappointed not to have had an informative wine tasting. And that the Wine Sommelier had been one of Oceania's sommeliers who had given one of their three (count 'em, three!!) Wine Tasting seminars was like rubbing salt into the wound! Tours: the two 12.5 hr. and 13.5 (really 14.5) hr tours REALLY need more bathroom breaks - 7 hrs plus between WC stops is too long. Many of us are old with weak bladders/kidneys etc. and the toilets in the buses are too difficult to access for many of us. All the tour buses have had excellent A/C except the one we had in Safaga, it had very weak AC, and no reading lights. With 7 hrs uninterrupted travel on the buses, both of those would have been welcome. Also would have appreciated a WC stop. In Turkey and Israel the tour agent was always asking if we wanted a WC break. We assumed it would be the same everywhere else. If not, then the agent should have made mention that there weren't going to be any stops, and told everyone to use the WC before departure. Safaga - Ancient Luxor Tour: Snack on Safaga return was a nice gesture but was very poor. Would have been more tasty (and nutritious) if there was just some juice, a piece of fruit, a piece of cheese and a cookie. Luxor Tour: Driver didn't know where the hotel was where we were to have lunch. Wasted a good ten - fifteen minutes doubling back to it. Not good when you are on such a tight schedule. Then we were dropped off a good two plus blocks from restaurant, way too far. As a Handicapped person, the ten minute walk in that heat was not good. I have to say that the food however was excellent and the buses were at the restaurant door to pick us up. Suggestion re Destination Services onboard: 1. Use one channel on the cabin tv's for the next day's tours (as is currently done) 2. Use 2nd channel of the whole voyage's tours, constantly looping, it would make it easier for guests to review (and perhaps re-evaluate) their selected tours earlier in the cruise, rather than only having the day before to evaluate whether or not the chosen tour was the right one. Would make it less hectic for everyone the day before each tour. As these videos are not available (why not?) prior to the cruise, it would make life easier for all. Read Less
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
Sadly, that's what this cruise turned out to be. We have cruised with Regent previously - our last cruise was from Mumbai to Bali in December 2012. That cruise rated a 9 out of a 10 for us. However, our cruise in 2013 from Istanbul to ... Read More
Sadly, that's what this cruise turned out to be. We have cruised with Regent previously - our last cruise was from Mumbai to Bali in December 2012. That cruise rated a 9 out of a 10 for us. However, our cruise in 2013 from Istanbul to Dubai did not come close to living up to expectations. At best, the onboard experience was a 5. There were several very disappointing aspects to this cruise, however, the most important was the inequality of pricing. We booked our cruise nearly a year in advance at Regent's brochure rate. This was a big mistake because our cruise was hugely discounted (not on Regent's website, however) once final payment was due. We found out in August that Regent was offering huge discounts - nearly $4000 per person less than what we paid for the same suite, that also included air fare. We also found out, while aboard the vessel, that apparently Regent incurred many cancellations due to the itinerary of our cruise and "sold out" the remaining suites in the UK because, we were told, it's easy to fly from the UK to Istanbul to board the ship. Apparently, suites were sold at 100-150 British Pounds per person per day. We also were told aboard the ship that some of these passengers went to book a future cruise and had no idea of the normal pricing Regent charges. What Regent did was take their loyal passengers who paid full price, and threw them together with people who should not have been cruising with Regent because they had no idea of the quality of the line and what they were getting into - many didn't follow the required dress code in the public areas after 6, several became rowdy and drunk to the point of being unable to walk. With regard to inclusive wines, some are good and most are mediocre. There is a huge push to have the "red or white" offering of the evening and if you ask for any other inclusive wine, displeasure became apparent. Having said that, the staff is very polite otherwise and tried their best. The service in the Compass Rose rated from excellent to extremely poor. But we do not fault the waiters because we felt they were doing their best under the circumstances - they were either poorly trained or over-burdened. This was a full ship. Sadly, the service was not consistent in the Compass Rose. The food also was inconsistent in quality and preparation in the Compass Rose. The Veranda Cafe at lunch was always excellent with great service no matter how busy they becomes. Prime 7 was excellent. Entertainment aboard was superb, with particular kudos to the singers and dancers. Enrichment was informative on the subject of the area in which we were traveling, but delivery was quite dull. We could not really understand why quite a large part of the enrichment program was dedicated to the space program while we were traveling through the Middle East. Shore excursions, for the most part were interesting and well-organized. Petra was outstanding and was the highlight of this 21-day cruise. Actually, we had visited some of the ports previously, and were happy to visit new ports, though some were more interesting than others which is normal. One cannot expect to be mesmerized by every port of call. The shore-ex people onboard did a good job in the organization department and things seemed to run smoothly with regard to our tours. Finally, in closing, I would like to add that when we boarded and entered our suite I noted immediately that about a foot of the dust ruffle on the bed was torn and hanging out from where the mattress meets the frame. This was corrected immediately. However, several of the clips that hold the sheers and drapes to the rods were missing so huge loops of sheer and drape were hanging out. In 21 days this was not corrected. There were what appeared to be food splatters on the drape between the sitting area and the sleeping area. The woodwork was quite scuffed. (Regent should be aware of an excellent product "Restore-A-Finish" that would do wonders on a worn wood finish in a hurry with little effort and no expertise required.) Clearly the previous attention to detail is lacking and cuts are being made that affect the onboard quality Regent was known for. In closing it is not a secret that the top management within Regent changed a year ago. The quality of the line, as far as we are concerned, has declined and we hope corrections will be made for the future. We will take a "wait and see" attitude before we book with Regent again.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We have just returned from a superb holiday on Seven Seas Voyager doing their Red Sea Odyssey and have to say the staff and service were again excellent, attentive and charming . We were treated royally. We were on Seven Seas Voyager in ... Read More
We have just returned from a superb holiday on Seven Seas Voyager doing their Red Sea Odyssey and have to say the staff and service were again excellent, attentive and charming . We were treated royally. We were on Seven Seas Voyager in September and were very impressed that is why we have booked again so quickly. To summarise, there are some cruise lines that will do the least they can get away with, whilst Regent do the most they possibly can do to cater for their guests. There is service and then there is the Regent standard of service. The staff on board Seven Seas Voyager are exceptional. The best way to describe the situation it is like a big happy family. Everyone works and pulls together as a team. Every member of staff is charming, attentive and the bottom line is they couldn’t do enough for you. They are approachable, helpful, thoughtful and conscientious. As some other guests commented over dinner about the staff, there are some really nice, genuine people on board who we feel that we have known for a long time. We love the extra small touches and attention to detail. To sum up when you review what you get with Regent all inclusive package, it is exceptionally good value for the money. A large choice of superior excursions which is where you are not jammed packed like sardines on to average buses. First class food and beverage. None of this inferior ten times the price supermarket wine and boil in the bag food. Exceptional entertainment throughout the day and night both externally and in your state of the art interactive TV with free 150 films and more. None of this constant 15% service charge and mandatory daily tip. And most important a suite which is spacious and comfortable with a bathroom with a proper bath and not a don’t turn around wraparound shower curtain and dribble some cruise liners call a shower. Regent pay and look after their staff better hence the guests receive enhanced quality service. The only decision now to make is where to next. We were really enthralled again and look forward to our next cruise on Regent.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We have sailed on the Mariner before, but the atmosphere on this cruise ( Empires of Antiquity) seemed to be more relaxed and organized. Perhaps it was due to Captain Felice Patruno and Cruise Director, Lorraine Weimerskirch. We've ... Read More
We have sailed on the Mariner before, but the atmosphere on this cruise ( Empires of Antiquity) seemed to be more relaxed and organized. Perhaps it was due to Captain Felice Patruno and Cruise Director, Lorraine Weimerskirch. We've been sailing on the Seven Seas ships since 1992 and this is the first cruise with Captain Patruno and Lorraine. The crew seemed to be very happy with their jobs and to be on the Mariner. The included wines were some of the best that we have had on a cruise ship. Chef Kelly Osborne came around each evening to ensure that guests were happy with their meals. Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze. Tours were well planned and organized in that you were given a time to meet in the Constellation Theater where you turned in your tour ticket and were given a bus ticket and waited for your number to be called. There was never a mass push or crowd in the theater. We had cabin 934 that was mid ship. Ports included Athens, Santorini, Aghios Nikolaos on Crete, Haifa, Ashdod (overnight), Limassol, Cyprus, Antalya, Turkey, Rhodes, Ephesus, and Istanbul. While some of the ports were repeats for us, there was enough new ports. For example, Santorini was a repeat, but the archaeological site of Akrotiri has re-opened and should not be missed as it dates back to the Minoan period. On Crete (Aghios Nikolaos (new), we visited the Palace of Knossos. While the site could have been interesting, there were just too many people (cruise ships in) that one couldn't move or the lines to see something were horribly long while standing in the hot sun. To view this site, one should go in the off season for cruise ships. Jerusalem (Haifa) was a repeat for us, but a visit to Zippori National Park (well worth it) and the Golan Heights was new. From (Jerusalem) Ashdod, we visited the Old City (repeat) and nothing new there, but if you haven't visited the Old City, one should do so. At the end of this tour though, we stopped at a shop that was a total rip off so no one bought anything. An example, the shop owner talked to us and showed us some of the items that he had available for sale at a discount. The Ahava products he said were 50% off. I like Ahava products and took a look. At 50% off, a serum was full retail price! Some discount!!!!! Another tour from Ashdod took us to Caesarea National Park that has the ruins from the city that Herod designed and developed that shouldn't be missed as the site is well preserved and beautiful right on the sea where one could take a quick dip during the brief free time (extra cost for this) as there is a changing area at the site. As part of the tour, we drove through Tel Aviv that is nothing special and stopped in Jaffa for lunch at an Arabic restaurant that could have been good except for the packed in tables that had no elbow room and the rip off for a beer ($6) or glass of wine $8. The cost was not disclosed until they came around to collect. Limasosol, Cyprus (repeat) - Pafos - New to us was a visit to the Tombs of the Kings (not really) that were very interesting in that the tombs were those of wealthy families that were underground and as large as some homes and as palatial. From Pafos we continued on to the House of Dionysis to view the mosaics that was a repeat for us. So much more has been excavated since our last visit that we were very happy that we chose this tour. Antalya, Turkey (repeat) -Perge & Aspendos - Our tour took us to the ancient ruins of Perge (new to us). One can view the ruins of the Hippedrome and the city that has been beautifully excavated and work is continuing. At the site, one can visit the bath house and see the remains of marble, mosaics, and the plumbing and heating systems. It's really hard to imagine how construction of these old cities were completed without heavy equipment. The theater of Aspendos that we had visited on a previous trip to Antalya is even more impressive than our last visit. Rhodes (repeat) - touristy and nothing new here. We repeated a tour of the Grand Master's Palace. One should note that on Rhodes public toilets are almost non existent and if you find one, they are Eastern style, you need your own toilet paper, and a clothes pin for your nose. Ephesus (repeat) and the Terrace Houses (new to us) - Wow! It's definitely worth a visit to the Terrace Houses and to see the discoveries, how they are putting the pieces of the puzzle together, the sheer size of some of the homes, and the frescoes! Well done! On this visit too we were able to visit the ancient toilets and the inside of the library. Istanbul - Prior to the cruise we spent 4 days in Istanbul at the Millennium Suites (highly recommend) in the Sultanahmet district and walking distance to the Topkapki Palace, Hagia Sofia, and the Blue Mosque that's always a pleasure to see before flying over to Athens (King George Palace - highly recommend) for a few days before joining the ship. Restaurants to try in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul are Magnaura Café restaurant that is across the street from the Millennium Suites and the Albura Kathisma Café (many thanks to Dremehmet, our waiter, for an enjoyable evening) that is just up the street. At Albura, be sure to ask to view the hidden Palace. If you want a food factory dining experience, rather than a quiet meal, try Develi Restaurant in the Samatya district. This restaurant can serve 700 meals at a time, service is rude, but the food is very, very good. Restaurants to try in Athens are Strofi and Dionysos that have outside dining with magnificent views of the Acropolis. While in Athens we stayed at the King George Palace. Check Trip Advisor for reviews of the above restaurants and hotels. We chose the ship's tour and transfer to the Istanbul airport for $149 each that was well worth it as Regent helped us through security and with the luggage. At the Istanbul airport one goes through security first with your luggage. then you go to drop off your luggage and get your boarding pass. Then you go through security again! We're not critical and the entertainment. On this cruise it was all, in our opinion, very good and thankfully no jugglers or magicians.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
We cruised from Venice to Monte Carlo on Mariner last spring and had a pretty good experience. When we found this amazing 14-day itinerary from Istanbul to Luxor with an included post-cruise tour of Egypt we decided to give Regent a chance ... Read More
We cruised from Venice to Monte Carlo on Mariner last spring and had a pretty good experience. When we found this amazing 14-day itinerary from Istanbul to Luxor with an included post-cruise tour of Egypt we decided to give Regent a chance to wow us and they delivered on every level. Overall we thought the service level had been kicked up a notch from Mariner and the staff were warm, attentive, and reliable. Several staff members used our names consistently, something that really makes a difference to us. The food was very good. Sette Mari is a nice alternative to Compass Rose and we also enjoyed Signatures and Prime Seven. Coffee Connection and the Pool Grill both shined. Lissan kept our suite spotless, Nyoman was very attentive in Compass Rose, and Umberto did an A-plus job leading LaVeranda/Sette Mari. (After long tiring excursions, Umberto waited at the gangplank to let all guests know they could come right up for dinner without a need to change clothes first.) There was just one challenge: we had booked a Penthouse C (783) and found it impossible to sleep in due to the engine noise and vibration. After leaving a message for the GM, we were called by the concierge who offered a midship cabin (738) with our amenities transferred to the new room. This new cabin location was excellent for us and we settled in happily the next morning. We had a wide variety of ports and excursions and a few last-minute changes due to politics and upheaval (port calls in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh were cancelled). Our guides in Rhodes, Jerusalem and Petra were misinformed about the details of the tours and required re-orientation from the guests. Overall tours were good and we think Masada, Petra, Jerusalem and Egypt should be seen in every traveler's lifetime. Regent did a superb job with the arrangements for the post-cruise tour of Luxor and Cairo. I'm guessing that at least 300 passengers participated in the tour and the logistics were very complex. We never once waited in line for anything. Each bus had an Egyptologist (we were lucky to be part of the Isis group under the leadership of Mohamed Shehata Ali, who is so bright and charming) and hotel check-in, luggage, meals, entrance to sights and airport transfers were all managed with great finesse. On the ground in Egypt, there was no reason to ever feel threatened. Mohamed prepared us to deal with pushy vendors (we quickly learned to say "laa shukran - no thank you" in Arabic), monitored our comfort and helped us understand the amazing things we saw in the city, the countryside, and at the ancient sites. The Egyptian people we encountered were very friendly and the kids are delightful and want to practice their English. The Semiramis Intercontinental is right next door to Tahrir Square and we did witness small demonstrations but never felt unsafe. If Egypt is a destination that appeals to you, monitor the situation and understand that unrest has been confined to small pockets in the city. You will be well rewarded when you visit. For those who are curious, here is a slideshow (11:09) from our cruise and tour: http://youtu.be/M4JklywHFec   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our second Regent cruise, and the first on Voyager. We selected a standard balcony suite on deck seven. No need for a butler on Regent, as the housekeeping and room service staff take care of everything, except perhaps that ... Read More
This was our second Regent cruise, and the first on Voyager. We selected a standard balcony suite on deck seven. No need for a butler on Regent, as the housekeeping and room service staff take care of everything, except perhaps that extra night in the speciality restaurant, that you want, but don't want to do it for yourself. The cruise from start to finish was well done. We arrived a day early and were picked up at the Dubai airport, and taken to the pre-cruise hotel, which was the very nice Intercontinental Festival Island. A nice city tour was provided, and the next day we boarded the ship. At the end, we stayed over in Athens for a day due to flight capacity issues, and it was a nice bonus. Regent took care of us the whole time, and then delivered us to the Athens airport for the trip home. This cruise line is all inclusive start to finish, and there is always someone from Regent there. We visited 10 ports in 17 days, and some of the excursions lasted up to 13 hours. Excursions ranged from good to excellent, and there were additional charges for some of the really long ones. In some of the ports we visited there wasn't much to see, so excursions were just narrated drive throughs that took only four hours. If it was there to be seen, you saw it. This was particularly true of Muscat, Oman. I would have rather that we drove around in circles at sea, but after all it was the capital of Oman. Food was uniformly good regardless of venue. Compass Rose, the main dining room was as good as either of the speciality restaurants, with an excellent, and varied selection of dishes. Safety of the passengers, was clearly a high priority, as we would be spending time in pirate seas. The crew drilled every two to three days on all aspects of vessel, and passenger safety, and we had a group of about six special security staff, who I think were South African, who were quitely going about their business. A last word about the suite that we really liked was that it had both a shower, and a separate bath, a feature which her sister Mariner does not have. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
I was not certain as to whether or not I should do a review of our 21 night cruise from Barcelona to Dubai on the Voyager. The sailing was excellent -- it is just a matter of too much information to fit into a review properly. Obviously, ... Read More
I was not certain as to whether or not I should do a review of our 21 night cruise from Barcelona to Dubai on the Voyager. The sailing was excellent -- it is just a matter of too much information to fit into a review properly. Obviously, I've decided to give it a try. Vancouver to Barcelona: We deviated the flights to insure that we were booked on the exact flights we wanted. The pre-cruise hotel choices were not to our liking in terms of area so we took the credit and booked our own hotel (Duquesa de Cardona -- a delightful boutique hotel near the waterfront for 140 Euros including breakfast). Flying Lufthansa is great on one hand and not so great on the other. The food and service are excellent. The Business Class seats move into many configurations -- none of them comfortable or flat. The cabin was also kept too warm. Frankfurt airport presented typical challenges. You arrive at one terminal and must go through Passport Control and x-ray in order to take the long walk to the terminal you will depart from. The Business Class lounge is adequate but always crowded. Upon arrival in Barcelona, we took a taxi to the hotel (31 Euros -- you pay extra for each piece of luggage). Many restaurants are closed on Sunday nights. Tourist restaurants remain open. We have been to Barcelona before and decided to go to an Irish Pub (Dunne's) for some bangers and mash (aka sausages and mashed potatoes) and beer. It was a lovely restaurant -- walking distance to the hotel. The included breakfast the next morning was fresh and delicious. After breakfast, we took a stroll down Las Rambla and visited the Boqueria Market (such an interesting place to visit). We were quite pleased with our short visit to Barcelona and headed to the ship close to noon. Embarkation: Embarkation was quick and easy and began promptly at noon. Being served "real" champagne was nice after years of sparkling wine. Within a few minutes we were up in La Veranda ordering wine with our lunch. Suites were ready on time and soon we were drinking more champagne in the suite and unpacking. Condition of the Ship: The Voyager was refurbished in September, 2011 and looked like new. All carpeting and wallpaper was removed and replaced -- wood floors redone, etc. There is a video of the refurbishment on television. My only comment concerns the carpeting. I am guessing that extra carpeting was purchased when the three ships were refurbished 2-3 years ago. Either that or they purchased the same carpet. IMO, the selected carpets work in all areas except hallways and the atrium. The carpet was already looking stained in these areas -- in only two months. It is particularly noticeable prior to entering the Observation Lounge on deck 11. Hopefully, the powers that be will select a carpet for these areas that does not show spilled drinks/stains quite as much. The highly touted beds are not that great. My DH asked our Steward (lovely man) to set up twin beds because he could not sleep on the double padded memory foam. His comment was that the only memory it had was from the last people that slept on it. He had his mattress turned upside down which worked better. Service: The service we received for the three weeks we were on the Voyager was nothing short of extraordinary. Starting with the wonderful Captain and General Manager, everyone on board did a wonderful job. Our Cruise Director, Paul Reynolds, endears himself to everyone he meets. Chris Martin, Asst. Cruise Director, is constantly at hand with a smile on his face and endless energy. We hope that he will have gained the title of Cruise Director when we see him again. I do not believe I have ever commented on a Cruise Consultant. Michael Coleman is by far the best Cruise Consultant we have met. The last week there was a booking frenzy on board due to generous onboard incentives. Michael handled the enormous amount of bookings -- met with the passengers and kept his smile and sense of humor the entire time. We saw him at his computer working at 11:00 p.m. On top of all that, he loves his job! Our Butler, Raju is amazing. He sought us out to make certain that everything we needed was being taken care of. He made suggestions for special orders (like the fabulous mushroom soup) and insured that we had them at dinner. He is a top notch Butler and a great human being. Our Steward, Putu was also quite amazing. Our suite was kept perfectly all of the time. We never had to wait for our suite to be cleaned. He knew when we went to breakfast and insured it was done before we returned. Dining Venues La Veranda was the biggest surprise for us. The food was improved (especially loved the salmon in a puffed pastry with butter sauce . . . . no calories of course?) The service was usually slow or absent on our prior cruises. On this cruise the service was consistent and excellent. Abigail, one of the managers in La Veranda has been in La Veranda for quite some time and insures that everything is handled promptly and efficiently. An up and coming "star" in La Veranda is "Mi Made". She remembered our names from the beginning and always greeted us with a smile. Some of the servers and wine stewards work both LV and CR. We received amazing service from Laksman and Andy (our drinks appeared at our table almost before we did), Wilson and Jackson as well as many more. Each and every person working in La Veranda was a pleasure to be around. Bravo La Veranda! We generally receive good service and food in Compass Rose. One reason for is that we intentionally dine early -- before the crowds (plus, it leaves more time for after dinner drinks in the lounge). The first time we entered Compass Rose we were pleasantly surprised to see Head Waiters Francisco and Joey. We have cruised with them both before and they are delightful. Next we discovered "Zaldy" -- the perfect waiter (he also gives good hugs). Emmanuel and Andrew made sure we had our favorite wine at our table each night. I need to make a special note at this point because there have been discussions on CruiseCritic as to whether or not you need to find a server and sit mostly in their section. You absolutely can find excellent service anywhere in Compass Rose. However, for us, when we get to know the crew working in a certain area of the restaurant, it enriches our experience. I asked Zaldy about this and he also enjoys seeing the same people as it gives him a chance to anticipate their needs since he served them previously. While nothing can ever be perfect, the food in Compass Rose was right on target most of the time. We enjoyed many excellent meals there. Signatures is a restaurant we want to like. I have come to the conclusion that we do not like French food. We dined at Signatures on the first night of the "new" menu. The foie gras was undercooked (for me) and the accompanying chutney did not compliment the foie gras. Half of the halibut was tasty-- the other half undercooked. This was due to the way it was cut (much thicker on one side than the other). We did enjoy one item very much -- the tomato soup! Prime 7, IMO, needs consistency. We have had the best and worst crab legs at Prime 7. This time I wonder if the crab was held over from the last cruise. For the first time we asked for the crab to be taken out of the shell. Both of our plates had small bits and pieces of crab -- not very flavorful. Overall we find the food on Regent to be good to excellent. The Dining Room Manager Chimmy was everywhere at the same time (or so it seemed). He wants perfection and I believe it is being achieved most of the time. We spend our evening time in the Observation Lounge. The Head Bartender, Joe (Jose?) has been with Regent from the beginning and can make just about any drink you can think of. He must be one of the top bartenders in the world. He knows the science of alcohol -- not just how to pour a drink. He teaches others in his area with patience and caring. He was a joy to talk with -- learning about his background with Regent as well as his very well rounded life. Excursions -- this is a huge topic and heavily debated on the boards. I have been quite outspoken about not wanting included excursions and have been unhappy with the "cattle call" atmosphere we had on a previous cruise with hallways filled with guests trying to get off of the ship. On this cruise, I would say that there is a 90% improvement. It was organized with shorter lines (or no line) to get off of the ship. We did not tender at any port so this should be considered. There is still a little confusion when people try to leave the theater -- they walk out of the entrance and exit -- even though they are clearly marked. Still -- much improved. Due to confusion at the head office, the Destination Services desk was overwhelmed with guests immediately upon embarkation. We understood that changing the port of Ashdod was a big deal. In my opinion, it would have been far better to give no information than to consistently give incorrect information on the telephone. This clearly was not the fault of the Customer Service Representatives as many times they checked with their supervisors. After questioning the conflicting answers on the telephone, they began telling everyone to go to Destination Services when they get on board. This caused very long lines for the first two or three days. Ports Valletta, Malta -- is a gorgeous port to sail into -- especially on a beautiful, sunny day. We took the "Scenic Sights of Malta" excursion -- a 4 hour tour. The excursion was well done and quite enjoyable. Rhodes, Greece -- also a beautiful port to sail into. In Rhodes we did the "Culinary Delights" excursion as we had been to this port previously. It included a city tour and a cooking demonstration with lunch (included excursion). The food was to die for -- definitely would rate this a "10"! Limassol, Cyprus -- We decided to stay local and not do an excursion at this port. We may have taken a shuttle into town. Haifa, Israel -- We docked in Haifa for three days due to the cancellation of the port of Ashdod. Docking in Haifa added a minimum of two hours each way to our excursion driving time. We did the following included excursions: Day One -- We took an excursion to a Kibbutz that resides in an area that was formerly Syria (Syria is now 2 miles away -- visible from where we were). Bunkers remain from when Syria occupied the area. The kibbutz is lovely -- we learned about life on a Kibbutz (which is non-denominational) -- much too detailed to go into. There are air-raid shelters throughout the Kibbutz -- not an easy way to live. Day Two -- We took an 8 hour Jerusalem tour that ended at the David Citadel Hotel where Regent provided an overnight stay. Dinner was on our own and we found a delightful café across the street where we dined with three CC members. Day Three -- The return bus back to the ship left at 10:30 a.m. We had a good buffet breakfast at the hotel. There were so many Regent guests staying at this hotel (I believe they had 200 rooms) that a large ballroom type facility was set up for breakfast. After transiting the Suez Canal we continued on to Safaga, Egypt where the majority of guests took the 3 ½ hour bus ride to Luxor where there was another included night at a hotel. Having visited Luxor previously, we decided to take the Jeep Safari to a Bedouin camp for tea and unleavened bread. The ½ hour ride into the desert (quite bumpy) was lovely. We were glad that the jeeps were enclosed so the sand stayed outside. On the second day we took the shuttle into town and returned to the ship immediately as there is nothing to see or do in town. We enjoyed a nice restful day and were aware that we had a big day ahead of us in Petra, Jordan the next day. Aqaba, Jordan -- Much has been written about Petra -- a stunning area to see and worth the time to go there (note: this tour was $139/person). There is a tremendous amount of walking unless you wish to take the carriage ride ($35) which goes so quickly that you cannot really enjoy the scenery. There are also horses. . . . and, for the last portion of the journey, camels are available. My "walking partner" and I -- both suffering from knee injuries that are in the process of healing, took it slowly and managed to walk all but the last section. At that point, knowing that we had to do the same walk back -- only uphill -- decided against going down the steep hill that takes you to the amphitheater. My DH took pictures for me. We shopped in Aqaba during the second day in port as we cancelled our 2nd excursion -- to Wadi Rum. Although probably more scenic than our similar excursion in Egypt, Wadi Rum goes into the desert in an open jeep to a Bedouin camp. People did get cold and sand was blowing. Finally we had our anticipated four sea days. There were wonderful (even though we spent half of it transiting the Gulf of Aden.) There were plenty of events onboard and there also had a Country Fair in the atrium of decks 4 and 5 (probably because having this event on an open deck in the area we were traveling in was not a good idea). Our next port was Salalah, Oman -- a lovely port with beautiful white sand beaches. We did the "Scenic Salalah" excursion that took us around the city. We could only view the beautiful mosque from the outside as it was Friday. Fortunately, it was not Friday when we reached Muscat, Oman as they have the most incredible mosque we have seen in our travels. Women had to dress in a way that their arms were covered (beyond their wrist), and they legs were covered below the ankle. We were checked prior to entering the mosque. In anticipation of this day, I purchased an abaya (traditional "dress" worn by Muslim women) and had a scarf around my head covering my hair. IMO, the beauty of this mosque exceeds that of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Oman is very different than the other countries in the Middle East as it has water and therefore, rather than all desert, there were palm trees, gardens, lawns -- a lot of natural beauty. I found Jordan to be the most surprising country -- very advanced -- growing -- progressive (they education female children before males if money is an issue) and the people feel kindly towards "Westerners". Egypt was sad -- it was no longer the thriving country we visited in 1989 as it is torn by unrest. Passengers that went to Luxor shared stories of very aggressive beggars and dirty conditions around the ruins. Israel opened my eyes to many things. I will be pondering what I learned there for a long time. I leave Dubai for last. It is glitz and glamour amongst "secrets". Dubai is not as it appears. . . . I'll leave it at that. Regent provided different accommodations for their passengers -- depending upon their departure time. We were on our own and stayed at the Airport Millenium Hotel which was very nice and a good price. We dined at the "Blue Elephant" which I highly recommend. It isn't in a high rise hotel with beautiful views (actually, the visibility in Dubai isn't very good), but is a beautiful restaurant with rich woods and a koi pond. Conclusion (finally) -- This was a magnificent cruise! From the service to the food and even the excursions (which I must admit were quite good) -- everything was at or near perfection. We cannot wait to be back on the Voyager in four months and have also booked 3 new cruises through May, 2013! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
Flight Arrangements I am beginning this trip report long before the trip as this has been the hardest trip to arrange so far. The trip is basically a cruise on the Regent Voyager from Athens to Dubai with a few days in Athens before and ... Read More
Flight Arrangements I am beginning this trip report long before the trip as this has been the hardest trip to arrange so far. The trip is basically a cruise on the Regent Voyager from Athens to Dubai with a few days in Athens before and one long day in Dubai at the end. The problem with the trip was arranging the air travel to the ship and then home after the cruise. The original plan was to fly first class over and back. The trip from DFW to ATH was to be with BA from DFW to LHR then LHR to ATH. The return was to be with Emirates from DXB to JFK, then JFK to DFW with AA. I had the seats arranged, but not paid for through my travel agent. The first problem occurred when EK decided to withdraw the A380 from the DXB to JFK route. Well that was the whole point to taking that route as it was a chance to fly on an A380. Plan two was an EK 777 from DXB to IAH, then CO from IAH to DFW. That plan lasted for a while until the next problem or in this case opportunity occurred. In May BA decided to have a two for one Club World sale. I calculated the savings at $16,000 over the F fares. I decided for $16,000 I could indeed fly in business class. The routing would now be DFW to LHR and LHR to ATH outbound then DXB to LHR and LHR to DFW back home. Outbound was still all BA. However, I found that EK runs an A380 from DXB to LHR. The arrival time would mean a stay overnight in London as a connection to the LHR to DFW flight with BA would not be possible on the same day. Next problem. The original return date was October 28. However, changes at work pushed the date to October 25. Of course this would prompt a date change for the return leg of LHR to DFW. Next problem. I kept looking at the cost to upgrade the TATL flights back to first. The flight from LHR to DFW is always a 777 with all classes except this one day. On the 25th of October the highest class is Club World. Well so much for going First the entire way. Besides the LHR to ATH segment was always only Club Europe as that is all they offer. So I decide to just make the entire trip in business after all. Next problem. With these plans in mind the travel agent informs me that the Club World fare from DXB to LHR is higher than the First fare. What? Then I find that BA and American Express have made an agreement to allow one for one Membership Points to miles transfers. Hum, I have 138,000 points. I can use these to upgrade the back and forth flight on the LHR DFW segments. Next problem. The American Express web site does not list BA as an airline to which such a transfer can be made. It seems this will be implemented some time before the end of the year. End of the year? I need it now. So now what? Back to CW over, CE down to ATH, F back to LHR from DXB, and CW on the TATL back to DFW. I am getting so confused. Even worse this is creating havoc with my OCD. I do like everything neatly organized and balanced. This is definitely not. Next problem. After arranging everything else the only thing left to was to call BA to change the date of the DFW to LHR segment. On doing so they inform me that in addition to a $500 change fee per ticket I must pay the fare difference between the 2 for 1 price and the current ticket price. What? I could not see this anywhere on the rules for this promotion I printed in May. Next problem. I decide to argue with BA one more time. Of course I got nowhere. However I did get a clear explanation of the problem and the only two solutions. Solution one as detailed above is to change now and pay the fare difference. This is because we are within some 42 advance purchase window. At a cost of $6,000 something dollars that is not an option. However, for reasons unclear to me if we take the first flight on the ticket, the DFW to LHR segment, then once again we can magically change the date of the return flight for just the change fee of $500 per person. As at this point as I do not entirely trust BA on this I had the TA purchase a discounted business class ticket for each of us on an AA two class flight on a 767 just in case. I will just cancel these tickets at a small cost if I can work out things with BA. Next problem. Actually in this case it is another opportunity. One I was quick to take advantage of. Every few days I had been logging into ba.com to try some new scheme to do two things. First, change the return flight to the 25th without paying the fare difference now as opposed to doing this in London. Second, to upgrade the DFW to LHR segment in some way other than paying 8,600 something dollars per person. Today I was going to explore another way to buy BA miles to give me enough to upgrade. To my great surprise on going to Manage My Booking today up pops an offer to upgrade the DFW to LHR segment to First for $649 per person. $649? I can do that. Of course I click on the link to do this as it is a ba.com only offer to have the system say, sorry you cannot do this online, call reservations. So you cannot take advantage of an online only offer online. Hum, plan two, call BA. The nice gentleman on the other end says "I do not know. Let me consult a supervisor." Many minutes later back he comes to say, just hold on we are checking. More minutes go by then back he comes to say what credit card should this be charged to? Seconds pass, then he says you are all set. I am thinking great, but I must have seats 1E and 1F as Expert Flyer only shows 1E, 1F, 2E, and 2F available with 1A and 1K being blocked. Expert Flyer also shows F7 which makes no sense with that seat count. I ask to select the seats now over the phone as this is F. He says no you can only change the seats at check in. But you can see what seats have been assigned online now. I think, fine, let's go back online where I bet I can change seats. Sure enough we are in 1E and 1F, which I change to 2E and 2F. Within minutes a flurry of email messages arrive confirming all of these changes. All that is left is to see if this really happens on flight day. With the H1N1 flu panic and so forth, I have my doubts. I will report back. DFW to LHR Well, we're off. I still do not have the return flight arranged, but we did make it to ATH through LHR. The details are as follows. The car service driver picked us up at 2 for a 5:35 pm flight from DFW Terminal D to LHR T5. I had advised him to bring the large vehicle as we ended up with eight pieces of luggage. Yes, eight. Four large bags, two carryon size bags, a combination messenger bag backpack, and a purse size bag for the leftovers. Somehow I think this is going to be a trend in packing for these trips. At Terminal D we made a stop at the BA desk to see if the bags could be checked through to ATH as the tickets from DFW to LHR, then LHR to ATH were on separate records. Indeed they could be. After checking the bags we were invited to wait in the BA contract lounge in Terminal D. I had planned to wait in the Admirals Club. I decided I would be too nervous not being able to watch the departures board if we went to the Admirals Club. The BA lounge area is shared by several airlines. Each one has their own section. In the main part of the BA lounge there is a luggage drop, snacks and drinks, a TV area, tables, and chairs of various types. There is separate First Class section that is basically the same, except for less food. It is behind a door. Seems a little silly, but I have to admit I stayed in there rather than in the larger room. The flight boarded on time. They called the First and Business class passengers first. The FA greeted Mrs. Paint Horse and I at the door. A colleague of his directed us to the seats in the middle of the middle row. Once we were in our seats a predeparture drink was offered. For Mrs Paint Horse and I this was champagne. Being a philistine I did not ask the type. It was however very smooth. The amenity kit and pajamas were handed out while everyone else boarded. As this is a feed them, then put them to sleep flight no time was wasted. The crew on this flight was efficient and business like. They were just friendly enough to make the flight a pleasant experience. The only problem I noticed was the CSD did not introduce himself to anyone despite spending most of his time in the F section. He was an older man who should have known better. Dinner was quite good for airline food. Dinner service was paced just right. The result being dinner was not hurried, but was provided quickly enough to allow everyone to maximize sleep time. This being our first time over the Atlantic Mrs Paint Horse and I decided to use the change your clocks and your mind to the time it is at the end of the flight after boarding method. This meant we were eating dinner at 11:30 at night then going to bed. As this is not usual for us it worked quite well. We did change into the pajamas before dinner in case of spills, as I am quite prone to this. All that was left before going to sleep was to clean up. As we did so the seats was converted to beds. I found the bed on this old style F seat to be very comfortable. The only thing I did not like was the lack of width on the inside. Despite the bed I did not sleep well. It seems I do not sleep well on aircraft whether sitting up or lying down. About an hour before landing breakfast was served. Not knowing how much trouble we would have getting through LHR we went ahead and ate on the aircraft. Once again for aircraft food is was fine. On arrival at LHR on time we taxied to a remote stand. On disembarking it was onto the buses. I do not like this method, but I must say it was not as bad as I expected. On leaving the bus navigating for the first time through LHR was not as bad as I expected either. On leaving the bus we went up an escalator of course. This is LHR after all. This is somewhat tricky when one has two bags to tote around. At the top of the escalator were BA ticket desks and the lanes to divide the passengers into lines based on where they were going. We stopped at the BA desk to see about changing the return flight from the 28th to the 25th. It was a bad sign when neither one of two ticket agents could locate the fare bucket in their system. So no change at LHR. Even worse the seat count in J had strangely gone from J7 to J0 in all CW categories within two days. I believe the AA backup plan will have to go into effect. LHR to ATH After the ticket desk we were off again to a line for connecting passengers. This was quite easy as there were staff members at the entrance to answer questions about the correct queue one was to enter. Once again it was up an escalator with the bags. This is getting tiresome. At the top is the security check. I still do not understand why there is a security check for passengers getting off an aircraft in order to connect to another aircraft. It would make more sense to do this right before boarding instead of right after arriving. I must say the security staff were all friendly and helpful. This day it was bags in bins and shoes on. I managed to set off the metal detector. I do not recall why. The result was a pat down. On collecting everything it was time to find the Concorde Room. I knew it was at one end or the other of the exit from the security area. Of course there were no signs indicating what was where. I soon found we had arrived at the south end of T5. So it was off to the north end. Sure enough at the north end of the floor we found the guarded door. Presentation of the F boarding pass for the just arrived on flight resulted in the dragon opening the door for us. While in the Concorde Room I took the time to examine the area. As others have described it consists of various sitting areas, a bar, a restaurant, the terrace, and the various washrooms. I found it interesting that the washrooms are all individual rooms. Very nice. The Cabanas are smaller than I expected, but adequate in size. All Mrs Paint Horse and I did was sit and drink as much caffeine as possible in order to overcome the lack of sleep on the flight over. I was pleased to see neither one of us experienced any jet lag. I found that odd considering the lack of sleep. After a couple of hours it was time to wander over to the departure gate for the flight to ATH. This was one of the most difficult parts of navigating around T5. The door dragon pointed us in the general direction, but we could not see the gate as it was hidden behind the shopping mall that inhabits most of T5. On the way to the gate we first entered a restaurant looking for the escalator down, yes another escalator. The restaurant staff pointed us to the other side of a store. After winding through a store the down escalator landed us in another store. But sure enough there hidden behind the cosmetics counter was the gate. The flight to ATH left on time on a 763. I did not know this aircraft had more room in the middle section of CE. We were in the A and B seats. There was enough room, but the middle section would have been better. The flight proceeded without difficulty. On arrival at ATH to my surprise it was down the steps and onto another bus. What is this with BA and buses? Do they own a worldwide bus company? At ATH it was into the terminal, through passport control, and to baggage claim. I see the Greeks are not really into border control. This was the most perfunctory examination and stamping of a passport I have seen so far. Baggage claim was a problem as the car service driver had to wait outside. This meant maneuvering eight bags from baggage claim to the nonsecured area. Carts were available at one Euro, of which I had none. Of course there is a currency exchange right there or should I say a highway robbery exchange right there. With one Euro in hand, which cost me two Euros, the bags were loaded. Athens Outside we were met by the taxi drivers. Yes, taxi drivers - plural. You see a Mercedes-Benz E Class taxi as used in Greece cannot hold eight bags. Therefore, we had to form a caravan. Mrs. Overpacking Paint Horse, myself, and two bags in one car; the rest of the bags in the other car. The trip from the airport to the hotel was interesting. Since Athens is so large traffic is quite thick. There are two primary methods used by then local drivers to manage this mass of traffic. First, they just go where they want to go regardless of who might already be there. At the last second if they perceive the other driver is more resolute than they are, then they change direction. The second method is to drive a motorcycle of some sort. Being small these weave in and out of traffic, make lanes out of the stripes on the road, and generally go whenever and wherever they wish. It works in Athens. If they tried this in Texas they would likely be shot. The hotel in Athens was the Grand Bretagne. This is a very old, but well maintained, hotel in the center of the city. Being older the rooms are just typical size and layout hotel rooms, but well appointed. From the balcony of our room we could look left at the Parliament building, straight ahead at Constitution Square, and to the right at the Acropolis. These views at night were very pretty. Before catching the ship in Piraeus the plan was to do as much touring as possible in two days. On the first day we made an early start with the tour guide to visit the Acropolis before the cruise ship tours arrived. This was the beginning of much walking that would be done in Athens. After climbing up, viewing, and climbing back down out the ruins of the Parthenon we went to the new museum to see the recovered artifacts in context. This is a very nice museum. While touring it the advance of a bevy of suits indicated the presence of someone special as one of the suits was the museum director. This group was escorting Queen Sophia of Spain through the museum. The next stop was a walking tour of Plaka. This is tour included lunch. I can say with no hesitation that no one who visits Greece will ever leave hungry. Lunch consisted of dish after dish after dish. After this first tour dinner was at Daphne's back in Plaka. The Concierge suggested we walk. I assume the city is safe at night or he would not have suggested so. Once again we found the food outstanding. This is an interesting restaurant. It is of course in an old building with part being inside and part outside. We sat at a table on a recessed patio. On the second day a new guide took us off in another direction to see the old Agora. This tour ended with a visit to the Benaki museum and lunch on the top floor. The guides had advised us, and we noticed the locals strictly adhered to, to never enter a traffic lane unless the green pedestrian sign was on. Otherwise you will become a mere speed bump for the many cars and motorcycles. We noticed while leaving the hotel as well as touring central Athens that there are a number of stray dogs in the area. The guides said the city allows them to stake out a territory. The city then provides shots and neutering to them. There were two dogs that stay at the hotel. The first, Sweety, stayed near the front door mostly. The second one assisted the traffic police every day. You could see him running back and forth barking at the traffic during rush hour. The last part of the tour commenced in the early evening with a drive to Cape Sounion. This allowed us to see some of the area outside of Athens as we drove to the temple at the cape. At the end of this dinner was at Ithaki. This is a restaurant in the Cape Sounion area that has received excellent reviews. The restaurant did live up to its reviews as the food was excellent, as were the views from our table outside on a patio. In fact the entire restaurant was more or less outside as the large doors to the inside portion were open. As in Athens we could see that the Greeks have a very casual approach to critter control. As we were eating two then three cats wandered by. One decided I looked like an easy mark, which is correct. He took up a position between my chair and the retaining wall beside the table. He then gave me a I have not eaten in weeks look. I dropped a piece of Lobster Thermidor to him. Let me just say subsequent portions were feed to these cats by the waiter using a fork. These little guys just wander around the restaurant. The last day in Athens was consumed by repacking and traveling to the port of Piraeus to board the ship. The ship for the remainder of the surface borne trip was the Regent Voyager. The itinerary for the trip unfortunately placed most of the activities one after the other at the beginning of the trip. Egypt After one sea day to transit from Greece to Egypt it was up early to take an overnight tour of Cairo. For this tour we drove through the eastern desert from Port Said to Cairo. The route took us down the side of the Suez Canal then over to Cairo. This was done as is typical in Egypt in a convoy with police at the front, back, and onboard each bus. You can always tell who the individual bus guards are as they wear a suit and tie regardless of the temperature. Under the jacket is a very large weapon. As this was our first experience with this it was more of a novelty at this point. The eeriness of this was to increase as we spent more and more time in Egypt. The first stop near Cairo was to the Step Pyramid. This was done to show the development of construction techniques from this early pyramid to the later more extensive ones. As we left this site to drive to the hotel the unique qualities of Egypt began to come into view. The three things that stand out the most to the casual visitor to Cairo are this must be one of the filthiest cities in the world, it must also be one of the most inefficient economies in the world, and that the drivers on the roads are maniacs. Let me expand. First, there is nowhere in the Cairo area where you can go without seeing trash everywhere. Trash piles are along the sides of the roads, in the Nile, in the canals, and around the buildings. This makes seeing Cairo quite the Jekyll and Hyde experience. Here are the builders of the great pyramids surrounded by trash piles. Second, there are thousands of unfinished buildings everywhere. The explanation we were given is that these are squatters. They find a piece of land and start building a multistory building on it. They never finish the building since if they did so they would have to begin paying taxes on it. What? Who owns this land they just built on? If the entire country knows what the scam is, why don't they change the law? This is after all a dictatorship. Third, along every road near the Nile there are small inefficient farms. I assume these are left to give the lower classes something to do. But it must be terribly inefficient in such small parcels. All in all the Egyptians are quite strange. An interesting insight into how the country is run was provided by one of the tour guides while at lunch on the second day. I asked who would take over when Mubarak passes away. He stated that it would be one of his sons. I asked him how the country would take to this. He said it mattered more what the United States thought about it, then what the population of Egypt thought. The final stop on the second day was to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. I must say these are impressive structures. Of course the idiot wife had to ride a camel. This consisted of employing the tour guide to negotiate a rate for the ride as well as standing in the middle of a herd of smelly beasts. Those things do stink. The hotel for the overnight in Cairo was the new Four Seasons across the street from the Nile. This is a very nice hotel. While watching the traffic on the street between the hotel and the Nile I finally understood why Egyptian drivers honk so much. It is because none of them stay in their lane. For example, while driving down one of the main multilane expressways around Cairo as we would approach a vehicle it would just slide over into part of our lane. The bus driver made a short honk. The other driver moved back in his lane. Then another vehicle would wander over into some other lane. They just pay no attention to the stripes on the road. To the Egyptian drivers a road is just one big, single lane. The location of this hotel is exceptional. Our room overlooked the Nile. Is was just the perfect experience to be standing on the balcony looking at the Nile as the sun went down with the call to prayer echoing across the city. This must be why people put up with the awful pollution in Cairo. It was so bad my nose ran the entire time we spent in the city. The evening of the first day was spent at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This was a private opening of the museum just for our group of about 50 or so people. Although the total time in the museum was limited the lack of crowds allowed us to spend a sufficient amount of time at each of the major exhibits. I understand that during standard opening hours the museum is so full that it is difficult to see the exhibits. The last part of this stop was the drive to Suez to meet the ship. One more section of the eastern desert was visited during this transit. The boarding procedure at Suez was a bit odd. The Egyptians are just the opposite of the Greeks when it comes to passports and luggage. We first stopped at a warehouse in the port. We then proceeded to unload the luggage from the bus, walk into a warehouse where we passed it through an X-ray machine, then it was back on the bus to reload the luggage then drive a few feet to the dock. The ship did not dock in Suez so when it came time to examine the passports for exit from Egypt this was done on the dock in the dark. The only light the officials had was provided by cell phones. It seems we arrived a little later than expected. After some back and forth it turned out all they wanted to see was the Port Said entry stamp. Jordan The ship next docked in Jordan for another overnight stay. The port city of Aqaba is not very large, nor does there seem to be much activity at the port. While driving through the city it is easy to see major differences between Egypt and Jordan. In Jordan the roads, at least the ones in Aqaba and up north toward Petra, are very well maintained. Trash everywhere as we saw in Egypt is not seen in Jordan. All in all the Jordanians seem to know what they are doing. The first day of this overnight trip consisted of leaving the ship in the afternoon to travel to Wadi Rum. On arriving at the visitor's center for this area we switched from a new, air conditioned bus, with nice seats to a beat up, falling apart piece of shit small truck. One must climb up over the tailgate to find a seat on one of the benches that lines the sides of the bed. Now keep in mind that this is a ship full of older folks for the most part. By older I mean 65 to 90. I do believe sticking these sorts of folks in such conditions is a major error. I know I was not very comfortable with the arrangements. However, in looking around I did not see any better vehicles anywhere. Once onboard we proceeded to wander around the desert. There were several stops to climb small hills for a better view, look at various sand and rock formations, and examine the writings found in the area. Other than the poor quality of the transportation this was great fun. As the sun set we arrived at a tent camp for dinner. Dinner consisted of salads of various sort, incredibly thin round bread, and various meats cooked on a grill or in a buried pot. As in Greece I see no one leaves Jordan hungry. After dinner it was off to the Movenpick hotel at the entrance to Petra. This is a nice hotel with typical rooms. The next morning it was off early to Petra to beat the crowds. The picture everyone sees of Petra is the Treasury. This is the most impressive structure. However, there are many others below it. To be sure we saw all of it the guide kept up a quick pace. It seems the round trip from the gate to the sign at the end that says to not enter without a guide back to the gate is six miles. The first three are downhill, but of course the other three are back up that same slope. I must say for the entire last mile my legs were quite tired. Petra is well worth the trek however. There are numerous but well behaved vendors in several parts of Petra. They sell tourist junk, rides down or up, and beverages. Everything is one dollar or ten dollars or whatever amount they like to begin with. One must bargain. It was funny when we passed the small store at the entrance to Petra inside the park the vendor was saying water one dollar to everyone headed down. When I popped back out after several hours the same vendor looked at the exhausted woman beside me, then says water 20 million dollars. I think she would have paid it. After this tour and lunch at the hotel it was back to the ship for the second stop in Egypt. The second stop in Egypt was at Safaga in order to drive to Luxor. This is a very long trip through an even more desolate part of the eastern desert than earlier. Once more we were off in a convoy. In Luxor we only had time for a few of the main sites due to the length of the drive there and back. It did not help that for this stop as well as the previous stop in Egypt we had the talkative guide. These two guides were both very knowledgeable. The problem was they wanted to transmit all of this knowledge to us before letting us go see what they were talking about. They talked so much we never had enough time to see anything. All in all I do not recommend using Safaga to access Luxor. It just does not allow enough time. We did do everything the tour description indicated, but at a shortened time at each stop. The drive back was the most eerie part of the trip so far. We had to gather up all of the buses in a holding area before six in the evening as it seems they close the highway from Luxor to Safaga at least for tourist and it looked like commercial trucks at that time. On forming up it was off to Safaga. Especially in this part of Egypt I have never seen so many checkpoints. Most consists of small metal barricades that the traffic weaves through. At each one of these there is a group of either tourist police or what looks like members of a neighborhood crime watch as they are dressed in native costume. The police carry sidearms and sometimes rifles as well. The crime watch members each had a long gun strung over their shoulder. I am not sure what the Egyptians are afraid of. I am also not convinced that if trouble started these fellows would prove to be very effective. I must say though there are certainly plenty of them. The purpose of these checkpoints is not clear as at most of them no one checks anything. The police just stand there as the vehicles weave in and out of the barricades. The drive back was the oddest experience of all the odd experiences in Egypt. On leaving Luxor we were the first bus right after the small security truck that led the way. At first this was a small Chevrolet pickup with no one in the back. Later it was a beat up issan pickup with two rifle toting fellows in the back. I assume this was actually a Nissan with the N missing. From Luxor we proceeded from the green zone along the Nile out to the desert. Periodically we would pass the small neighborhood stops as well as more formal checkpoints. The formal checkpoints recorded our arrival. The point being to check us in and out of each section of the route. If trouble occurs they know where to send help. Now how fast and effective that help would be I do not know. As we moved further out in the desert things became odder and odder. For example, about halfway across the desert section two busses that had been behind us somewhere came flying past our bus which was first. They then proceeded to cut into place between us and the lead truck. Now if you are in a convoy going the same speed to the same place what is the point. The busses travel about 60 km an hour about ten feet from each other. After the two maniacs got settled into place we stopped for a while at a large checkpoint. The point to this was said to be to allow some other busses to catch-up. Catch-up? Were we not supposed to be in a convoy? So how did anyone fall behind? After waiting for a while the last bus appeared. According to some other passengers I talked to later at this stop we exchanged escort trucks. I could not see this as we were now the third bus in line. After we left this checkpoint a few miles out in the desert something flashed by the right side of our bus. The bus in front pulled out suddenly into the opposing lane. We sashayed slightly sideways after sliding along the sand at the edge of the road. After all of this bouncing around everyone formed back up and motored on. Our driver engaged in some discussion with the tour guide in Arabic. Later I was told we were not expected at the last checkpoint. Hum, I thought we were being checked in and out of each checkpoint? The escort had to be awakened for us to continue the trip. This appeared to irritate them. The result being he decided to proceed at a slower pace than the lead bus driver wanted to go. So the lead driver just ran him off the road and went on. The escort truck was what flashed by our right side as he was traveling down the sand shoulder of the road at that point having been runoff the road by the lead bus. Crazy Egyptians. We finally made it back to Safaga without further incident except on hitting the city limit all discipline in the convoy broke down. The drivers began to race to see who could get to the dock's checkpoint first. As I said crazy Egyptians. All in all I am not sure what to make of all of this tourist related security. It is certainly entertaining. I am just not certain how effective it is in either deterring attacks or in responding to one. Being a heavily armed Texan I would prefer to just pack my own firearms and watch out for myself. As we did not leave Egypt until the afternoon of the next day Mrs Paint Horse and I decided to try snorkeling in the Red Sea. We have done this quite a bit in the Caribbean. I must say the little we did in the Red Sea was better. The fish are everywhere as are interesting coral formations. Safaga itself offers nothing I can see to induce anyone to visit despite the interesting water. I was surprised to see several hotels on the beach. You could not pay me enough money to vacation in Safaga. Not only do you have to fly into Cairo you must then fly to Hurghada, and from there drive to Safaga. The water is nice, but not that nice. In summary Egypt was worth the short visit. However, Mrs Paint Horse and I do not appear to get along to well with this country. On arrival in Cairo my nose started running and itching. It continued this until we left. I assume I was allergic to the pollution. I have never seen such thick haze. On leaving Safaga I developed diarrhea and the Mrs Paint Horse a sinus infection. I have no idea where either one of these maladies came from. It is interesting to note that in the few blocks of the city we passed from the ship to the dive center we passed six pharmacies. It makes me wonder if they have a built-in business. When the ship left I was more than ready to go. Sea Day After the intensive number of ports visited at the beginning of this voyage it was thankfully time for three sea days as we transited through the Red Sea and on to Oman. The first sea day was spent recovering from Egypt. The only thing I did was write this trip report and attend a presentation on the security that would be in effect as we sailed through the Gulf of Aden. Regent arranged for a Royal Navy Commander to travel with us from Safaga. He held a talk on the state of the piracy problem in the area. His main point was if there was any danger to this ship, he would not have come aboard. As the route we traveled through the area is far from the trouble zone there is no reason for concern. Besides a cruise ship is an undesirable target for pirates. It travels too fast, the freeboard is too high, and there are way too many people to try to control. Besides if pirates actually succeeded in boarding a cruise ship holding some 1,500 passengers and crew every warship and aircraft in the region would surround them. The only security detail he would provide was to explain that the desired way to travel through the 26 hour danger zone is to group ships of like speed together. They then proceed as a mass. By the time they reach the main problem area all of the ships of various speeds end up together. In our case our speed is higher than any other ship so we proceeded at high-speed alone, but in the same area as everyone else. It was an interesting talk. Later in the day the ship's newsletter announced that access to the lower outside decks would be cutoff until we had passed the danger area. This was the only obvious security measure the ship took. This day also demonstrated the advantage to traveling by cruise ship. As mentioned above my wife came down with a bad case of sinusitis and I with a mild case of diarrhea. No doubt from merely being in Safaga. With a doctor onboard the ship it was a simple, but expensive, matter of treatment for both conditions. It is good these problems happened on the first of three sea days. A disadvantage of traveling by ship also appeared tonight when a massive amount of bubbles of some sort came boiling up out of the tub, shower, and bidet. Being on a ship in the middle of the Red Sea it is difficult to change rooms or hotels. All in all it was an exciting day I must say. Sea Day At breakfast on the second sea day I noticed the staff were serving the items on the buffet rather than the guests doing so. I learned later than there were now several cases of GI problems on board. This procedure along with a stronger sanitizing solution all over the ship was directed at stopping any spread of this. The plumber dropped by to clean out the pipes. The result was some but not much improvement in the bubbles in the bathroom. Sea Day The last sea day was spent in the Gulf of Aden. The number of ship sightings went way up. This must be a busy place. Some ships passed us going west while we passed other slower vessels headed east. We also picked up a naval escort which stayed just off our stern for several hours. Right before dark as we were exited the Gulf of Aden a military helicopter circled us several times. It then hovered off the port side so everyone could take a photograph. I assume this was to prove to us that the military was on the job. Salalah After three sea days the next stop was the first of two in Oman. This first stop was in Salalah at the southern end of Oman. This is basically a container port city. We docked at the far end of the container port. As the ship was late in arriving, we have an Italian captain you see, the tour of the city was somewhat abbreviated. The main point was to get an overview of the city. For this tour we visited the museum. This provided a look at the history of Oman both on land and sea. We also stopped at a fruit and vegetable market, as well as a souk. The main point to the souk visit was to buy frankincense. Oman is a new tourist stop. As such there is not much infrastructure for visitors just yet. The city leaves a very good impression on one however. Sea Day As it is six hundred miles to the next Oman stop at Muscat a sea day is required. Most of this day was spent reading and doing research for an article on wireless Internet access onboard ships. Muscat Muscat is a very nice city. As tourism in Oman is new there is also little infrastructure for tourist here. But the city is certainly worth a visit. At a minimum one should visit the Grand Mosque. This tour allows you to tour the entire site including inside the worship areas. There is also a museum that discusses the history of Oman similar to the one in Salalah. The souk near the waterfront is one of the more interesting ones we visited in the Middle East. It has the winding closed in look one expects of this type of market. Of course most of the things for sale are junk, but it is interesting nevertheless. Overall Oman is the cleanest, best run country we visited. It is an excellent example of how well a country can function when it has a benevolent despot as the head of the country. Dubai The last stop was Dubai. This is a much larger city than I thought it would be. We docked at the far end of the city in an industrial area. As it is very hazy photographs are difficult to take here. The ship stayed docked overnight after arriving about 2 pm. As we were to disembark the next day the first task was to pack the eight bags we brought onboard two weeks ago. After the repacking we took the ship provided shuttle to the Mall of the Emirates. This is now the second largest mall in the UAE. This is indeed a massive place. Inside is a sky slope. After buying several pieces of junk it was back to the ship. On the next day we left the ship. In between leaving the ship and boarding the DXB to LHR flight we toured Dubai with a tour guide. This high speed tour went from one end of the city to the other. Stops included an excellent museum in the old section, a ride on a water taxi, strolls through the spice and jewelry souks, drives though the main sections of the city, lunch at KFC, and a stop at the Atlantis hotel for a visit to the aquarium. English and American Culture At each stop I was amazed at how pervasive the English language and American culture are. In many of the countries English is more widely spoken than the native language due to the large number of immigrants. An example of the use of English and American culture was the lunch stop in Dubai at the KFC. The menu is in English with only a few Arabic subtitles. Ordering is done entirely in English. This was true to some extent or the other in every country we visited. DXB to LHR The flight from DXB to LHR was to be in F in the nose of a BA 747 in seats 2A and 3A. The only problem with the flight was the revised departure time from 2 to 3 am. Yes, 3 am in the morning. As the tour of Dubai ended at 6 pm I arranged to stay and eat dinner at a hotel. The Park Hyatt although lower in cost than most hotels I looked at in Dubai proved to be very nice, except for the lack of light. This seems to be a trend in hotel design. We arrived after dark. The hotel lobby was dark. All of the hallways were dark. In many cases the only light was provided by candles. The room was very dark as there are no overhead lights. Just dim lamps. The room itself was odd as well. On checking in the desk clerk stated we had been upgraded to a spa room. This room proved to be a slightly larger room with a spa table near the door. Beside the spa table was a sink which made sense. However, on the other side of the room was another sink. This one was between the desk and the window. Now what the purpose of it was is beyond me. In addition the shower could have held at least ten people standing or sitting on the bench that went all the way around the walls of the shower. I would certainly stay at this Hyatt again, but only if I pack several lanterns. The view from the room faced the creek that separates the city. We ate at the restaurant on site. This is the Cafe Arabesque. It features selections from several Middle Eastern countries. The food is very well prepared. At the airport things began to deteriorate. First I find that at DXB one submits their own bags for the security check. This meant maneuvering all eight bags through a long line to a scanner machine. Once there you must place each one on the conveyor. Then after the scan each bags must be loaded back up for the trip to the check in desk. Quite odd. At the check in desk I showed the agent the paper showing both the BA and the AA flights on the same record. He seemed a little uncertain about checking the bags all the way through to DFW, but he managed to produce a label with LHR and DFW both on it. He even issued the AA boarding passes. The next step was to walk from the check in desk, inside a secured area remember, to the gate while passing yourself and the carryon bags through not one, but three security checks in different parts of the terminal. At the last one the scanner operator objected to the sharp points on the 3/8ths inch long blades on the cuticle scissors I have passed through various airports with for years. Now what someone would do with cuticle scissors is beyond me. After walking for miles we arrived at the BA lounge which is also several miles past the gate for the flight. This must be one of the most dismal lounges in the BA system. It is small. No one cleans the tables off. But most of all it is way too crowded. Once at the gate when they called the flight to begin boarding I found that the entire population of the back of the aircraft was composed of gate lice as they paid no attention to the loading order. Once onboard I found another excellent BA crew including a CSD who introduced herself to everyone in the F cabin. As this was a 3 am in the morning flight all I did was wait for takeoff, then change clothes to sleep. Sleep I did on an aircraft for once. I did not eat on awakening as the plan was to wait until the Arrivals Lounge in T5 was reached. I was pleased to actually arrive at a gate instead of a remote stand requiring a bus. However, I had noticed that the terminal building seemed somewhat small. Sure enough we had arrived at T5B. The journey to T5 required a train ride. This was short and easy. Once in T5 proper the next step was to find the Arrivals Lounge. This turned out to require a trip through Border Control as the lounge is outside the secured area. The officer at the desk was quite alright with our six hour visit to the United Kingdom. The Arrivals Lounge was located with a couple of more questions of various staff members I accosted. Breakfast was soon served inside the Concorde Dining Room. While small it is nicer than the plastic tables and chairs in the main eating area. After breakfast we tried out various chairs in the lounge while waiting for time to move on to T3. LHR to DFW The return flight from LHR to DFW was on AA as the BA flight was full for some strange reason. On Sundays AA has two flights within a few hours of each other. The first one is three class service on a 777. The second one is two class on a 767. I do not know why they run two so different flights. After sitting for a few hours in the Arrivals Lounge in T5 it was time to navigate to T3. Not knowing how long it would take I allowed two hours. The method suggested by the BA staff in the lounge was to take the Heathrow Express. This is a subway. On arriving at the station we were directed to the front of the train as we were to get off at Heathrow Central. The ride was free, and only took a few minutes. The only trick is to be sure you get off at the first stop. Otherwise you will find yourself at Paddington Station in London. On arriving at the central station I assumed we would board another train. You do not. Instead there is a lengthy hike from the station up to the outside of T3. This is quite a walk. On arriving outside T3 the sign boards provide direction to which section of the building to go to for the airline of interest. In this case it was B for AA. In Section B the AA gates are 1-42. I could only find one very, very busy security area. As we walked past the extremely long line I spotted a Fast Track section. This line was about 1/20th the length of the other line. Despite the complaints I have found the BAA security staff to be very helpful. More so than the US staff. In this case we managed to have an oversized bottle confiscated, a watch run through by itself, and myself patted down and wanded. I told my wife the bottle was twice the acceptable size. Nevertheless she tried sneaking it through. If they had not shifted the staff around just as we approached it would have worked. Unfortunately the Sikh gentleman was more observant than his predecessor. I set of the detector as I forgot to remove a watch from my pocket. This resulted in a pat down and wanding. Just to be thorough they ran the watch through the scanner by itself. The pat down was proper but quite comprehensive shall we say. I must say for all of the abuse of the BAA staff I have read on FT in all cases the BAA staff at LHR could not have been more friendly or helpful. For example, Mrs Paint Horse is quit worn out. I should have traded her in long ago. She has a bad back and bad knees among other problems. Walking is difficult at times. A cane helps somewhat. As we traversed the marathon to gate 42 she asked a BA staff member if a cart ride could be arranged. She explained that they did not do that. It was another agency, in other words BAA. She did ask a BAA staff member walking by if they would take us to the gate, which they did. The AA flight also required a procedure I had not seen before. All of the passengers were required to check in at the gate desk even if you already had the boarding pass. This was required at least in our case in order to have the bags loaded on the aircraft. Gate lice were not in evidence at LHR. After boarding we once again found ourselves on a full AA flight. Despite reading this morning that AA has lost quite a bit of money in the latest quarter once again we found a completely full flight. At ten hours this is the longest flight I have been on. I was somewhat concerned at spending this time in a J seat, but I found the current J seats to be just fine for this daylight flight. I understand that there not being fully flat some find sleeping in them to be difficult. As I did not sleep they were fine. The flight was also made more pleasant by the best crew I have ever seen on any aircraft from the beginning of time to date. The purser in particular was friendly, funny, and informative. Although a J class cabin was the highest on this flight the crew served the lunch and before landing snack from the galley course by course, even using a blue tablecloth over the seat tray. The food was of course airline food, but not bad. Desert was the famous sundae. After lunch they dimmed the cabin for those who wanted to sleep such as Mrs Paint Horse. Following my adjust to the arrival city time to avoid jet lag plan I treated this as daytime for the whole way. As we droned on the cabin crew made numerous checks through the cabin. They even enforced the use the lavatory in your own section rule. Quite a good crew. The arrival at DFW brought once more new experience. On leaving the aircraft I found that one clears customs and border control with the declaration form then you must proceed to collect the bags for one more screening. This once again meant hauling all eight bags from the baggage claim to the outside world. Sure enough despite my concern not only did the bags arrive, but so did the car service. At last we were back home. I do believe the thing I missed most was being able to get a full glass of ice with someone looking at me as if I were crazy. It must be a Texas thing as we are always hot you see. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2009
As a frequent traveler on REGENT we still do not comprehend what has happened... everything has changed, what was great before.. now is mediocre. Read my notes and just to be clear... you are warned. After traveling for 23 hours from our ... Read More
As a frequent traveler on REGENT we still do not comprehend what has happened... everything has changed, what was great before.. now is mediocre. Read my notes and just to be clear... you are warned. After traveling for 23 hours from our home to Dubai and finally boarding the beautiful Regent Voyager- my wife and I were greeted with this: "Have you heard the news? We have been contacting all the passengers ahead of time (nobody contacted us, on the contrary, I e-mailed and called them several times with some questions, and nobody ever answered back my e-mails or calls), we have a LITTLE problem. The Ship is BROKEN it's one of the Pods and we are giving you 3 choices: (1) getting off and flying back home at their expense; (2) going on the Regent Mariner leaving 7 or 8 days after on a completely different route or (3) staying on with the unfortunate difference of not going to many of the ports scheduled in exchange of receiving 50% refund. Note: They promised to fly us back home at the end of the trip the same way we had planned, ie. Business Class- but we had to show them proof- needless to say, after presenting the Business receipts and anxiously waiting for 6-7 days for our return flight information, they booked us on Coach- When I called to inquiry the answer was: SO SORRY- BUT I AM NOT A TRAVEL AGENT! ugh! After complaining and waiting 4 more days in limbo, we finally received the e-ticket information on Business- that is how I planned originally. Since we had planned this cruise for 6 months- we decided to stay on board. Our first Cabin 1058- located in the aft section of the ship was unacceptable with loud motor vibrations. After 2 days, we changed rooms to 1025 and then we were fine. We still do not understand what has happened to the food quality of this ship. Nothing like it used to be. One day, we ordered crudities from room service- the blue cheese dip was spoiled. Crackers from another cheese tray were rancid. On two occasions we ordered pizza both from the room service and at the Veranda- and it was horrible. It was so bad in fact- that I called the Chef and asked him how he could serve such a dried out, tasteless pizza with artificial non tasting cheese? His answer, " We have a problem in the kitchen with the oven". Then I said to my wife that explains the reason why most of the breads in the buffet were raw on the inside. If for example you order a Tuna Fish sandwich without celery- you can be sure it WILL have celery. If you order a turkey sandwich- the turkey is pressed- never fresh- that takes me to the most important complaint of all. THE FISH- my wife and I eat fish regularly, from all the meals- we had only two decent fish plates. All the fish were from frozen. Served luke warm, over cooked and tough without any seasoning. Just disgusting. The menus at Compass Rose read beautifully, but then you do not get what was described. A vegetable appetizer might have a miniscule slice of asparagus as THE vegetable, then other ingredients like chopped egg that are not mentioned in the menu. Tuna flakes means "canned" tuna. The Matzo Ball Chicken soup can be a beef consomme with a "raw in the middle" tiny matzo ball the size of an eye ball. Desserts- mostly tasteless gelatinous concoctions made with poor quality ingredients and over ripe fruit. The two more "gourmet" restaurants Prime 7 and Signatures- we also not good. Not even worth mentioning- but you can see several tables returning their dishes for others. What bothered me most about these two restaurants- they require reservations- I tried making reservations several times and was told that they were completely booked- I passed by them several times on different evenings around 8 p.m. and there were always empty tables- which does not surprise me since we only had approximately 300 passenger on the entire ship; so why were no reservations available? The attitude the two receptionist on deck 5 have towards us passengers also merits mention. The look of "Why are you bothering me with stupid questions?" is all I have left to say. The SPA- overpriced Manicures & Pedicures, tiny Sauna & Steam Rooms that fit no more than 2 tight at a time and very little staff- All of the above and more have convinced us that we will NEVER EVER travel on Regent again- I do not pay my good earned money to get Surprises! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
First lets get the nearly obvious out of the way. The really all inclusive is the only way to go! The crew really get to know you, the service, the wine, the food, the decor, all top notch as I'm sure you assume. The line has a great ... Read More
First lets get the nearly obvious out of the way. The really all inclusive is the only way to go! The crew really get to know you, the service, the wine, the food, the decor, all top notch as I'm sure you assume. The line has a great Crew to passenger ratio, with tons of empty space all over the place. Our cruise was 100% booked and with a long waiting list and yet we could take a walk around at night and not see a single other couple on the deck. Our Cruise was from Athens Greece to Dubai UAE. This was the trip of a lifetime, and the very first time this ship was in the middle east. For being the first time at all these ports every kink was well worked out ahead of time, and the middle east is no easy place to have everything go so smooth. With the extreme Volatility in the region, we still felt very safe and secure. The boat had several different defenses against modern pirates and we received a military escort that was never more than 20mins away at all times. The safety and well being of each and every passenger really is the ships #1 concern and it shows. The Cabins were spacious and they nearly all have a balcony. The beds were a great vacation for my back as well! Now on to the few things I was not so impressed about, and yes, it took me quite a while to think of anything to even speak of. As nearly every reviewer already stated, yes, there is quite a bit of vibration on the ship. This didn't effect us while sleeping though, but was a little annoying at times when eating on the higher decks. So to start off, the pool and Jacuzzis closed much too early each night. There really is no reason to close them at 7 or 8 pm. Most nights they even drained them and put nets over them. This not only took away from the aesthetics of the pool deck area but we heard several people say that they missed being able to take an after dinner dip in the pool or relax in the Jacuzzi, not in the heat of the mid day sun. I'm sure there's some insurance reason behind closing them, but it was very disappointing to see that the passengers were not trusted to swim once the sun went down. Now onto the TVs. All rooms have Movies on demand at no charge. Slightly tricky at first to figure out, I don't think we realized we even had this feature until about the 10th day! The quality of the movies was all DVD quality. BUT and this is a big but... whoever handles the Audio/Video on the boat should be at the very least, made to take some sort of course to learn what they are doing. Any special recordings or video interviews on the boat were just plain laughably horrible. Most of the color was green. For example, I watched the presidential debate live via satellite in the lounge and in my room. Than for the next day it was played back to back on one of the channels, but now in absolutely horrible quality. It was like watching a copy of a copy of a copy of someone who recorded the debate with a camcorder pointed at a TV. and than add some bright green and now you've got what it looks like. I have no idea why no one that works on the ship let this go on like this. We poked fun about this with several other passengers several times on our voyage. And this can't be blamed on the Satellite, because it came in perfect the first time. While we were in our mid to late 40's we felt like the real youngins on the ship. I'd have to say that on our voyage the average passenger age was 70. which was just plain higher than what we were led to believe. This is no cruise for a family with children, or for that newlywed couple... well unless your on say your 3rd marriage that is! But truth be told we met some amazing other couples on the boat. We enjoyed the company of so many people. We were just shocked by how friendly everyone was. As you talk to everyone throughout your stay you start to find out that nearly everyone on the boat this is now on average there 5th, 6th, even 8th time back with Regent. That alone speaks all for itself! There is certainly a reason why once you go Regent you never go back! I like to keep a healthy lifestyle and the ship had an excellent fitness center, stocked with 4 or 5 treadmills, cycling machines, all with flat screen TVs, free weights, and many machines. Also both a walking and a running path on the decks. Shuffleboard, golf, and a pool you can swim laps in. The menus each night also featured low carb, vegetarian, low salt, and simple dishes in addition to the regular menu, so staying healthy was easy to do thankfully. The Compass Rose was actually so much better than The Portofino. But that was mostly due to the Portofino having a authentic middle Eastern menu since that was where we were. But whatever restaurant you choose there is no waiting, a table is always free just for you. The music on board was just a 6 out of 10. It's all a little Corny and you can tell everyone singing just couldn't cut in in the industry and just settled on a cruise ship. I would've rather heard some violins, than heard the almost Disney like music acts that were there. We also would've like to have heard a little more Sinatra songs. Shore excursions were all decent. We set up many of our own things since we could set up some of the same exact excursions at 1/2 the price. This was our first cruise with Regent and we have certainly found our cruise line to call our own. We look forward to our next cruise in the near future. Read Less
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