I have previously had 9 cruise experiences with Fred Olsen, Princess, Celebrity, and Azamara over the last 9 years; all very enjoyable in their own way and using conventional star ratings I would place these progressively in the range 3.5 ... Read More
I have previously had 9 cruise experiences with Fred Olsen, Princess, Celebrity, and Azamara over the last 9 years; all very enjoyable in their own way and using conventional star ratings I would place these progressively in the range 3.5 to 4.5.
I jumped at the chance to travel on Regent Navigator from San Francisco to Alaska to Vancouver because it ticked so many boxes never having visited those parts and never having done a “six star cruise”. Included excursions, premium drinks and speciality dining sounded good although presumably we pay for these in the cruise price. What then would be the six star added value items? Before setting off I resolved that it would be anything that elicited a “wow” response.
Before getting into detail I must say that this was probably my favourite cruise experience to date. Decent weather in a tranquil early season Alaska devoid of other cruise ships obviously helped but credit is due to the included excursion programme which was of good quality.
1) The Ship.
It has the potential to wow with very large well fitted suites and for a smaller ship decent entertainment and activities. It is spacious and, a first for me, I did not have to queue or scramble for a seat anywhere in the entire cruise.
However it has some current practical issues to contend with including vibration which has already been well-reported. Two other things stood out for me. Firstly a general lack of freshness in the décor and fittings not least in the bathrooms where the tiling looks as if it needed attention some time ago. Secondly the Connoisseurs Club for brandy and cigars; amend this to read Indoor Smoking Room which is a non-sealed and non-extracted room located midships adjacent to other public areas and a main stairwell.
2) The Food.
Prime 7 was very good as was La Verandah buffet for breakfast and lunch. The main Compass Rose restaurant produced food marginally better than my previous cruises but not enough to elevate it to fine dining. It tickled me to see that even in a “six star” environment the waiting staff would still try the trick of ordering and taking delivery of consecutive hot courses leaving one to stand whilst you ate the first.
3) Premium Drinks.
These seemed to be freely available in all areas other than wine with meals where the standard was fair but far from premium. For the latter you have to pay a very substantial supplement. The situation was exacerbated by two things. Firstly there was no list of what standard wines were available; they like to offer a different wine each night but you are free to ask for anything else if only you knew what there was. Secondly, and linked to this, the waiters and some sommeliers were unable to articulate what wines they had. More than once I was told they did not carry the wine I had had the previous evening.
4) Service on Board.
Service standards were no better or worse that my other cruise experiences. The exceptions were negative. The bars were lightly staffed resulting in delays particularly at peak times.
The waiting staff had a tendency either by accident or design to serve you with a similar drink to what you ordered if an open bottle of the former was more easily available e.g. champagne / sparkling wine.
The bar staff could not make a gin and tonic unless you like a bucket of gin in a bucket of ice topped with flat tonic. OK you say ask for what you want. I did but the waiter struggled to comprehend a request for a G&T with a sensible amount of gin, a little ice and fresh tonic. I should add that they use 33cl cans of mixer so there is a good chance your mixer may have been standing open for a while.
5) Overall Cruise Management
The flight arrangements, airport greet and transfer, managing people on and off the boat were all excellent and of a higher standard than previously experienced.
The let-down, having been assured pre-cruise we would be looked after on disembarkation day as the included flight did not depart till 9pm, was that we were dropped off at the airport 9 hours before flight departure. To a minor extent this also involved the Regent shore side contractor not delivering on what Regent promised.
So, sorry Regent, whilst there were some good and indeed excellent features I did not experience any wow moments. However, as most if not all the concerns mentioned above (and also by others during the cruise I would add) are capable of resolution there is no reason why that could not change in the future. Maybe the planned refit will deal with some. My rating for this cruise is 4.5 stars. Read Less