Wanted to try a high end cruise to see if Regent was better than my other cruises -- in a word, Regent is far below their competitors. In the past six years I did an Alaska cruise on Celebrity. I had an aft cabin and we had our own ... Read More
Wanted to try a high end cruise to see if Regent was better than my other cruises -- in a word, Regent is far below their competitors. In the past six years I did an Alaska cruise on Celebrity. I had an aft cabin and we had our own restaurant (Blu). All meals were ala carte, served fresh, hot and delicious. The price, as I recall for a 9-night cruise (instead of the 11 on this sailing) was about a third of Regent's price. Then I did two European river cruises on Avalon. Of course there is a much smaller number of guests on a river cruise, but every meal had a half dozen of ala carte meals, paired with very good wine.
This brings us to our Regent Mariner experience. First of all, the pros. The ship was exceptionally clean, the staff was very friendly, the cabin was nice, unless you sleep on the left side of the bed like I did. If you get up to use the loo in the middle of the night, always remember that there is a wall facing you about 10 inches from your bed! There is a great Coffee Connection place where they served liquored coffee drinks and snacks, enjoyed that immensely.
Now, one of the main things you go on a cruise for is good food, right? Overall, the restaurants were a major disappointment. The two "specialty" restaurants, Prime 7 and Chartreuse, were only made available one time during an 11-day cruise. Big mistake by Regent. We did eat there twice after going to see the concierge but they make you wait until 8:30, much later than we like to dine.
Prime 7 was a disappointment. I had their signature dish, the surf and turf. I don't know if the beef was supposed to be prime or not, but it was just OK, certainly not memorable. The lobster was gummy and tasteless. My wife had the Alaskan king crab legs. The portion was generous but the crab was served absolutely lukewarm and had no flavoring at all. When I make crab, I use Zatarain spices so that the seafood has some flavor. Regent's food seemed like they deliberately cook everything to be bland. Of course their customers are mostly old, and it's like they want to avoid upset stomachs. By far one of the MAIN complaints about this cruise was the wine selection that was offered. That night they were serving "Josh" cabernet, which anyone can buy for about $8-$10. For what I paid for this cruise I was expecting $40-$50 type wine. For cocktails, Regent's bars were stocked with high end spirits, but they went EXTREMELY cheap on wine. Given their profit margin on their cruises this was a total disgrace. They claimed that the chef used this "pairing" to complement the food. The only thing that this wine could complement is a cold baloney sandwich. I use better wine than Josh (and the white equivalent they served that night) when I make my homemade spaghetti sauce. I made the waiter get me a French red (medium body) that was only slightly better.
Another area where Regent goes wrong is the total lack of ambience is the two specialty restaurants. They are very sterile, and look like a chopped off half ballroom at a Marriott in Tulsa, OK. (Sorry, Tulsa). They have a very good piano player (Nick) who is playing to a mostly empty room on the way to the restaurants. Why don't they pipe in the music to the restaurants? I felt like I was eating at a nursing home, no atmosphere at all and mediocre food.
At Chartreuse, the experience was better, the food was prepared better but again the wine selection was less than stellar. We had a great waitress (Zenife --she said call her Jennifer). She had a great personality and was the most outstanding waitperson we had on the cruise.
Throughout this cruise, the food was often served lukewarm, and it was this night as well. I never had a hot meal the entire 11 nights, that is simply terrible. Their kitchen to customer wait time is simply too long. There were many times when I saw my food sitting on the service table, getting cold, before the waiter or waitress could get back to the station to serve the dinner. The servers were running around like crazy, so the problem was not them. Management need to put more people in the food preparation/serving process. I hate cold or lukewarm food, and that's all I got.
I tried the Italian restaurant one night --this is the buffet converted to and Italian themed restaurant at night. You still have to get your own salad and dessert. The food here was blah and I never went back.
That left a LOT of nights dining at the Compass Rose restaurant. The service in this place was wildly inconsistent. Sometimes you would get an attentive, personable waiter who seemed to care about your dinner. Other times not so much. This is an example -- we both ordered coffee after dinner. The waiter brought out TWO bowls of sugar, but no cups or coffee. Ten minutes went by -- I clocked it --- then he brought two cups and saucers. Again, no coffee. Another 10 minutes -- I clocked it-- he finally brought coffee. He apologized and said that the coffee just finished brewing. 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee --- really???
One night in the Compass Rose I had lamb chops with simple mint jelly. The food was again lukewarm and tasteless. When I make lamb at home I used onion and garlic powder, olive oil, and other seasonings. Again, nursing home food. I had a side of Lyonnaise potatoes. This was brought out after the entree and the potatoes were ICE COLD, not even the lukewarm I was used to. Other meals I ate were better (dover sole was tasty).
I received a mid-cruise comment card and I shared the opinions I've laid out here. I received calls from several chefs and I explained the complaint about the blandness and temperature of the food. They tripped over themselves apologizing but things never improved. The best thing about Compass Rose was that they made fresh souflees at night. Finally something warm and usually delicious. Went there every night for dessert, no matter where I ate.
The Mariner desperately needs another restaurant. On at least one of their sister ships they have a Pan-Asian restaurant. They just renovated the Mariner about a year and a half ago and why they didn't put another restaurant in, I'll never know. The worst thing is that they are going to use the Mariner for a half-year sailing next year. If you made me eat the food I had for that long, I would go insane. I am somewhat of a foodie, and this was the worst overall food experience I've ever had on a cruise. Add the terrible wine, and I felt that the value of this cruise was horribly, negatively skewed.
Entertainment --- Sort of typical. They had a 12 person group of singers or dancers, backed by a house band. The band was good, and after they show they played at the Horizon lounge. Good listening and dancing music. The 12 person group was so-so... lots of energy but short on talent. A dark haired woman could really sing, but the rest were just ok. The first night they did a tribute to the Rat Pack, which is my kind of music. They just didn't have the voices or talent to pull it off. One of the lead male singers was singing the famous Sinatra song "One for my Baby". I literally could hear Frank turning over in his grave (just kidding, I think). There was a good female entertainer who did 2 shows and a comedian was pretty good. The rest was blah.
The cruise seemed to be sort of disorganized in some spots. On the day we went to the glacier, it was midday. Everyone was out to look at the glacier and the viewing ended at about 2 p.m. when most restaurants (Compass Rose) closed, except for the buffet. Everyone went up there and unfortunately they ran out of food. It took 45 minutes to get a hamburger made. On that day, why not keep the other restaurants open later. Just poor basic management. Another warning -- there is a little sitting area around where the grill is located. The smell and smoke in that enclosed area seemed toxic to me --- couldn't wait to get out of there. There are so many suggestions where sound management principles could improve the customer experience. Again, this is not a 3 day Carnival cruise. Regent should be ashamed. Better yet, hire me as a management consultant!
By far the biggest complaint I have (besides everything mentioned here) is their utter disregard for their customers in it's refund policy on unused shipboard credits. The main reason I went on this cruise was to go on the glacier hike. I had a total on $1400 in shipboard credits. Apparently $1000 was "nonrefundable" credit and the rest was cash.
The glacier hike was $806 for both go us. We get to the pier and they tell us that the tour was canceled due to poor visibility. I was totally bummed but understand that they can't control the weather. I called reception and was told that I had to use the non-refundable credits onboard. We had a slip in the room that said we had these credits and that the could be used "for cash advances or casino credits". I tried to get them to refund the money back to my credit card and they said it had to be spent on the ship. Furthermore they would NOT let us use it in the casino, despite what their card indicated. I was absolutely livid. It was too late in the trip to use it for any other decent paid exclusion. We wound up spending almost $700 for a cheap watch and some wildly overpriced costume jewelry. My wife asked of the earrings were silver, and was told they were. She is allergic to any other metal. They apparently were made of some other cheap alloy, and now she can't wear them. Another lie from Regent. They should have willingly paid back the unused credit in cash, as their own card states. Terrible management.
As I said in the beginning my expectations were very high due to the high price I paid for this cruise. Regent simply did not deliver and if you are reading this before you book, just don't spend the extra money to travel on this cruise line. It isn't worth it. They have lost a customer for life. Read Less