Myself and my partner took a 21 day cruise from Singapore to Dubai in April/May 2016. We had not travelled on Regent Seven Seas previously, but have travelled several times on other cruise lines, such as Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal, so ... Read More
Myself and my partner took a 21 day cruise from Singapore to Dubai in April/May 2016. We had not travelled on Regent Seven Seas previously, but have travelled several times on other cruise lines, such as Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal, so we were in a good position make the comparison.
In summary, if Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal are in the 9+ out of 10 category, Regent Seven Seas Voyager was a 7. Regent certainly is higher end/all inclusive cruising, but in my experience, fell well short of the other cruise lines in several areas.
The ship itself looks very stylish, but once onboard, you can’t help but notice that it has seen better days and elements are in need of a refurbishment. I know that this is scheduled for later this year, but that doesn’t do anything to improve the experience that we had on board. I guess I was little confused, because I had understood that all the public areas had been previously updated, but really, I would only consider that the bars and dining venues had seen any sort of refresh, excepting La Veranda, which looks in need of a refresh. The cabins, hallways etc are a bit tired. We had a Penthouse - A suite and although I thought the configuration was quite good, the furniture and fit out was old and showed the signs of wear and tear.
The swimming and spa pools are outdated and show signs of wear and tear and previous patch ups. Take the golf driving net for example, there is one net and a odd assortment of old golf irons, most which happened to be left handed for some reason, so there was very few right handed clubs to use. Either have a facility or don’t, but equip it properly if you do. The gym and fitness facilities were a huge disappointment and I can’t emphasise that enough. A modern well equipped gym is an important part of enjoying a cruise for us and many travellers and the equipment was positively ancient (I believe around 12 years old) and elements were continually breaking down. There were 5 cross trainers originally, one had been removed before our cruise started, then another goes out of order early on in the cruise and was removed and then a week later, another goes out of order. It was only when I complained after several days, that cross trainer was repaired. Hence down to 3 machines only from 5 originally, which is totally inadequate for the size of this ship. There are 4 treadmills, one was continually not working properly. Some of the TV screens constantly had issues, i.e. would not switch on, no sound etc. The Sauna and Steam rooms are both tiny. The sauna is old and not in great condition - switched itself off and needed to be reset several times.
We had a Penthouse - A suite, which came with a Butler service. Give credit, where credit is due, our Butler and the chamber staff were exceptional, as good, if not better than any other cruise line we have travelled.
The dining onboard is nowhere near the quality of the other cruise lines I mentioned, unless you are visiting the two specialty restaurants (Prime 7 and Signatures). The breakfast and lunch buffet in La Veranda is not as appealing and well presented as the other cruise lines I mentioned. A pretty basic selection which gets picked over quickly and not replenished fast enough. Some of the fruit at breakfast is tinned fruit rather than a fresh selection. At the mid cruise survey, I commented on the service levels and received a call from one of the senior wait staff to tell me that they realised this and had added more staff at the last port and were “training” them. I must say that this seemed to improve somewhat during the cruise. I assume that the ship was pretty full and hence, at busy lunch times in La Verandah, lots of people would descend on the dining venue. So it was normal to find difficulty in locating a table to sit, yet there were vacated tables that had not been cleared. In the evening, half of the lunch buffet restaurant becomes an Italian restaurant. You cannot make bookings, so it is on a first come first served basis which can make getting a table an issue, although I would say that the staff in that restaurant were the best on the ship and the Maitre'd was excellent and went out of his way to accomodate us on several occasions.
But the fact remains that unless you were able to get a booking at one of the specialty restaurants, which is restricted to basically twice per voyage over each 7 days, you end up in Compass Rose, which is the main dining room. The restaurant itself is very nice and classy and I assume recently refurbished, but when you look at the complete offering (food and service), it is a 7 out of 10, when Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal are 9 or 10 out of 10. Most of our dining experiences there had issues, with cold food, tough steaks, lack of seasoning etc etc. Again, I would say this improved somewhat during the cruise, but the staff did seem a bit run off their feet, it took a long time after seating to get service for wine and menus etc. It was not a great dining experience and nowhere near the class of the other cruise lines. The other guests we traveled with and “the laundry room chatter” shared similar sentiments.
On Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal, there is a real focus by the staff to get to know your name and preferences. There is not the same feel on Regent, although some staff did make an effort. On the other cruise lines, within a very short period of time, the staff are identifying and greeting you, by name in many cases, if you go to the bar in the evening, more often than not, they would present you with your favourite drink without even asking. Canapés are served around by the staff. On Regent, they leave a plate at the end of the bar, with potato chips, peanuts and a few hors-d’oeuvres and not much else and when it was empty, that is it. On the other cruise lines, sitting up to the bar is a fun experience and a great way to connect with fellow guests. On Regent, the Horizon bar is like a public bar, with the staff running around like mad trying to fill orders, with empty bottles and cans not always cleared away. I just can’t emphasise enough the glaring differences. On Regent, the pool dining is only available during the day for breakfast and lunch. On Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal, there are casual dining options available in the evening. On a long cruise, sometimes it is nice to step away from the more formal dining and have a casual meal. This is not an option on Regent.
I would also comment on the breakfast times. The venues close at 10am latest, as does room service. There is a casual coffee shop open all day, but in the mornings, this was very crowded, usually impossible to get a seat. I think there is a clear message there that people want a breakfast option later than 10am. On the other cruise lines, room service was 24 hours, so in-room dining was always an option. Crystal keep one venue open for late risers.
I was surprised about the entertainment offerings. In the Horizon Lounge, rather than having a regular ensemble playing background music, they swapped it around continually and at times, it was way too loud and it didn’t last long. We would often get down around 7pm to commence our evening and it was either finishing or had finished. In the Observation Lounge, the entertainment is a pianist. Not everyone wants to go to dinner at 7pm.
When we were booking this cruise, the itinerary sounded great, picking up a couple of ports in Asia and then onto to India and the Middle East. What you obviously need to pay attention to is the ports themselves. The first port was Kuala Lumpur, which is actually Klang, about 90 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur itself. In Phuket, we docked on the East Coast, miles from anywhere. So unless you are taking tours, there is nothing to see or do. Then probably the worst was the visit to Myanmar. The port was in the middle of nowhere, overlooking this wasteland of brown water and nothingness. The city of Yangon was 90 minutes away over bone crunching roads. So like us, most people I spoke to took one 5 hour tour over 2 and half days. We were going to take a second tour to a dinner and cultural show, but 90 minutes each way and eating outside in mid 30 celsius temperature and 90+% humidity was not at all appealing. I was expecting the fact that we were in port for two nights, it surely would have been close to the actual city, so that looking around and getting to the sights would have been easy, i.e. like in Ho Chih Minh city. The next part of the cruise, was 3 and a half days at sea travelling to Cochin, India. So that meant that we were only onshore for 5 hours, in 5 and half days. I don’t think that is good planning. We could easily have skipped Mangalore, India as a port, Goa was quite good (again the port is a long way from the city), Mumbai was the pick of India and a great port. All the ports in the Middle East were well worth the visit and the ports themselves were much closer to the cities or sights.
Finally, the luggage management. We were required to have our luggage packed and outside our suite door by 10pm. We were independent travellers making our own arrangements in Dubai. We were told to vacate our suites by 8am and be off the ship no later than 9am. The ship arrived in port at around 5am. We left the ship at about 8.15am. Most of the luggage was just sitting on the dock as we descended the gangway. Some luggage was already in the collection area. On other cruise ships, the luggage has always been offloaded and ready for collection when you leave the ship, even early morning. Lets face it, this was already 10 hours after we handed it over and almost 4 hours since we docked. So we kept waiting and waiting and although luggage kept coming off at a snails pace, it wasn’t until we complained, that one of the staff went in search of our bags and we were able to leave the port around 9.15am.
When you pay top dollar for these luxury, all inclusive cruises, you expect great facilities, great food and great service. I can’t say that Regent lived up to our expectations on any of those dimensions. Read Less