This is our 7th cruise on Regent, the first being in 2009. Several recent reviews have noted that they felt that the Regent experience is declining. With a few relatively minor exceptions, which I will detail below, my wife and I do not feel that this is the case. We have greatly enjoyed every one of our Regent cruises, this one being one of the better ones.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Could not have been better. We arrived at the pier at 12 noon, and at approximately 12:15 we were enjoying our first cocktail on the pool deck. We were told that rooms would be available at 2:30, and at 2:30 on the dot, an announcement was made that rooms were ready. Luggage was delivered minutes later. For disembarkation, we filled in a form asking what time we would like to disembark, (between 8 and 9), and were given the appropriate luggage tags. We were advised that we could walk off the ship at the time we requested, no announcements needed. Luggage was ready, and off we went.
Cuisine: We found the food on this cruise to be as good or perhaps better than ever. The breakfast and lunch buffets provide a wide assortment to choose from. At breakfast, you can order a hot dish brought fresh to your table. At lunch, there is freshly made pasta as well as a meat carving every day in addition to very tasty hot and cold buffet items. Dinners were (almost) always consistently good in the main dining room, Compass Rose, and in the 3 specialty restaurants. The only exception, strangely enough, was the lobster, which my wife ordered twice, once in the specialty restaurant, Prime 7, and once in Compass Rose, and both times she thought was tough and chewy. We greatly enjoyed all of our other meals. Meats were prepared as ordered, and tender. Fish dishes were moist and flavorful. There is a suggested included red and white wine each night, but if you don’t care for the ones listed, you can request something else. We always are able to find a white and red that we like among the included wines, and we ask the sommelier for these each night, if we don’t care for the listed ones.
Entertainment- People tend to either enjoy cruise ship entertainment, or they don’t . We do. And we found the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers to be superb performers. There is a ballroom specialty couple, who are amazing, and an acrobatic/dance couple, who are able to do things with their bodies that no human being should have any right to be able to do. They were mesmerizing. There were 2 specialty performers, a guitarist who was great, and a violin player/ comedian who we were not crazy about, but was somewhat entertaining.
Service- Here, I think a case can be made that Regent is slipping, just a tad, in this respect: we had the impression that there were fewer crew members staffing the buffets and in the lounges. So in the past, it was typical that once you had your plate of buffet food, there would be someone ready and eager to bring it to your table, and on this cruise, this happened only occasionally. At breakfast, we would often have to flag down someone to have our coffee cup refilled. In the lounges, it is less likely that the servers would remember our favorite drinks. For us, these are minor issues, and did not impact our cruise experience at all, but for those that find these things important, they should be aware.
Excursions: Regent is one of the few cruise lines that include excursions in the cruise fare. As a result, the great majority of passengers sign up for ship excursions. This creates a bit of a challenge for the Destinations Services desk, to have such a high percentage of passengers taking the ship excursions. When Regent first started this policy several years ago, we found the process to be rather chaotic, sometimes resulting in long delays in getting excursions underway. We did not find that to be the case on this trip, as we found things to be very well organized. We would arrive at the theater at the appointed time, and hand in our excursion tickets in exchange for a bus ticket. Within a few minutes, our number would be called, and we would be on our way. There were a few minor delays, but each time, the staff would keep us informed about the reason for the delay, (i.e. a gangplank problem) and keep us updated. The excursions themselves varied in quality, ranging from fair to excellent, most we thought were quite good.
Enrichment: Regent recently introduced the “Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys” program, which provides experts in various topics related to the destination to give lectures. In our opinion, Regent made a mistake here. When I go on a cruise, I want to learn about the ports I will be visiting, the history, culture, architecture, cuisine, important sites to visit, etc. Ancient texts and archaic languages? Not so much. But that is what we got. The speaker was very well informed about his topics, and was a good speaker, but I felt that I was not given information that could have truly enriched my port visits.
Stateroom: Regent’s standard cabins are more than adequate for our needs, and by far the largest standard cabin of any cruise ship we have been on. There is plenty of storage space, nice walk in closet, nice bathroom with separate large tub and shower (the Mariner being the exception). Our cabin attendant kept our cabin immaculate, and provided us with whatever we needed.
Internet: We all know that Internet service on cruise ships stinks. On this cruise, it stunk less than most. For the most part, I was able to connect from pretty much anywhere on the ship, and the speed appeared to be turtle-paced as opposed to snail-paced, which, of course, is a bit faster.
Fellow Passengers: Regent attracts, to be sure, an older clientele. Just about everyone we encountered were well traveled, friendly, happy, and thoroughly enjoying their cruise. Almost all were repeat Regent customers.
My wife and I look forward to future cruises on Regent, and have booked a cruise on their new ship, the Seven Seas Explorer for next fall.