This was our first trip on Regent, and we were very pleased that it was on their newest ship. We are Oceania cruisers, which will probably always be our first choice. However we picked this one because we wanted to see as much as possible of Iceland and Greenland, and Regent's itin made three stops in both countries, which was the most I could find on any cruise line. It was a fabulous trip, and met all of our expectations. It's an under-appreciated part of the world.
The ship is beautiful. Loved the artwork around the Explorer. Both Oceania and Regent have figured out how to hire the right people....to a person, they were friendly and helpful.
Our F-1 Superior Suite was spacious, with lots of storage space and a large bathroom with dual sinks, and a separate tub and shower. On Oceania we usually book a Concierge level cabin; this one was the equivalent. Regent doesn't have a Concierge lounge like Oceania has on their larger ships, which my husband has enjoyed in the early morning before I'm ready to go for the day.
The onboard lecturer was excellent...I think Regent hires from a Smithsonian group of lecturers. He was a good speaker, as well as knowing his stuff.
Our favorite part was never having to sign for anything...it's already been paid for upfront. Although I must admit putting the final payment on the credit card did make my heart beat a little faster!
The food was good; both my hubby and I think Oceania's food is a little bit better. But the restaurants are lovely, with excellent menus, and delightful staff. We enjoyed not having to order and pay for wine with dinner...there were always many choices. Oceania is famous for their Gelato choices. Regent has The Creamery at the buffet near the pool, but it falls quite short by comparison. (The first 4 choices were always vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and neopolitian. Come on...you can do better than that!)
Most of the 'free' shore excursions were 2-4 hours. I usually would prefer longer shore excursions, and on Oceania we often make plans for independent shore excursions with other passengers via the Cruise Critic Roll Calls, mainly because Oceania's excursions are rediculously over-priced. But in this part of the world where the ports have small populations, there aren't a lot of choices. So we were happy with the ship's excursions in this case. I probably wouldn't have been if we had cruised the Med. The average age of the passengers seemed to be in the upper 70's or older, and maybe they are perfectly happy with shorter tours!
As on most smaller ships, the entertainment isn't as lavish or as extensive as it is on the big ships. That's not a problem for us; I love the shows with the singers and dancers, and my husband graciously accompanies me. We avoid magicians like the plague. We've probably missed some good ones! I think we attended four shows on the 15 day trip.
We stayed four more nights in Reyjavik after disembarkation, which I would highly recommend. It's a marvelous city, with lots to see and do, including day trips out of the city. (Take piles of money...Iceland is an expensive destination! Credit cards were accepted everyplace, including the taxis.)
It's difficult for me to understand how anyone could complain about this ship. It's pure luxury! But some people are just more difficult to please. Overall, it was a fabulous experience.