We were on Regent's 11-day cruise around the British Isles, aboard their newest ship, the 700 passenger Explorer. First time on Regent - our previous cruises had been on Seabourn, a close competitor in the luxury cruise market. Sailed in and out of Southampton. Overall, a great experience, in spite of having to put up with rainy days in several ports and losing one port due to bad weather. The Explorer is advertised as the most luxurious cruise ship ever built. Think of it as a Las Vegas hotel - the decor is heavy on glitz and glimmer.
On board, the experience is similar to traveling with Seabourn - spacious cabins (we had a F2 room), attentive service, great food, decent entertainment. Unlike Seabourn, the shore excursions were included (along with Business Class air). The tours were all excellent - Regent does an excellent job of lining up quality local tour guides. We especially enjoyed the choices available for dinner - besides the large main dining room, the Explorer offers 4 other specialty restaurants - Italian, French, Steak and Asia (the later three required reservations). While the main dining room seemed a step down from Seabourn, the three reservation-only restaurants were terrific. And occasionally, they were open for lunch without reservations - a nice treat!
One can always quibble about something or other - here are my complaints:
- Disembarkment for port excursions - at the start of the cruise, you get tickets for all the excursions you've signed up for. The day of, you are required to go down to the theatre and exchange your ticket for a numbered pass and then wait around for your group number to be called. This was terribly annoying and far from a first-class experience. On Seabourn, you just walk off the ship at the time your excursion is scheduled.
- No outdoor viewing areas at the front of the ship - as someone who takes a lot of pictures during a trip, this was quite annoying. Whomever thought this was a good design should check out the Seabourn ships, which have 3 levels of outdoor viewing areas at the front of the ship.
- Cabin seating - there are spots for 3 people to sit in the cabins - two on the sofa and on chair. So if you want to invite another couple to your room for drinks or a movie, you are out of luck. By comparison, Seabourn's cabins have seating for four.
In spite of my complaints, I would book another cruise on the Regent Explorer for the right itinerary.