We were in the lower, non-balcony, suites. Other than the balcony they are essentially identical. Others we met, who have either been on multiple Regent cruises or who were first-timers, were equally pleased with their balcony and butlered suites. The beds were comfortable and the linens were very good. If you want nitpicking criticisms: My son complained about his pillow being too soft and we had a few thread-bare towels; neither of which otherwise would have been commented on. I really don’t think there is any issue at all with the suites.
Keeping in mind the huge marketing of “The Regent Experience”, and that Regent is calling itself a 6 star line, here are a few of the misses (BTW, I cannot tell you how many of the staff – from the bottom up – commented how they disliked the Navigator compared to the Diamond, so much is not directed at the on board staff, but home office planning, operations and/or directives.):
Dinner – If you went to dinner by 7:30 pm you probably did not have any problems, but if you liked to dine late (8:30 or later) you found yourself waiting for 15-45 minutes for a table. By then the pressures were well on the staff (who may well have been part of the problem with the inability to turn over tables) and the service was more of “OK, what do you want” than polished service.
One evening we asked for 3 espressos, 1 vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and 1 cheese plate. We received 1 cup of coffee…then vanilla ice cream…then 5 minutes later chocolate sauce…then as we gave up on the espressos and cheese, the cheese trolley arrived. We politely declined and left. The waiter was genuinely sorry, but that is not really the point.
It was so bad (and acknowledged by the Hotel Director as such) that one evening we were celebrating our friend’s 25th wedding anniversary and I went to the dining room early to arrange for a bottle of Cristal to be at the table when we sat. I said “Just give me a time, as we know the problem with late seatings.” I was told 8:45 pm. Well, we arrived and there was nothing. Eventually we were, of necessity, sat by the kitchen and then the Cristal did not arrive. When I reminded them, it came, but all the other glasses stayed on the table and they kept asking if we wanted white or red, but we couldn’t get the champagne poured! So we tried to laugh it off – with our view of, and noise from, the kitchen – but it was typical of the service and frustrating. (Oh, they charged the $250 for the bottle with no apology.)
We ate at Portofino twice and enjoyed both nights. The service and food was excellent. The “show” is much different and more subdued from what
was on the Diamond, but still lots of fun and a great alternative to the main restaurant.
Service?? – After our day in Cadiz four of us just sat by the pool and watched the sea and sunset as we left port. We could not get drinks served as it was after 6, so we brought beers up from our suites. Then we didn’t want to deal with the dining room (see above) so we called room service to bring 4 hamburgers (I swear that was all) to the pool deck. They said they could not because it was a public area. OK, then bring them to my suite, but when can I expect them. They did not know because the kitchen was busy with dinner, but it would be more than 30 minutes. To Regent’s credit, I then went down to the dining room and it was immediately taken care of. However, for those that say Regent is on a par with Seabourn or Silversea, that is clear evidence of an embarrassing inability to do the simple things. Heck, drinks should have been offered and 4 hamburgers presented without issue. What made no sense to me is that there is a “policy” of not serving the area even with the minimal services we would have liked once the grill and bar closes. Burgers and beer on a plastic tray is not huge request on a line marketed as 6 star.
Liquor Pricing – NOTE: Regent Seven Seas is now liquor inclusive. This was, frankly, outrageous. I have no problem paying for a drink and expect to pay for quite a few drinks for myself and others on a cruise. However, the pouring of a measured shot of whiskey or charging $15 for two tiny glasses of white wine by the pool (not full sized wine glasses) is a bit much. How about charging $4.50 for a virgin pina colada?
In the “You Won’t Believe This” category, after we finished our above-mentioned hamburgers we had half a bottle of wine left, so we took it
into the Galileo lounge to watch the Newly Not So Newly Wed Game. Within seconds I was approached and told I would have to pay a corkage fee. I declined and was approached again. I just said, “Please talk to Miki. He delivered the wine to me.” There was a lot of head-shaking on that one!
Port Problem 1 – One great disappointment was that the evening before we were to arrive in Bordeaux it was announced that we would not make Bordeaux Friday evening, but would arrive Saturday morning. The rumor was that it was a problem with the tides. Please, tide charts exist and do so for years in advance. So our specially pre-made dinner plans in Bordeaux were nixed. No apologies were ever given.
Port Problem 2 – I guess partially my fault for not researching it enough, but the days certain ports were reached just didn’t make much sense. Santander was a short day and, as it was Sunday much of everything was closed and would remain closed even later. (We did find two nice tapas bars later in the day). It was an important public holiday when we arrived in Lisbon, so it was pretty much a ghost town. (I was on an Ensemble Travel tour to Sintra which was fantastic, so I lucked out.) Barcelona was a 7am to 3pm short day and as nothing (and I mean nothing) opens before 10am, it was a very rushed time. (We did have a great – though too fast – lunch at Los Caracoles though.) I won’t bore you with the details, but making it a better timed cruise would not have been that difficult…especially after missing out on the Bordeaux evening.
Tour Problem 1 – We signed up for a Tour of the Medoc with a Visit to Château Mouton Rothschild and its world famous museum for $84. I arrived on board to tour tickets for a Tour of the Medoc with a visit to a Château for $125, so I checked with the tour desk and, yes, it was all in order for Mouton Rothschild. OK, I will pay the extra since a wine tasting at a second growth Château is included. So we board the bus and when we were well out of range of the ship they announce we are not going to Mouton Rothschild…and the wine tasting is at a third growth vineyard! Complaints were furious and the response was a discount to $84! What?, that was what I was to pay to go to Mouton Rothchild! (Eventually I had the entire amount refunded…on the last evening of the cruise…because I took the time to explain how important MR was in my plans.)
Tour Problem 2 – We signed up for the Andalusian horses, which did not include the show, but did include “you will assist at a rehearsal of the famous Andalusian Horse Dance show”. Instead, you were dropped off at seats in the show arena and told we could watch the horses for 10 minutes. OK, that sounds all right…but that was it (save a quick look at the stalls and tack room). No participation in anything. Not even an explanation of what the horses were doing!
Concerning the tours, this is clearly a “home office” issue as the tours are arranged from there, not the ship. The tour staff of Theo and Anne were excellent. (Jim, the manager, was not). I never had a problem with a Regent tour before, but these problems were fundamental to the tours; not mere
changes. It was, to my mind, like “bait and switch”: Make the tours sound luxurious, but in reality know that they were nothing special. It helps sell
the cruise and the tour. This needs a serious look.
Also, we had a much better experience with the Cadiz tour. (I believe there were 2 buses for this.) Our tour guide was funny and informative. He originally didn’t give us any time for the shop, but I asked and he consented to it. (And, as you were there, I was the guy whose family held everything up buying the statues and tennis shirts…and kept apologizing to everyone because I felt like we took over the single sales clerk). I felt our Tio Pepe tour was actually quite good and our guide was charming. We felt the same about the sweet sherry!
Ship Generally – I have heard about the vibration on Navigator and thought it was probably overstated. It is not. Many areas cannot be used as they would logically be because the vibrations are so strong. In the Galileo bar aft, you can literally watch and listen to the bar flex as it vibrates! Additionally, many of the public areas are just not well laid out and the frustration is readily noted by staff and entertainers. Hopefully with the soon to be dry docking the tiredness and awkwardness of some of the areas will be addressed.
Overall, the service was heads and shoulders better than on the Mariner last summer, save the nightly disasters in the dining room. The food was also far superior. The tour issues and port timings are not caused by those on board, but the home office. The little things like serving a hamburger need to be tended to. As for the problems with the ship, as seemed to be the mantra on board, “It just isn’t the Diamond.”
I think the biggest thing is that Regent should not market what it cannot deliver. There were just too many misses and disappointments. I would think twice before I booked Navigator again.