Wes, you can stand by your comments, as can Marc, but I must respond as follows...and I think it is imperative for all to consider when dealing with those that profess absolute knowledge based solely on personal experience of one or two cruises a year:
An individual's opinions are necessarily skewed. It is not those that the cruise lines know will make comment on message boards whose comments are the most significant because the cruise lines are going to kiss their butts to make sure there are positive comments.
(And let me be perfectly clear, I ask that it not be done to me - unsuccessfully - because I know the goal is to make my experience equally more above the bar than the average guest.)
Time after time I hear how Regent (or fill in any cruise line) is so wonderful on message boards...but almost always from the usual suspects or those that have moved up from mass market lines. While I am sure they had a great time, it is not a true measure for me as to whether the cruise line provided what the cruise line promises. (Seriously, we can all have a great time despite all but the worst of calamities.)
I take into account my observations, observations of others on the cruises, input from clients and others that write me about their personal experiences, inside information from cruise lines and experience on 30+ cruises on many lines...not a limited number of cruises or lines. And, to be sure, that experience allows for truly seeing changes from initial discussion to implimentation...or unplanned. [Note: I get comments from people down to issues with the color of caulking, 30 minute changes in alternative dining times, getting a bottle of wine delivered (stewardess vs. room service), how wine is poured, etc.]
You might think it relevant that if NCL provides what a supposed luxury line provides calling it "luxury" is not, in fact, "luxury". If service levels on Regent as at or below that I have found on Celebrity then it is not "luxury"...BUT if you have never been on Celebrity or NCL when opining on Regent's "excellent" service what is the measure? If you haven't been on Seabourn how can you compare Regent's service or cuisine? It takes more than being on a
ship once in a while.
When the luxury cruise lines tell me my critical observations are spot on and they read my blog for my opinions and analysis, a single cruiser's opinion as to whether my comments are valid are respected, but truly discounted...and that single cruiser believes he is right to discount mine.;-)
I don't need to spend a week on the Silver Spirit to accurately report what Wes and others have reported. Nor do I deny there are those that disagree with Wes. But my experience allows me to weigh and balance the divergent opinions and reports.
I don't need to be on Regent for a FOURTH time to accurately report the declines that its own management has admitted exist and need to be addressed...and undeniably have been frustrated in implementing. (Seriously, why would I waste my time and/or money?
Establish the improvements, let the reports show it sticks and then it may be a reason to revisit the ship.)
At this point you may be asking, "Why is it about Iamboatman?" Alas, it isn't. The point actually is: Whomever posts, let the individual's opinions be what they are. Disagree with facts, not attacks. Provide contrasts rather than blasts. For in the end, this sort of downward slide provides no one - no one - with useful information.