The newest and mid-size regent ship; all-suite, all-inclusive, gourmet cuisine, excellent itinerariesBest For People Who Want
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Crazy mainstream cruise activities, singing waiters, bingo, managing your onboard expenses on a daily basisOnboard Experience
Aiming to attract well-heeled and well-traveled non-cruisers under 60, Regent Seven Seas has designed Voyager, its second all-suite, all-balcony ship, as a floating hotel, with inconceivably spacious standard suites and four brilliant restaurants in which passengers dine when they like, and with whom.
This is by no means to suggest that the line has turned its back on those who prefer a more traditional cruise experience. The ship features such traditional onboard activities as a casino and showy theatrical productions. There are two formal nights, complete with a welcome (and, then, farewell) reception hosted by the captain, trivia contests, arts and crafts, fitness classes and even bocce tournaments.Decor
Seven Seas Voyager is compact enough to be easy to navigate, yet spacious enough to offer seclusion any time of day. Deck four is the center of activity, featuring the Compass Rose Restaurant, Constellation Theater, Voyager Nightclub and the Casino. On Deck Five forward is the shore excursion desk and the purser's office. Midships to aft brings alternative restaurants Latitudes and Signatures, and the second showroom - Horizon Lounge. Deck six houses the library and Spa. On Deck 12 the Observation Lounge offers fabulous vistas through three walls of windows.
Some good news is that Seven Seas Voyager offers well-equipped complimentary self-serve laundry rooms on each level of passenger cabins. The bad news is that they seem to bring out the worst in some passengers, who actually spend time they could be enjoying in ports of call staking out washing machines.Cuisine
Gourmet cuisine throughout - the food on Reegent has improved greatly since about 2010 when the company was acquired by the same company that owns Oceania Cruises.
Complimentary red and white wine flows at all restaurants at dinner, with selections corresponding to the menus' regional themes.
Twenty-four-hour room service is consistently prompt and pleasant. At dinner, you can order course-by-course from the Compass Rose menu.Restaurants
Compass Rose, the main dining room, serves all three meals, concentrating at dinner on such traditional favorites as lamb chops, Beef Wellington and lobster. There are also three alternative menus -- the Judith Jackson Health Menu, a vegetarian selection that accommodates lacto and ovo-vegetarians, and an always-available "simplicity" selection like sirloin steak, boneless chicken breast, or salmon filet.
Signatures, the ship's ritziest eatery (jackets always required), features a set menu designed by an offshoot of Le Cordon Bleu, the prestigious French culinary institution. This is the place to celebrate that extra-special occasion.
The Latitudes Restaurant's whimsically decorated dining room seats just 72 passengers, and is typically booked for the week by 6 p.m. on the day of embarkation. Its menu, which changes every night, features the cuisine of such disparate regions as Napa Valley and New York state. There is just one seating, at 7:30 p.m., for which passengers line up at the door to be seated in turn. There are tables for two, though in some cases strangers are asked to share bigger tables.
No extra fee is charged to passengers who dine at either of these two alternative restaurants.
Open for breakfast and lunch, La Veranda, ostensibly the ship's buffet eatery, is buffet on a very high level indeed, ranging from the very innovative (the tangy fruit salsa) to the very familiar (salads, omelets). In the evenings, La Veranda is transformed with lighting and festively colored tablecloths into a full-service eatery with a tapes bar (with items ranging from buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes to tapanade) and dessert buffet.Service
From the moment a white-gloved steward warmly greets you as you board, and then escorts you personally to your cabin, you're apt to feel as much a guest on a friend's private yacht than a paying customer. The staff makes a point of quickly learning every passenger's name and preferences. The servers in the restaurants are so knowledgeable about the food and wine they serve; you can't help but imagine they've actually tasted them.Tipping
Regent Seven Seas asserts pretty unambiguously that "gratuities are included in your cruise fare," but passengers should nonetheless feel free to tip for special efforts and services (such as the butler).Entertainment
Each night there is one main event in the gorgeous Constellation Theater ranging from "Caesar to Mussolini," a dramatic history and art lecture, to the produced-for-Voyager "On A Classical Note," featuring singing and dancing to opera and Gershwin, to "Lullaby of Broadway" and "Oh, What a Night."
Elsewhere, the Horizon Lounge, the secondary venue, has a nice dance floor on which to cut the rug to the strains of the Voyager Five Orchestra. The Voyager, the ship's disco, features edgier tunes (and karaoke). The Connoisseur Club has leather chairs, a fake fireplace, and a lot of cigar smoke. The low-key Observation Lounge after dinner features a Celtic-inspired harpist and pianist.
Because the itinerary is typically port-intensive, daytime activities are relatively skimpy. There is a daily middlebrow "popcorn classic" movie ("Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," that sort of thing), bridge, and golf putting.Cabins
There are nothing but suites on this ship, the smallest being an incredibly spacious 356 square ft. There's a (relatively) separate living area with a coffee table that converts to a dining table, and beds that convert from twin to king, lovely marble bathrooms with separate tub and shower, in-cabin DVD players, large-screen televisions, and mini-fridges that are stocked daily - and complimentarily - with juice, soda and mixer; all passengers receive a complimentary one-time alcohol set-up. Balconies are compact, but comfortable in spite of the chairs being plastic. Four suites are wheelchair-accessible; some can accommodate three.
Passengers who book the "Penthouse Suite" and beyond (this includes the Seven Seas, Voyager, Grand and, topping out at 1,403 square feet, the Master Suite) are attended by butlers, who book reservations at restaurants both at sea and on land, oversee special requests, and deliver a daily plate of cocktail-hour hors d'oeuvres.Fitness/Spa
RSSC was so pleased with Carita of Paris's spa on Paul Gauguin that it got Carita to go fleet wide. The fitness room is under decorated and a bit dismal, but does offer the usual machines. There's a separate room for workout classes, which include yoga, abs stretches, and gymnastic ball stretching and the like.
The ship has one pool, flanked by two Jacuzzis. Even on a gorgeous sunny afternoon at sea you can be assured of finding a deck chair in the not-gorgeous pool area. You can jog on he top-most deck, or play paddle tennis, shuffleboard, or even bocce.Children's Facilities
none to speak ofAttire
On the one formal night per cruise, an unusually high percentage of passengers really do wear formal attire. At all other times, you can't go wrong in country club casual, day and night.
My wife and I have enjoyed nine cruises with Regent Seven Seas cruises. We booked a cruise for November 2012, starting in Cairo, and traversing the Red Sea, to Jordan, Oman, then through the Straits of Hormuz to Dubai, Abu Dabi, ending up in Mumbai, India.
With the turmoil and US attacks in the middle east, I contacted Regent, where the agent told me that they had contacted their local agents, and there was no risk. We were afraid that it would take only one deranged terrorist to blow up a bus filled with hated Americans, but the agent informed us that Regent saw no risk, and the cruise would continue as planned. We cancelled, forfeiting over $20,000. A letter to Mark Conroy, President of Regent has had no reply or acknowledgment. I do know of several similar cruise itineraries on other lines that have been changed, but Regent continues to put it's passengers at risk. I expected better.
I have enjoyed reading the reviews of the other August/ Baltic travelers. And in an effort not to simply repeat, I will note that I mostly agree with the comments offered. The ship is lovely even if not visually spectacular and one very quickly feels comfortable. Cabins & their service are excellent. Staff is professional & personable.
I concur that the cuisine should be, as Emeril would shout, kicked up a notch both in variety and preparation; presentation was restaurant quality. Where we became unhappy campers was vis a vis the entertainment which we found to be disconcert-ingly weak both in shows and lounges. We enjoy dancing pre/post dinner, but found 'a piano' rather uninspiring and unexciting. The hair salon,by Carita, is highly priced for unexceptional talent.
Considering the luxury experience and the six-star rating it advertises and considering the high prices it charges, we expected only the best from Radisson (now Regent) for this two-week Asia cruise (and had enjoyed ourselves very much on two prior, one-week RSSC Mariner cruises). Flaws that can be accepted from mass-market cruise lines should be rare on a luxury line. When measured against these standards, on the whole, RSSC and Voyager did not measure up. While many aspects of the cruise met at least a five-star standard and some were six-star, the overall cruise did not provide a truly luxury cruise experience. The overwhelming shortcomings to this cruise were the senior on-board hotel staff, the arbitrary changes to an exciting itinerary, and the inconsistent dining.
Let's start with what I expected. A cruise line (or anyone else) should provide the product advertised. While some "puffery" is normal, and while there can be quibbling over the quality of any aspect of a cruise, the product as a whole should measure up to the advertising. On a "luxury" cruise, that means (a) consistently excellent continental cuisine, (b) a responsive staff prepared to provide a luxuryexperience at all levels and to deal with problems quickly and professionally; (c) modern and clean staterooms, (c) well-appointed public areas; (d) unobtrusive service; (e) high quality lecturers, activities, and musical programs; (f) efficient boarding, cabins ready at embarkation; (g) no lining up and waiting for tenders, etc. Where I have not commented here, this ship and line met those expectations fully (e.g., cleanliness, efficient and easy boarding, quality of cabin stewardess, etc.).
The Positive about this cruise.
(1) This ship. It is well-designed, new, clean, comfortable, quite attractive, and generally well-maintained. It is very much in the mold of the new cruise ships (multi-story atrium, etc.). The cabins are unusually large and well designed, including a walk-in closet. Cabins below the penthouse level are larger and more comfortable than similar accommodations on other lines. The public spaces are attractive and, with a couple of minor exceptions, comfortable and functional.
(2) The junior staff (waiters, room stewardesses, bar attendants, etc.) were competent, pleasant, and sufficiently conversant in English (staffing changes in the last few months may have put these into question). They generally knew what they were doing and worked hard to please. The maintenance staff likewise seemed generally competent, although several requests for repairs (including a ventilation problem) went unanswered for more than 24 hours.
(3) The Tour Office staff. The three people did an outstanding job of handling ship's tours and private tour arrangements, with unfailing good humor, efficiency, and accuracy. This was particularly difficult in the face of a constantly changing itinerary (see below).
(4) Single seating dining and open seating dining are big pluses. They provide relaxed, enjoyable dining. While passengers seem to settle in to an individual table after a day or two (a few of them did try to lay claim to window tables), it is nice to have the option of sitting where you want and with whom you want. Service is usually well-paced and there is no pressure to finish so that the next seating can be set up.
(5) The inclusion of wine in the dining room in the cruise price is a welcome touch. No chit to sign every night. (The downside, one waiter confided, is that the policy of including wine and drinks seems to consistently attract a certain type of passenger who overdoes the alcohol, especially on cruises of less than 14 days. We did see a few such instances.)
(6) The port lecturer.
(7) Latitudes Restaurant. It was too small and crowded for the number of passengers they seated the one night I was able to eat there. This is an almost trivial comment because - although contrived - the theme concept was very well carried-out. The credit for that goes to the exuberant, young, and completely charming serving staff. They made us feel like they were putting on a private theme dinner party for a group of close friends, that they really cared that it be a complete success, and that they did everything possible to make it so. The food, too, was very enjoyable. This was one of the few occasions on this cruise that I felt that I was having a truly good time and that the cruise line really wanted me to have that good time.
(8) The advertised itinerary for this trip, Singapore to Tokyo, segments of the 2004 world cruise (actually the Circle Pacific Cruise), was exciting and enticing.
The Negative:(1) RSSC chose to disregard that exciting itinerary. One port (Hong Kong) was extended by a day, two port days were changed altogether, two port stops were shortened (one of them by about 12 hours and one by about 5), and one stop was eliminated altogether. (One additional port was missed because of bad weather.) There were no weather problems or terrorism concerns to justify any one of those unexplained changes.
Passenger questions/complaints about these changes were given short shrift by senior staff. As one senior official in the hotel department said to me when I asked what was going on with the schedule, and this is a direct quote, "We can do whatever we want."
While the schedule changes were bad enough, RSSC compounded the problem. Several of the changes were decided by RSSC management days in advance (including changing of two port days), but none of them were announced until the last minute. As a result, several passengers missed out some on private sight-seeing that they had arranged.
When RSSC elected not to deliver the cruise it advertised, we deserved two things. First, we deserved prompt notification of the changes. Second, we deserved a clear and compelling explanation for divergence from the schedule or some form of restitution and/or apology. RSSC provided neither.
(2) Senior staff problems and attitudes were not limited to the attitude about the schedule. I heard that several of the senior staff on the hotel side were newly promoted. It appeared that several of them neither knew nor were prepared for their new jobs and at least one did not seem to care. Senior hotel staff members were not respected by junior staff, although junior staff members were clearly terrified of several of them. Senior staff was generally inaccessible - no response to phone messages, not in their offices or on deck, etc.; the only time that the Hotel Manager's office door was ever open were the days that the President of the company was on board. This is also true on land. RSSC's customer relations person in Florida did not return any one of my four post-cruise telephone calls.
(3) The overall impression was that the ship was not run with passenger satisfaction as the goal, but rather that it was run for the convenience of management. (Note that I did not have this impression of RSSC on prior cruises). This is the first and only cruise on which I felt that I was merely along for the ride.
(4) Dining room food quality and service were inconsistent, lurching from very good to excellent at some meals to mediocre at others. Some nights the dining room was excellent in all respects but, on just as many other nights, it was no better than "good" overall. There were too many lapses, some main dishes were tasteless, particularly fish and poultry (tasteless grilled salmon one night). Oddly, the dining room was consistently better at lunch than at dinner. The service on several nights was painfully slow - 25 minutes wait for the order to be taken one night with no head waiter or maitre d' in sight and bickering waiters another night. While an occasional mistake or oversight is to be expected, the mistakes were too frequent for a luxury cruise and the ship was no more than about 60 percent full during this segment.
(5) Of the two nights I ate in Signatures Restaurant, one night was truly very good. The food was very well-prepared, attractively and attentively presented, and service was perfect. The food on the other night, unfortunately, even with the identical menu, arrived bland and overcooked.
(6) There is far too much vibration on this new ship, particularly in the aft portion when the ship is trying to go fast (above about 20 knots). It was unfortunately very noticeable in my cabin. It took four days of requests to be moved to a vacant cabin of the same category. Several other passengers also said that they asked to be moved because of it. Once again, when I first asked what was happening and whether the problem would be fixed or whether we could be moved, the same senior staff member simply dismissed me: "All ships vibrate." The bottom line is simple, if you go on the Voyager, do not get a cabin in the aft portion of the ship.
(7) The art auctions. The quality of the "art" was poor (aside from there being just too many mediocre prints of famous pictures) and was too "mass market." It clutters up, cheapens, and detracts from otherwise enjoyable and usable public spaces. Please, let's get rid of art auctions . . . and not just on this ship and this line.
(8) Entertainment. Maddeningly inconsistent. The Broadway reviews, comedians, etc. were interchangeable with any other line. The music at the shows was always too loud. There was one very fine classical performer.
SUMMARY. A very mixed cruise experience. Those things that were done well were exactly as one would expect from a luxury line and exactly as the advertising would lead you to believe it would be done. However, they were overshadowed by the negative. Inconsistent dining is just not a part of luxury cruising. Itinerary changes where necessary because of weather or security and when reasonably announced in advance, on the other hand, are a part of cruising. However, the arbitrary changes to this cruise, compounded by the disdainful attitude of the senior staff and management on this and other issues, was just unacceptable.