My thanks to one of my clients Denise Burkett-Stus for allowing me publish her fantastic review of a recent cruise onboard Regent Seven Seas Navigator to share with you. It sounds like a truly amazing experience from start to finish, and has certainly left me wanting to try the Regent Seven Seas experience for myself!
Well here I am at Istanbul airport reflecting on what has been an amazingly fantastic holiday. I am going to talk about the first day to give first impressions, blast through the rest of the 2 weeks and then give my summary – enjoy……
It all started on Thursday 5th August – when we departed the UK from the new terminal 5 to Nice, we arrived at around 8.00pm and were swiftly taken by taxi to the Radisson close by. We overnighted there, and waited with anticipation to board our Regent cruise the following morning. At midday a taxi took us along the cost road to Monte Carlo to board the Seven Seas Navigator. Upon arrival at the port, we were whisked into the port area, bags were taken immediately from the cab and we did not see them again until we got into our suite. We were taken through to a departure lounge where our passports were looked at, and directed straight onto the ship, where we were greeted with a glass of champagne and directed to the check in area, which was in the Compass Rose restaurant, check in was really easy and we were greeted like old friends by the lovely Cody – one of the entertainment team on board.
We were then directed up to lunch in the Portofino Grill, which was a buffet affair, with every type of seafood you could think of, as well as a salad bar, carvery station, pasta bar, and hot food selection. We collected our food and a waiter then took our plates from us, and escorted us to a white table clothed table, complete with silver cutlery and beautiful glasses, and were asked what we wanted to drink – champagne was the order of the day – so I had a glass – the first of many that day!
After lunch we went for a quick explore – the pool deck was close by and laid out with beautiful sun loungers, complete with pillows and towels, and a table in between each one – no having to launch oneself on a bed here LOL – they were beautifully spaced out, and it did not at any time feel crowded during the entire cruise (even on a sea day). The Bar waiters were around constantly asking if we wanted our drinks freshened up – note no signing as everything was included. The champagne was extremely good that afternoon, as were the Strawberry Daiquiris and Martinis!! We then met some American ladies and their families who I had “made friends with online” , and became firm friends, having dinner with them most evenings.
At 2.30pm it was announced that the suites were ready (note to self I really must stop calling them cabins!) – we had booked a Penthouse Suite on deck 11, which was 301 square feet plus balcony – it was beautifully appointed, the bathroom was huge for a cruise ship and included a separate shower and bath. There was also a true walk in wardrobe which also houses the safe plus lots of drawer space, and the cabin itself had the biggest double bed, dressing table and stool, as well as 3 seater settee (which converted to a single bed for Jack), desk area, 32 inch plasma TV with a selection of 283 movies on demand – including latest releases like Marley and Me and the Changling. The balcony has 2 very comfortable chairs and a table. Also waiting for us was a bottle of chilled champagne in ice bucket with 2 glasses, plus a fridge filled with beers, wine and sodas. There was also a tray of fresh fruit which restocked daily. We also had the services of a butler – Felix, who came along and introduced himself to us, he offered to press that evenings clothes for us and told us to use him as much as possible, as he would be delivering room service, booking restaurants etc etc for us. He also delivered a selection of canapés to us each evening at 5.00pm, and was apparently “English Butler” trained. We then spent the afternoon unpacking – drinking yet more champagne, and attending the sail away party, where waiters tempted us with canapés of lobster, caviar etc., and yet more champagne and cocktails. At some point we did the life boat drill – but it’s a bit of a blur, and then at 6.30 – we had a “Block Party” – this is where everybody from the cabins along your corridor (there are about 14) brings a glass out and the butlers poor wine, and bring more canapés, and you can introduce yourself to your neighbours! The Captain and Cruise Director make a brief appearance to introduce themselves, and it lasted for about half an hour – a great way to meet new people.
Dinner that night was an extravagance and consisted of a choice of 4 starters, a choice of 3 soups, 2 salads, 3 pasta dishes, one sorbet, 8 main courses, (which always included streak, salmon or chicken), plus 7 deserts, cheese, coffee and petit fours. The first night we were polite and only ordered 3 courses, the following nights after dining with our American friends, we ordered all courses and sometimes 2 if we wanted to try something (we didn’t eat everything, but wanted to try them!!) (I am a stone heavier mind you!!). Each evening there was a choice of red and white wines – all being very good – one of particular note was a Peter Lehman Shiraz which was very good, and if you did not like what was offered, you could request something else – again everything was included and my wine glass was never allowed to empty the whole time I was sitting at the table!! Entertainment that evening was a movie with Pop Corn in the show lounge – it was the latest James Bond, but we ended up sitting outside at Galileos bar sipping more champagne. Got back to the cabin and the stewardess had set up Jacks sofa bed, which was great as it was a single and meant that we could still access the balcony unlike other cruise lines, where once the bed is down you can’t get out without climbing over it. Drifted off into a very peaceful slumber (probably alcohol induced!).
Next day we arrived in Civitececcia and took a tour entitled Room on the Lighter Side – we were taken to St Pauls and escorted in there, to the Coliseum and guided round there, given a quick tour around the main sites and then dropped off by the Trevi Fountain for a couple of hours. The ship had kindly provided water as we left and also on the coach – it was a great tour. Regent do not completely fill the coaches and limit the exc ursions to around 35, which means the coaches never feel overcrowed. We got back to the Ship late afternoon to be greeted with more canapés and alcohol, and another gastronomic delight of dinner. We had agreed to meet our new friends and turned up at just before 8.00 requesting a table for 10 – no problem, we were all seated within minutes, and the usual excellent service continued. Point of note – Compass Rose offers Open Seating so you just turn up when you want to eat – we never had to wait and were always seated within minutes whether it was a table for 3 or a table for 10. There is also an alternate dining option which has to be booked – we did not try this as enjoyed Compass Rose so much (it is included in the cruise fare).
The next few days consisted of various tours including Off Roading at Mount Etna – this was an amazing excursion and took us to 9000 feet and to the site of the 2002/03 eruption, where the ground is still smoking. We took a cable car to 8000 feet and then an off road vehicle for the remainder, and we were up there for about an hour, and then bought back down – it was an excellent experience. We also went to Pompeii – again another excellent excursion where our friendly guide showed us all the main areas and explained what had happened. Santorini was another excursion, where we once again climbed a volcano, which is still smoking, swam in hot springs and then went to a winery for wine tasting, before catching the cable car back to the ship. Ephesus in Kusadasi was also another excursion, and boy was it hot, Regent thoughtfully provided a very nice Orchestra playing beautiful classical music just outside the library area and also provided cold scented towels to all its passengers, very welcome in a hundred degrees plus. We had one sea day which was a very welcome relief after all the excursions.
Most of our excursions were half days which was great as it meant we could spend every afternoon lounging around reading – the waiters always noticed when your glass was empty and another magically appeared by your side. Also they came round with cold towels mid afternoon just at the point where it was getting that bit too hot J
During our evening in Kusadasi we were treated to a deck BBQ – this was like nothing I have ever seen before. At 4.00pm the crew started to clear the decks and out came the table and chairs – everything was beautifully laid up with crisp white table cloths, silver cutlery and glasses and a BBQ like you have never seen was laid out including Suckling Pigs, Lobster, Paella, Steaks, Giant Prawns, Ribs, Sausage, Moussaka, Burgers, bread, salads – everything you could possibly imagine – all washed down with a never ending supply of wine – we did not like the one offered that night – a nasty Greek number – so they happily changed it for a very nice South African Shiraz – no problem. At 9.15 a local Turkish dance Group joined us and performed for about 30 minutes – they then left the ship and we set sail to the Regent Orchestra – what a fantastic evening.
We arrived in Athens where the majority of the passengers left the ship – there were only 15 of us that had elected to do a back to back 2 weeks cruise – so we had another sailaway party with lovely cocktails, champagne, canapés and food and watched our new passengers join us.
Week 2 took us to Napfilion were we did an excursion to the Corinth Canel and Ancient Corrinth which was great. We then went back to Santorini where for some reason I decided to walk down the 895 steps – bear in mind these steps are frequented by the donkeys which ferry passengers up and down, so you can imagine what they were like – Chris decided to take the donkey – which was hysterical as they gave him the alpha male, which had a mind of its own! I managed to get down 894 steps without breaking my neck, but unfortunately on the 895th I slipped and badly twisted my ankle – I had 8 old Greek chaps all shouting and trying to pick me up as well as throwing bottles of water over my foot. Needless to say I ended up at the Doctors on board and had an X-Ray – luckily nothing broken, just soft tissue damage – I was wondering what to spend my OBC on LOL.
Whilst in Santorini we noticed posters everywhere advertising a firework display at 9.00pm that evening to celebrate the volcano erupting years ago, and I said to Chris it’s a shame we were sailing at 6.00pm and would miss it. Well no surprises – we got back on board and the Captain announced that he too had noticed the posters, and had taken the decision to stop at Santorini so we could see the spectacle. That evening we had been invited to dinner with the Chief Engineer – Pepe and Martha the Exec Concierge, who were fantastic hosts – at 9.00pm we were every waiters nightmare, the main courses had just shown up, and Pepe told them to hold fire with serving it as we needed to see the fireworks – and to keep it warm…… We were gone for a good 40 minutes and I had ordered Chateau Briand – medium rare – as they had been told to “keep it warm” – I fully expected it to be a little past its best, but no – it was cooked to perfection…… Oh how I love Regent.
The next day we received another invite to a Private Sailaway with the Captain on the Bridge from Rhodes – how cool was that – they crew up their were marvellous – they explained everything to us – showed us how everything worked, how GPS works, how they still use maps and eyes, and how they avoid colliding with other boats. They even let us drive the boat J. Captain Aage (sp) was a delight as were the rest of his team – and they let us stay for as long as we wanted. This will be a memory that will stick with me forever.
Word must have got out about what good company we wereJ as we then received an invite to dine with the Cruise Director – by this point my 14 year old son, was fed up with long dinners, so elected to dine in the suite – where Felix our butler served him Spaghetti Bolognaise, a break basket and a strawberry milkshake – so he was happy. We had a lovely evening with Paul the CD, who was also English and spent loads of time chatting about his role, and the exciting things he had been doing – it was a great evening and we really enjoyed his company.
Yet another invite arrived for a “Behind the Scenes Tour” – there were about 10 of us, treated to a tour through the galley, into the crew mess areas, and finishing up in the crew bar – it was really interesting and we were greeted at the end of the tour with yet more champagne and canapes.
We attended the Crew Capers show on Wednesday night – where crew members perform – it was magical – and I did shed a few tears – Oh how I didn’t want to leave this beautiful existence and come back to the real world.
We arrived in Istanbul on Thursday ready for disembarkation on Friday morning – it was still really relaxing and we were never once made to feel that it was the end of the cruise and they were glad to see the back of us (unlike some cruise lines!!) – all the waiters came up to us and gave us hugs and said goodbye – more tears from me…… Oh how I love Regent.
In summary – I have found the perfect holiday – we were treated as individuals and greeted by name after the first few days – the bar tenders knew exactly what drinks I like and how I liked them. I really liked the fact that it was a small ship with only 490 passengers and 383 crew. Every lunch time I liked a White Zinfandel with lunch, and every lunch time it magically appeared, along with my iced water. The waiters greeted us by name every day and if my son wasn’t with us asked after him.
Regent have a way of making every guest feel individual and that nothing is too much trouble. If you don’t see something you want – just ask, and if they have it they will get it and deliver it with a small.
The food was incredible – and the choice was amazing – never once did it feel like mass catering – the portions at dinner were not huge, but with 9 courses to go at they didn’t need to be.
The products in the bathroom were a choice Anicini or Regents own and were restocked throughout the entire cruise. We were provided with an iPOD with speakers with an excellent variety of music from the Killers to Classical – something to suit all tastes. Our fruit bowl and fridge were replenished every day (sometimes twice if Jack had hit the sodas).
Other passengers were lovely and we met some fantastic people, some of whom we will stay in touch with, and are talking about cruising with again next year – with Regent naturally.
There was no signing for anything, room service was included (Jack used it every day for steak sandwiches and milk shakes), no tips are expected as they are included in the cruise fare , and the service was out of this world – all excursions were included (we did pay a small supplement for the Mount Etna trip), and we were given OBC so I stocked up on perfume and a paid my medical bill. Even the washing powder in the laundry was included 🙂
I cannot speak highly enough of Regent and am counting down the days until we join Voyager in the Baltic. If you have any questions fire away……
Thank you so much for sending me your review Denise I’m glad you had such a good time. If anybody else has written a review of their cruise feel free to send it in and I’ll post it up and I’ve also got some special offers on board the Navigator and Voyager.