The reason for choosing the Regent Safaris and Jewels cruise was its post-cruise trip to Cambodia. There are many other cruise lines that offer a similar trip to Africa and Asia, but the deciding factor was the post-cruise trip to Cambodia.
We followed all the “travel checklist” instructions in Regent's “Cruise Vacation Document” and “Angkor Wat Document” sent to us by Regent before the cruise, specifically the “passports” section. Regent's instructions for required documentation said..."Guest must carry a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and have spare pages for the Cambodian Visa." We made sure that we would have enough pages in our passports for visa stamps for Indonesia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Cambodia, as directed by Regent. What Regent should have said was each country visited will stamp your passport and insert a Visa where appropriate. We have been on many other multi-port cruises where the passport was not stamped in every port, just the appropriate Visa attached. This is a BIG difference. If I'd known this was going to be handled differently from previous cruises, I would have gotten a new passport, even though my current one doesn't expire until November 2016, just to make sure that there were enough pages.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Singapore airport to board our plane to Cambodia, I was denied a boarding pass because there were no more “acceptable” pages in my passport for the Cambodian visa. Since my passport was held by Regent for the entire trip and was not released to me until the evening before we arrived in Singapore, I had no idea that I could not receive a Cambodian visa. There were still two empty pages left in my passport but these were deemed unacceptable for the Cambodian visa. If I had known before we got to the airport, I could have easily rectified the problem by going to the American Embassy. They would have given me acceptable visa pages for my passport. We certainly had plenty of time since, unbelievably, it took an hour and a half just to board our sightseeing bus at the dock. Then, there was another couple of hours of sightseeing in Singapore before getting to the airport.
I hold Regent totally responsible for our not going to Cambodia. There were possibly just a hundred passengers going to Cambodia. How much time would it have taken for the Regent staff to go through these passports to ensure that there was an acceptable page for the Cambodian visa? Not much and it would have averted a very big problem for us.
From the moment we boarded the ship to the minute we left, Regent personnel, especially the Destination Services staff, were misinformed, miscommunicated, and lacked customer care reflective of a “luxury/upper premium” cruise line. We followed all their instructions and, mostly, they were incomplete or just wrong. Even the Angkor Wat trip details they issued two days before the trip were wrong. This caused a great deal of confusion and the Destination Services staff, when questioned by most of the Post-Cruise Passengers, did not know what the right details were. In fact, I pointed this out to the General Manager but I never heard back from him nor were the trip details corrected.
Since I could not get a boarding pass, my sister and I were forced to stay behind in Singapore, which meant booking another two nights at the Regent Hotel since we were not flying home until the post-cruise passengers returned from Cambodia.
I followed everything Regent told me to do. Regent’s instructions were inaccurate and incomplete and I got penalized. This promised tour to Cambodia (which was paid for as part of the trip) was the reason we booked this cruise with Regent. We were looking forward to Cambodia and to be told at airport check-in that there was a problem with my passport was just too much.
Here are a few other examples of Regent's incompetency and complacency:
•Unnecessary Vaccination Information: Per Regent’s instructions, it was mandatory that we get a yellow fever shot. We got the shot but it was totally unnecessary.
•Unwelcoming Arrival On Board: Regent could not get our names right on the reservation or on arrival. We are two sisters traveling together with the same last name. My sister is not a Mr. and I am not a Mrs. Our bathroom was set up with toiletries for a man and woman. The slippers were a large and a small. The personalized stationary had someone else’s name printed on it. All of this was very insulting and not indicative of either a warm welcome or personalized service, as promised. We were asked to fill out a beverage form prior to boarding re: in-suite beverage preferences and this form was completely ignored. The bathroom was dirty when we arrived, with dental floss on the floor.
After boarding the ship, we had a couple of hours before the fire drill so we decided to walk to the Capetown Victoria Wharf. We were told to use the Regent shuttle bus. We were assured that we would be returned in time for the fire drill. We returned at the designated time but were not allowed back on the ship for an hour. There were other passengers with us who were also detained in the terminal, having been given the same instructions for returning to the ship. We all watched the fire drill from the terminal, which started at 5:45 PM, a good half hour after we arrived at the terminal. We did what we were told by Regent security people and were treated like delinquents and were penalized for following Regent’s instructions.
•Lack Of Variety and Poor Quality Food At La Veranda: As health conscious individuals, we had an extremely hard time finding any kind of variety of simple, healthy food to eat (aside from breakfast) in La Veranda. Moreover, the food itself was obviously recycled day after day. Several times, there was “grilled fish” which seemed to have been cooked, re-cooked and then cooked again. Some of the fruits and vegetables should not have been served since they were inedible. On tour days, La Veranda was the only option for lunch since Compass Rose closed most times when tours returned to the ship. The Pool Grill’s vegetarian grill options were inedible, no matter what we ordered. They always tasted of rancid oil.
•Inaccurate Tour Descriptions/Instructions: We bought supplies for tours, as directed by Regent, which were unnecessary. For example, for the Sabang, we were directed to bring the following supplies: “sunglasses with head strap; sunscreen; insect repellant; rain poncho; a bottle of water from the ship; leech-proof socks; and flat, comfortable walking shoes. Most vehicles here do not have air conditioning.” None of the supplies were needed including the leech socks we actually purchased. When we asked Destination Services about this, they just nonchalantly said these supplies were not needed. An accurate description before the cruise start would have been appreciated and we would have avoided some unnecessary expenses as well as the time spent finding these supplies. Also, the tour we took was mostly a ride in an air-conditioned car, not as described (which we appreciated).
•Disembarkation Was A Nightmare: Total chaos. We received instructions the night before of when to report to the Constellation Theatre. When we got there, there was a line that nobody understood. Turned out, every passenger had to check out via this line, information that was not contained in the instructions we received. With one Destination Services person going through the passenger lists, this was totally inefficient. Again, Destinations Service people were not only inefficient but totally rude when asked about the reason for this procedure. Normally, swiping one’s key card on the way off the ship is enough. When we were released from the ship to meet the rest of our Post-Cruise travelers, we waited an hour and a half on the curb for our Singapore tour bus to arrive. It was total chaos, with the Destination Services Director generally standing around and doing nothing to alleviate the problem. When it was suggested that the Destination Services Director, Dagmara, apologize to the passengers, she told us that she was “very busy”. Finally, one of the Destination Services staff came on board our bus with a half-hearted apology that nobody appreciated.
•Don't Even Try To Reach Regent Customer Service Via Phone. It is a recorded message suggesting that they only respond to e-mails. Just another indication about how Regent feels about its customers.
Lastly, suggesting the fish rots from the head, letters to the CEO and President of Regent have gone unanswered. I guess no one at Regent cares about their customers.
Small. Very small. When we arrived, not cleaned properly.