This was our third cruise with Regent and the start of the recent television series in the UK on the ‘Explorer’ had put us in the mood for a luxurious break. We flew from LHR with BA which was fine, and our private transfer was waiting, all good. We were in a Concierge level suite so we had the free previous night’s accommodation included - and the ‘meet and greet’ at the hotel was well organised. While we could understand why Regent use the Divani Caravel Hotel from the point of view of the easy handling of a large number of cruise guests, 5 star it certainly wasn’t, particularly our room, which was small with old and scruffy furniture. The rooftop pool was good though, and you could see the Acropolis in the distance. Given Regent’s sales pitch, we would have expected a better hotel nearer the centre of the city.
We were transferred to the ship by coach and the embarkation process was very quick, with helpful agents. Our suite was fine, very comfortable bed, everything worked - except the door to the balcony which we had to get an engineer to fix it so that my wife could open it – you would think the room steward might have spotted it first. Most of the staff were generally friendly and competent; the one exception were the barmen - they had clearly not seen the TV programme which says that ‘no’ is not an option. It’s a real first world problem, but if you want French dry rose wine to drink, to be offered Pino Grigio because the barman can’t be bothered to go and get the wine you want is not the way to go. Food in Compass Rose was excellent, and much better than we remember, but we can’t say the same for the buffet in Sette Mari. Keeping meat dishes hot seemed to be a problem, and flies dive-bombing the various cold dishes was quite common. The other new introduction for us was an evening barbecue on the deck in the middle of the cruise, and also a buffet on the last night. We were not impressed by either.
We ate at both specialty restaurants, Chartreuse was really excellent, unfortunately Prime 7 was not and left a lot to be desired in all areas - decor (it’s so brown), very, very slow service and poor food quality. We had to ask several times to speak to the Maitre’D and his response when we managed to speak to him was poor. Even the table next to us hosted by the social host was suffering, she must have been very embarrassed - it needs a serious review.
The ‘free’ tours we did were good, Istanbul particularly, though one or two of the stops did not really have much to offer. We saw some of the evening shows in the excellent theatre although content was standard cruise ship fare, but probably appropriate for the audience. The sea day was a disappointment, very few activities – you would think they could run another quiz at least.
Our perception was that most of the passengers were Brits or Europeans, and the average age was 50/60. Talking with other guests it was clear that most of them restricted their cruising to the 6 Star lines, and that meant that they were less aware of some of the more ‘standard’ cruise lines suite offers – which in our view are better in many ways, particularly on facilities and service levels. We have been on over 70 cruises, on a variety of lines - Regent is not cheap, and in our view does not always deliver the 6 Star offer it should.