I have read recent reviews of cruises on the Mariner that cast doubt on the exceptionable quality of the cruise experience on this ship. In part, my motivation for writing this review is to balance what has been written by some others (and to reinforce the positive reviews of the Mariner Alaska cruises that also appear in CruiseCritic).
I travelled with my two adult daughters for a 7 day Alaska cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner. We spent several days on our own in Anchorage prior to the cruise, travelling on day trips with a rented car. The night before the cruise we stayed at the Anchorage Hilton (which we enjoyed somewhat less than our stay at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa) in a free, pre-cruise package, followed by a bus transfer to the port in Seward on the day of the cruise. The embarkation was extremely quick and simple, taking no more than about 5 minutes.
The cruise experience of all three of us on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner was extraordinary. The staff was uniformly outstanding (more details about this later) and very friendly, from the captain to the dining staff and the room cleaners. The food was, in general, excellent, and great efforts were made to adapt the menu to the special needs of one of my daughters, who is lactose intolerant and does not eat meat (more about this in the next paragraph). We enjoyed almost all of the shore excursions, although some were much better than others. We chose not to go to most of the entertainment shows (usually because we ate dinner relatively late, so I have no comments to offer on them).
When I reserved the cruise, I informed our Regent Cruise Consultant (through whom I purchased the cruise), that one of my daughters is lactose intolerant and does not eat meat. Shortly after our arrival on board the Mariner, we met with the Douglas, the officer in charge of dining on the ship. He told us that every evening we would receive menus for the next day at all of the Mariner's restaurants and that we would be able to make modifications to suit my daughter's food needs. The first two days we made requests to make modifications in various dishes that were on the menu -- and to add a non-dairy prepared dessert. We also asked our butler to arrange with the restaurants that my daughter receive a special order of non-dairy pancakes at breakfast. Everything was prepared as we requested. Then we decided to be more pro-active with everything on the menu. What followed was extraordinary. We would request salads, main courses and desserts that did not appear on the menu, but whose ingredients either appeared somewhere on one of the restaurant's menus or which we knew were available. Essentially, we prepared unique dishes that my daughter thought she would enjoy, and the kitchen staff prepared those dishes especially for her. In addition, at every meal they would prepare a special cake or pie for her dessert and, on the last night of the cruise she received a fresh cherry pie that was the tastiest dessert that I sampled on the entire cruise. I can't emphasize enough the contribution to our enjoyment of the cruise that was made by such outstanding and individual treatment (which also was tasty); it transformed one of my daughter's and my concerns about the cruise into an enjoyable and sometimes even exciting (culinary) experience.
I also would like to single out the warm and friendly atmosphere in interactions with the ship's crew. We had several opportunities to speak briefly with the captain, who was always willing to spend a minute or two to talk with us. Our butler, Arnel, was extraordinarily helpful and went out of his way to resolve any issue or answer any question that we might have. The cleaning staff, including our steward Thirupathi, always greeted us with a smile and a warm welcome. The dining room staff was almost universally warm, attentive and helpful -- and, in addition to Douglas, I would like to single out the French Dining Room Officer Maria; both of my daughters and I enjoyed talking with her and we also were impressed by her ability to direct the staff under her supervision as well as to take responsibility on herself.
The ship experience was in general very positive. The ship was clean and aesthetically pleasing. There were some problems with the 2 elevators on the other side of the ship from our room and this may have affected many passengers, but the 3 elevators on the forward side of the ship had no problems. A particular on-board experience that the three of us greatly enjoyed was the cruise along the Hubbard Glacier and the ability to bring the ship so close to the glacier, allowing us to clearly see and hear the sounds of the glacier's calving.
Additional highlights for us were the shore excursions. In general, we enjoyed the excursions, although there were truly local experts who added tremendously to their guiding based on many years of experience, whereas other of the "local" guides were less familiar with the sights that they described, as they were summer staff that seemed to have undergone a quick orientation, but were lacking deeper knowledge of the surroundings. The two excursions that one or all of us enjoyed the most were the Tongass Rainforest Nature Hike (from Sitka), which had an excellent guide, and the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest (from Juneau).
To sum up, on the basis of my cruise experience on this Alaska, Regent Seven Seas Cruise, I would definitely choose to sail again with Regent.
The penthouse suite was spacious, even given the fact that there were 3 of us in the suite. This was a room that had a sofa bed, but the sofa bed was terrible and not suitable for any adult to sleep on; as a result, after the first night we requested a cot. My daughters, who alternated sleeping on the cot, said that it was reasonably comfortable -- although less so than the bed. There was sufficient room in the walk-in closet and on the luggage holders for all of our baggage. Our butler, Arnel, was outstanding, and our steward, Thirupathi, together with the cleaner, kept the room immaculate.