Background Info: My wife and I have been on 7 cruises in past 5 years. We now clearly prefer Regent and this cruise helped reaffirm this opinion. It was a 12 day cruise from Athens to Istanbul and originally included two days in Egypt. They were replaced with an extra day in Israel and a stop at a wonderful port in Crete called Aghios Nikolaos. I assume many passengers cancelled when Egypt was eliminated from cruise, but we thought the adjustments were great and it triggered a last minute upgrade offer, which we took, moving from a Penthouse A to a GranMariner Suite - a once in a life time experience for us. And it was awesome to have a room with 900 sq feet and windows looking out the front of the ship and a balcony on the side.
Hotel Info: We used Regent for our fabulous hotels in Athens and Istanbul, but our first night in Athens, there were dangerous demonstrations directly in front of the Gran Bretagne Hotel. It was a disappointment to only spend one night, but Regent arranged for us to eventually spend the night in a Sofitel Hotel at the airport - executive level. Worked out well and we checked into our hotel at 9AM the next morning. Service and room were great and at dinner we had a beautiful view of the Acroplis and Parthenon. Breath-taking. Our hotel in Istanbul - Ciragan Palace Kempenski exceeded all our expectations from the moment we entered the hotel. The hotel is elegant and overlooks the Bosphorous, so when we laid out at the superb pool, the view was just great. Food, service, room, location, view and ambiance were 1st class - but so was price!!
Activities and Entertainment: We always enjoyed the evening shows when the Regent dance team and orchestra performed. The individual performers were not so good. We did not participate in many activities except a reception for Seven Seas Members that we enjoyed. Also saw a fun movie out by the pool one night. We used the spa and gym a lot and walked around Deck 12 mornings when we were free. Also, we were fortunate to share a dinner with the talented Cruise Director Paul Reynolds. The poolside Barbecue dinner and entertainment night was also well done.
Service: We had an excellent butler and room steward who provided first class service, including coffee in our room every morning and canapEs must afternoon. Also took care of laundry and helped with ironing twice. Service at Reception and Destinations was always prompt and courteous
Ports and Shore Excursions: We really enjoyed our 4 days in Israel. Incredible. Walking where so many biblical events occurred was great. Sea of Galilee was wonderful just to look at. Jerusalem and Bethlehem were very crowded, but we expected that. We enjoyed every port. We were pleasantly surprised with Antalya and Crete and really marveled at Ephesus
Travel to Athens: We booked thru Regent and it included a 7 hour layover in Newark (that became 10 hours because of plane maintenance. Direct flight to Athens was great on Continental Air. Airport transfer/Regent pick up went well.
Stateroom 1100: This was awesome. Like a good sized apartment! Everything we needed including an I-Pad. It was a great location too .
Dining: We ate in the Compass Rose most nights and it was just great. Good food and wine and wonderful service. Always got a tablefor two. Had two evenings at Prime 7 and 1 night at Signatures. Really enjoyed them, but Compass Rose for us was as good or better. The Verandah was very enjoyable and tasty for informal meals like breakfast and lunch. Opted not to have a meal in our room.
Disembarkation: Went very smoothly with a brief tour of Istanbul and then a wonderful check in experience at hotel. Mariner handled disembarkation well - just sad to leave. Our return flights thru Regent took us from Istanbul to Paris to Detrait with Air France. Very nice experience
Summary: Another wonderful memory from Regent and we booked another cruise in late November on Mariner to Latin America.
If you want to experience floating elegance, try an upgrade to one of 2 Gran Mariner Suites. Living room, dining area, huge closets, two complete bathrooms, large bedroom, relaxing living room with desk. Comfortable balcony