I was lucky to have been invited to go on board the Regent Seven Seas Voyager last weekend and sail from Copenhagen to Helsinki. I have sold Regent many times and never thought I would ever get the opportunity to travel myself on one of their ships.
I flew from London Gatwick to Copenhagen with Easyjet and from the airport took the train to meet my colleague who had flown in the night before at Copenhagen Central station – there is a direct train from the station and cost DKR 36. We then made the decision to walk from the station to the ship (as I thought from memory this would only take us half and hour) I forgot though we had suitcases and the walk was longer than i remembered, so the walk actually took about an hour and a half. We did have quite a scenic walk through the shopping streets, through the Amalienborg palace where we were in time to watch the changing of the guard, then saw the little mermaid before arriving at our ship. We boarded and after receiving our security cards we the went to our suite.
Wow what a suite – we were in one of the Concierge Suites- there was a big bathroom with a walk-in shower and a separate full size bath and complimentary L’Occitane toiletries, there was a walk in wardrobe which is big enough to use as a changing room if preferred, this is also where the safe is and where the bathrobes, slippers, pashminas and cashmere blanket were. We then we had a big sleeping area and then also a big lounge area with a 3 seater sofa with two additional chairs around a coffee table and also a coffee machine. On the balcony was two reclining chairs. There was also a bottle of champagne chilling for us and a fruit platter.
We then went for lunch up on the pool grill before doing a self guided tour of the ship. At 4pm we then went for afternoon tea (Cunard do this better). At 6pm we then met up with the rest of the group and had our safety meeting and then drinks. We were then advised that reservations had been made and we would be eating in Prime 7 that evening – Prime 7 is one of the specialty restaurants on board and the food was just amazing – the steaks just melted in your mouth and you can choose to have steaks from 6 ounces up to 18 ounces, or if 2 sharing then a 32 ounce steak. There was no hurry to make us leave and after 4 courses and 3 hours (and feeling very full) we then went to the Voyager lounge for drinks and dancing before bed. Reservations are required for Prime 7 and I would highly recommend at least one visit during the cruise.
The following day was a day at sea and a day of leisure. There was a range of activities for everyone such as Trivia, Card Making, needlepoint class, talk about the Tsars, art auctions, and they even play bingo on Regent which surprised me. We decided to go to the Martini Making demonstration and then the ice sculpting. For lunch there was a chili cook off with four different chefs (one from each restaurant) serving four different chilies. The chili that won was the beef with beer chili . This was all by the pool grill and had an Mexican theme and enchiladas, Mexican rice and nachos were all on offer. The wind then dropped and the sun came out in the afternoon so we spent the afternoon sunbathing and sipping cocktails round the pool. in the evening we dined in the Compass Rose which is the main dining room and has an open dining policy – they do not make reservations for this restaurant. Again the food was lovely and again we were not rushed to leave. After dinner as we were late out we caught the end of the show in the theatre before heading back to the Voyager lounge for a 70’s disco and drinks.
On Sunday we were in Riga, Latvia and we had been booked on an excursion called Charming Riga. We opted to have breakfast in our suite due to the early departure of our tour and In our walk in wardrobe was a table covering for the glass table which was then laid up with a table cloth and breakfast was laid out. They hadn’t quite got the order right but nevertheless was nice and set us up for the day. We had ordered fruit, omlette for myself, toast and then juice. You could have also ordered pastries, eggs were cooked to order, and other hot breakfast items as well as cereals.
We were taken on a walking tour of Riga by a small, but loud high pitched Latvian woman – at first I thought this is going to be a nightmare as I don’t normally go on excursions and thought her voice would be hurting my head, however after about half an hour the tour became very interesting and the guide was very knowledgeable and showed us everything Latvia had to offer. We then went back to the ship for lunch and an afternoon sitting round the pool with cocktails. At sail away we had the Regent Orchestra play us out. For dinner that evening we chose to dine in La Verandah which at night time became an Italian and have to say this is one I was disappointed with. Mainly on the service levels – the staff were working very hard but there didn’t seem to be enough of them and unfortunately this lead to one meal being completely wrong, one steak not cooked enough, and drinks not being topped up. After dinner we went to the show in the theatre before drinks in the Voyager lounge.
On the last morning we had breakfast in the Compass Rose which was a waiter service and was disappointed with the quality of the food, none of the hot food items came out together so was cold when it all did. We watched the sail in to Helsinki and was a lovely warm sunny morning so was out on the top deck. We arrived in early so clearance was given for those who were independent travellers. We stayed on board, had lunch and a last glass of champagne, and then it was time for our taxi to the airport. This took 30 mins and cost approx 50 euros.
The ship holds 700 guests and no area is ever crowded. Apart from prime 7 there is also another specialty restaurant called Signatures which unfortunately for us was fully booked on our other two days. There is a library, gym, Canyon Ranch Spa and a salon on board. Regent sail at 98% full capacity and have a very high repeat ratio of approx 75%. Also in your cabin on your TV there is a selection of 200 movies to watch – many of them free and many of them the latest releases. There is also a paddle tennis court, shuffle board, mini golf and also boules.
The great thing about Regent Seven Seas is that nearly all drinks (apart from expensive wines) are included even the mini bar and had we been on longer then we would have been able to have in our mini bar two bottles of our favourite spirits. And most excursions are also included in the price which is fantastic as many people are put of doing excursions so miss the destinations key sights as the cost is too much. So my advice when looking at the brochure is don’t put it straight down thinking its too expensive – stop and think how much you would spend on drinks on board, how much the specialty restaurants are to eat in and also how much excursions cost. Once you have done this you will find Regent very good value for money.
My initial preconceptions of Regent is that the guests would be pretentious, upper class, rich and that I would have find the ship boring and stuffy, that the food would be too fancy and that I would be under dressed in the evenings as the dress code is elegant leisurewear. I couldn’t have been more wrong – The ship and the staff were all very friendly and if they could do anything, or get you anything then nothing was too much trouble. The ship had a relaxed ambiance on board, and I thought life on board would finish at about 10pm as everyone would retire to their suites but again this was completely wrong and even for my age group (30’s) there was always something to do. Most of the cruise ships I go on belong to the Mass Market cruise lines and have things like climbing walls, ice skating rinks, english pubs and royal promenades – however I did not miss any of these things and there was plenty to keep me amused.
I also shouldn’t have worried about the dress code as the British on board were much better dressed than the other nationalities. And we also found apart from a small group the rest of the guests were very friendly and all seemed to be having a good time.
Overall the staff are very friendly and helpful but the ladies on the destination services desk were not very helpful when asking about information for the tour we have booked, and then one night when we were in the horizon lounge for pre dinner drinks one lady in our group had to ask three times for a glass of champagne.
Would I travel with Regent again? – I most definitely would, and next time someone says to me that seems expensive I will point out the inclusions on Regent and that on paper it might seem it up front, but realistically not overall.
Have you travelled with Regent and what were your thoughts? Did you find them value for money?