Mariner Review – April 2-12 Barcelona – Istanbul

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1,855 Posts
Joined May 2001
OK, I am giving my review as well on this thread, hope my friend Tallship doesn't mind

I was on this cruise as well, and echo everything Tallship has said. As well, my adult daughters and husbands really enjoyed Nature's Rhythm Trio, and they came after dinner to Horizon's several times. I did not make it to one show, not even on the Cirque night.

Of course, after so many cruises with Regent, I am always so afraid it could never be as good as the last one, but it always is. (this was my 30th with Regent) It was a pleasure to have lunch and dinner with Tallship and her lovely mom, as we have cruised together before on a TA where you really get to know your fellow cruisers a bit more. I just love them. The night we had dinner together, I also got to meet Mr. Rumour, albeit briefly in Horizons before dinner and enjoyed that, too! Somehow I never made it to Observation Lounge to search out Nana541 at 6 p.m. when she said she is there before dinner. We were lucky to make it to dinner before 8:30 most nights!

I had the pleasure of having dinner with the Captain one night, and he is just as charming as ever. It was funny, we were with one other couple and Nicola, Socal Hostess (it was a Rome or Florence night, not a big table) and the other couple and I were reminiscing about the Diamond, and how slow she was. Sometimes you felt like you were going nowhere when heading into the seas. Felice got on his phone and called the staff captain (former Diamond officer) and asked how fast the ship went......13 knots. He said can you imagine this ship only going 15 mph at full speed?

The best thing about this cruise for me was the service, service, service. Food was very good, but there were a few misses with entrees, never anything else. This time I never made it to the alternate restaurants. Wanted my girls to have date nights in there with their spouses, and never managed to get a table for a second night for the 5 of us. Not a problem for me, I am not a food nut, and there's always another cruise.

One night after dinner, I was on the outer edge of the coffee corner picking up emails briefly, and I heard this singing coming from Stars Lounge. I just knew that voice....and can't say that it was on key. Walked down there, and there were my younger daughter and hubby up there singing away at Kareoke and adding dancing drama to their routine! Almost died laughing, but bless the audience, they were clapping. Nicola is absolutely my favorite Social Hostess of all the ships, and she was a trooper trying to get people up on stage on this port intensive cruise where there is not much night life.

Both my girls (30 & 34) and their husbands had a wonderful vacation, and loved visiting many ports for the first time. They were out on excursions every single port. Only downside, a big disappointment, was missing Santorini because the port closed b/c of winds and surge. One of my SIL's was a first time cruiser, and he had been prepped for how wonderful the ship was, but it was the service that just blew him away.

We had quite an international group on this cruise. There was a huge family group on from Spain, so many of them that the Captain would make his announcements at noon in both languages, that was a first for me.

I am not one of those who is bothered by children onboard at all. Have never found them to be other than another pleasant turn from the normal passenger mix. And I am a doting grandma. We had 40, but I almost never saw any of the little ones except at dinner! There seemed to be a lot of young teens. A couple of nights, we were right next to a big family table with 4 little girls, oldest had to be no more than 10-12, and youngest about 4. I have never seen children so well behaved, ever. Little Princesses, every one of them. If I brought my 4 little monsters aboard at that age we would have likely been asked to leave the ship.

Another highlight of the trip was coming in 2 nights early to Barcelona. (Great rates for Le Meridien booked through Priceline) We did the HOHO bus one day (I think cabs would have been less expensive and quicker) and did some of the stops. It was crowded, crowded on Palm Sunday, and La Sagrada Familia interior was closed for services. A lady on the bus told us to get online that night at our hotel and buy tickets in advance for the next day. What a tip! We did so, and sailed past long lines the next morning before we left to board the ship. What a magnificent cathedral, it was truly one of the big highlights for all of us. But would never have made it in if we had not booked online. Those lines were LONG, and I have no patience.

After the cruise, we were Istanbul for 2 additional nights, and SO glad we did this, first visit for everyone. Reserved a boutique hotel I heard about on Trip Advisor (Amira), and the staff could not have been better at the Ciragan Palace. The manager personally sat down with us after check in at the breakfast room over coffee, and I knew I wanted a private local guide for the high spots. He got on the phone and arranged this for 4 hours in the afternoon, and suggested in the meantime we take in the Cisterns on our own and booked tables for us at local restaurants, one for seafood, the other for traditional Turkish food, we loved them both. All the main sights were in walking distance, and since the guide already had the tickets, we saved hours waiting in lines. This must be a peak week for them.

Like Tallship, the Grand Bazaar was the highlight for me! Those shopkeepers are tough. Not agressively chasing you down the walkways like I thought, but you really have to negotiate with them, as their prices start out so high. I made some good buys on small stuff. As much as I would love to buy a rug, I'm just not savvy enough to deal with them to know the worth of one from the other. It was a lot of fun.

I do hate coming home, and want to be there as soon as I get in the taxi to the airport. From Istanbul, I was on award tickets and did not want to leave at 0 dark 10 in the morning. So I had to overnight in Paris at CDG. I hate that airport when I have to go from one Terminal to another. I lucked out on Priceline to get the Sheraton or whatever hotel is right in Terminal 2 over the Rail Station at about 1/4 of the rack rate if booked online. Same Terminal as I was leaving from the next morning. You sit in your room and look out the window at planes taking off and landing, and don't hear a thing, and the staff was most helpful guiding me to my gate the next morning. Lines were long for check in, passport control, etc, but fortunately I scored biz award tickets, and there was one whole area just for priority everything. It was a breeze, once I saw what others were going through. But walk you will, if you even pass through this airport.

What a great cruise. I'm hoping all will be the same when I board again in Monte Carlo in November.
1,331 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
jhp - we are so very fond of you as well and especially enjoyed our time together and the chat we had together late in the night before our departure.

We are going to Alaska soon and considering another one late summer. Both on NAV so I hope the magic carries over.
2,155 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Mr. Rumor, A little late in replying; but imo 409 is not an obscure BB hit. I have a greatest hits cd I play in my '85 380sl and love it. Not much bad BB music anyway!
Land of Enchantment
813 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
newlondon, good to meet another Beach Boy fan. Originally, 409 was a local hit, flopping nationally (it spent only one week on the Hot 100, at #76, according to a Billboard chart book I have). But this cool little ditty has certainly gained a lot of fans over the years due to its inclusion on myriad "Best of" albums. So in that sense it is certainly not obscure! Hope you'll get to hear the Nature Rhythm Trio's version one day.

By the way, the Boys, featuring the three living original members--Brian Wilson, Mike Love and David Marks--have reunited for a three-month 50th anniversary tour that begins Tuesday in Tucson!
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Royal Viking Line shipboard editor, 1973-1974 and 1976-1977. Regent Seven Seas cruiser since 2010.
3,015 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Tina and jhp - I only just read this thread and thank you both for the very informative reviews. It made me wish that Ken and I had stayed on board for your cruise!!

And Tina - you are SO right about the staff being the most important ingredient in the Regent mix! They are wonderful.

Hope you all got home safely and that we can meet up on a future cruise!! We missed you at Trivia on the TA!!

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Weston, florida
89 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Travelcat2
Really enjoyed reading your review -- thank you for taking the time to post it. There is one comment you made (probably the best that I have read on these boards) that bears repeating:

"The Regent staff take pride in what they do and demonstrate genuine care for their passengers. Many of the crew showed such kindness to my mom and I am always in their debt for making a contribution to her(our) happiness. This is the reason why we keep coming back and it is the secret sauce in the Regent Experience."
I couldn't agree with you more. My wife and I sailed on the Mariner from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona, but switched to the Oceania Marina on April 2nd because we much preferred the itinerary (fewer repeat ports for us).

Although the Marina is a beautiful ship and we found the food to be every bit as good as the Mariner, the service didn't come close to comparing to the service on the Mariner. That was true accross the board, from the housekeeping staff to the dining staff and to the bar staff.

A very striking difference, made all the more noticeable because of the direct comparison of one cruise to the immediately following one.
1,331 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
That is a very interesting observation. A few years ago, 8 of us went on HAL over the holidays and we had 2 top end suites with access to their Concierge Club, etc.
The food, etc was great but the service and cruise ambiance we experience on Regent is far superior and made us never go back to HAL
Land of Enchantment
813 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
crooz4fun, not everyone has the opportunity to do a Mariner-Marina back to back, so I, too, was interested in your comparisons. You have an unique perspective with which to make them!

I have to say, the Marina was a beauty to behold in Barcelona on April 2 as the Mariner began to depart the port:

More than a few Marina passengers took notice of us:

Before I knew it, the Marina was in our rear-view mirror. Monte Carlo, here we come!
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Royal Viking Line shipboard editor, 1973-1974 and 1976-1977. Regent Seven Seas cruiser since 2010.
Land of Enchantment
813 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by tallship
The pics are great. I was just sitting here thinking....i have never had a bad cruise on the Mariner.....
Me neither, Tina, although we have only had three. Our one Voyager cruise (Northern Europe) wasn't half-bad either! Again, no desire at this point, to look beyond Regent.
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Royal Viking Line shipboard editor, 1973-1974 and 1976-1977. Regent Seven Seas cruiser since 2010.
1,855 Posts
Joined May 2001
Rich, thank you for your photos! I didn't notice what was next to us in Barcelona!

Both ships are lovely from the outside, just your experience "inside" that counts, and I have never cruised Oceania. Know they have a loyal following. Just got an email that the Riviera is about to launch its inaugural cruise. Maybe one of these days. 1,200 sounds like a lot of people, but not as many as the Disney cruise I just booked for next year for my sons, wives, and grands.

Maybe next time it will be Regent's turn to get a new ship! I sure hope so.

Gerry, I forgot to tell you, but the night we got to Istanbul (before you arrived on the Mariner), we went to have dinner at the Hotel 1898 across the street (tallship's hotel, but the night before she arrived). There was a couple having dinner, it was not crowded, who were dead ringers for the picture you have on your avatar of you and your husband. I was about to go and introduce myself, until I remembered you were not yet in port. Maybe someday we will meet on a cruise.