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Mariner..Lisbon-Miami 10/13--11/3 Review


Responder
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Returned yesterday morning from this cruise and although we have been Regent fans for 10 years now, we believe this was the parting cruise..

 

I believe the word "Luxury" has lost its luster. The only thing related to luxury is the price. Very much like the connotation "Gourmet." Doesn't mean a thing anymore.

 

This review has no relation to the merger or any predictions about the future...only what we experienced. I will assume, coming from the world of business, that the new management has only one goal, and that is the bottom line. They will do whatever necessary to increase that number no matter. If I were in their shoes, I would have the very same goal.

 

We chose our own hotel in the downtown Lisbon area. Regent hotels are almost never in a convenient area and are overpriced. On sailing day we arrived at the pier about 11:30...hung around in a waiting area for a while and then after some minimal security walked to the ship rather than wait for the shuttle. Registration was rather smooth after a more experienced agent instructed our agent how to work his computer to check us in.

 

We found our cabin ready and left our hand luggage while having lunch.

Cabin was spotless and we met our room stewards, two young people from Bali, who provided the very best service we have ever had on a ship.

 

I always obtain the full list of included wines upon boarding but had difficulty this time. After asking 3 days running, I received it and was disappointed in what I saw. Pretty sad list. Please don't tell me I had the option of purchasing premium wines as I had already paid for these. On a number of past Regent cruises, when they ran out of a favorite wine of mine, Daniela would go into the cellar and find what she knew I liked and substitute it. Daniela, where are you? (She's asst. F&B on Oceania.)

 

Again, the coffee is terrible and at this juncture after all these years, I have yet to receive an answer from Regent about it. In fact, I have never received an answer about anything from them. Why should there even have to be a discussion about why we should have to work around this issue.

 

We ate a few times in Prime 7 and although the menu hasn't ever really changed, it was very nice. Signatures used to be our favorite for years but I think they have lost it. When the Maitre 'd had to come over to saw away at my wife's rack of Lanb and had difficulty cutting it, I wonder. The pretense they offer is way out of style and doesn't enhance the quality of the food.

Compass Rose was OK but again, the managers were literally running at full speed to help serve, clear the tables and top off the wine.

 

A number of the shows were quite good, but many were ordinary. The lecturers however, were very good.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that cost cutting is in high gear. In the Verandah and pool deck during brealfast or lunch, very few people bringing drinks or clearing the tables.It was disheartening to see all the upper management in their suits and ties scurrying around bussing the tables...serving ice cream...bringing orders to the tables, etc. We would order eggs for example and after 10 minutes half the order would come and 10 minutes later the other half.

 

Since we had an inordinate number of sea days due to some problems, they served many buffets on deck for lunch. It mostly resembled a hometown all you can eat buffet. Really a poor presentation and questionable quality and presentation. For comparison, in Aug 2013, we sailed on the Voyager on a Baltic cruise. They had just taken on a new exec chef from the hotel industry...Jonathan Smid. This man provided the fines spreads and food we have had in years. His seafood buffets on the deck were incredible.

I asked the GM why the main attraction on Oceania was the food. He said that their entire marketing relates to their food and perhaps that's why food is lacking on Regent. His words, not mine.

 

The library seems a bit sparse and in terms of cost cutting, Regent has canceled all the periodicals on all its ships. The GM told me it cost too much. He was disturbed with this as he felt that for those who were spending huge dollars in the spa and waiting for their appointments, had nothing to browse...except ship brochures, of course.

 

The art throughout the ship is not for me. Any time I have to look at the back of a painting to find the arrow that says "this side up", it's not for me..

 

As an overview, we never saw so many wheelchairs, canes, electric carts, etc as we did on this sailing. Since the average age has to be 65 and up, I wonder where the next wave of people who have the money along with no children or jobs to contend with to be able to cruise with Regent.

As I looked around the gym, I saw thousands of dollars of very costly complex machinery standing around with literally no one using them. Good marketing, I guess.

 

I certainly hope that the rest of you did enjoy this sailing.

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Thanks for the review. I am very interested in your concerns. Just returned last week on our first Seabourn cruise. Two weeks along the Eastern Coast on the Quest. An enjoyable cruise.

Will be boarding Mariner, LA to Papeete in a couple of weeks. Our sixth with Regent.

It will be interesting to compare the two. It has been two years since our last Regent trip. Hope we will not be disappointed. True luxury cruise lines are becoming a thing of the past.

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Many thanks for the review. It strikes me as balanced and honest. Reading it carefully I don't think much has changed since our last TA on Regent (Mariner FLL to Barcelona in 2012). Disgusting coffee served at breakfast unless one got one's own from the espresso machine on the pool deck (even the espresso at la Veranda was not as good as from that machine!). Middle management were also helping out with service - but that doesn't bother me a whole lot but I agree with enough staff it really shouldn't be necessary. I can't recall the quality of the lunch buffets but I think they were OK. There were LOTS of people on walkers etc - RallyDave was on that cruise and I know he will remember me almost being run over by one in the Constellation Theatre at the Captain's cocktail party! I am happy for people who are handicapped or have limited mobility to be able to take a cruise that isn't too port intensive and who can then really enjoy themselves on board without feeling left out. As long as I don't get run over, I suppose! So not much has changed. I, too, can remember a TA on the Voyager eons ago where the food was quite perfect and the service was too.

 

Next April we'll be on the Riviera and I am crossing my fingers that our experience on that TA will be as great as our 2013 cruise on her to the Mexican Coast. I am sure the coffee will be better anyway!

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Thank you for this review even tho it makes me sad. We are on the mariner LA to Tahiti but sounds as if we may be disappointed. Our last regent was to Alaska and we loved it. My hunch of forgetting about regent and sticking with seaborne may come to fruition

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My 1st Regent cruise will be the Navigator Rome to Venice Apr 2016 and I chose for the itinerary because of 2 ports I have not been to. Koper (Lake Bled) and Bari (Trulli). It was either Silversea and a combined land tour with Tauck to accomplish this, and all of a sudden this Regent cruise popped up. I am thrilled and just hope with a cruise so far in the distance the ship will be in good shape. Regardless, it has to so much easier than planes, trains and automobiles. Thank you for the review.

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Responder, so disappointing to read some of the parts of your review regarding service and food, as the Mariner is my favorite ship (just like the layout, for some reason). I will be on her for almost a month starting mid-January to mid-February, and hope to find improvements are in place in the areas you mentioned.

 

Do you remember who was your GM?

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Responder, so disappointing to read some of the parts of your review regarding service and food, as the Mariner is my favorite ship (just like the layout, for some reason). I will be on her for almost a month starting mid-January to mid-February, and hope to find improvements are in place in the areas you mentioned.

 

Do you remember who was your GM?

 

Massimo was the GM..

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Would agree with most of your observations, Responder. Food quality and service in the cafeteria at lunch poor. And it would have been hard to render the presentation at the pool grill less appealing. We found the food quality in CR much better than our last Mariner trip. Signatures ain't what she used to be! Happily, we found the service in CR and the bars to be excellent. We were delighted to see they have switched back to a two cabin attendant system. The one place I would disagree with you, Responder, I found the lecture programming a bit weak. The best part of the cruise for us: the wonderful people we met. I never imagined a cruise demographic could be that old!

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I do have to add my 2cents with respect to Responders comments related to the included wine list. This was one of my greatest annoyances of my regent cruise. I could not find anyone who could provide a list of the included wines. They insisted on asking me what I wanted...well for some people this might be fine, but I want to see ALL the choices available and pick from that. I learned to find something that I liked and kept ordering it. However it took me 4 days to realize they had a French Rose from Provence available instead of the awful sweet California "blush" wine ( not sure why anyone even makes that wine but that is another matter!). I was particularly annoyed when I asked for the French Rose at the pool bar, which was being served to another table, but I was given significant attitude by the bar staff that it was a " special order". Well guess what, it's on the included wine list. After some negotiation, a bottle appeared. Most people would have walked away and accepted what they were told. Maybe they don't like to "advertise" what is available but rather push the cheaper choices and therefore keep costs under control. Alternatively, perhaps it is just inept management/service. Either way...enough ranting for now.

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I emphatically agree with Sunprince's comments about the "secret" included wines. Like Sunprince, we did not notice the existence of the French rose until a week or so into the cruise. Similarly, we did not know to order the La Crema pinot noir or the French sancerre until we saw it being served to other passengers in CR. If one did not ask for the La Crema pinot noir, one was served a vastly inferior example of that varietal, just as one would receive a cheaper pinot grigio if one did not ask for the Santa Margherita. Finally, in order to receive French champagne rather than sparkling wine, one had to specify the Montaudon.

 

This decidedly niggardly approach to "included" wine service is annoying at best and insulting at worst. Why should one have to know the secret handshake to have the privilege of being served the few decent wines in the included selection? Like many, I fear that this bean-counter approach to passenger service will continue to increase on Regent.

 

Another serious area of concern on our Mariner cruise was the dismal service and food quality in La Veranda, Sette Mari, and the pool grill. (Full disclosure here, as they say on F*x N*ws, we are not fans of buffet/cafeteria venues in general and therefore have a bias going into the venture.) The modus operandi of many servers in La Veranda at breakfast and lunch was to wander about never making eye contact with passengers at tables for fear of having to serve them in some fashion.

 

We have avoided Sette Mari in the past but were convinced by new cruising buddies to try it this time. Wow, first time and last time! Although the service was quite good when we arrived at 6:30 (the minute the place opened) and for about 30 minutes thereafter, the service truly fell off the cliff once the place was full. The woeful service was unfortunately matched by mediocre food (a risotto with no flavor whatever and totally overcooked to the point of being mushy, rather than al dente) to genuinely poor food (a cioppino that was inedible because the mussels and clams were decidedly "off").

 

All in all, although we enjoyed the cruise, as we enjoy all cruises, there was not the remotest element of "sparkle" or special experience. Like many, we are looking elsewhere (in our case, Crystal and Seabourn) now.

Edited by freddie
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Well, in hopes of gaining Regent's attention on the included wine issue, I'll add my two cents. I also asked for the included wine list on the first day. The wine waiter said I would get it in my room. Not. I asked again later and still never received the closely held secrets. Clearly, they wanted to serve certain wines and NOT others on the list. Several times we had to go thru the "only for you" routine when we asked for wines we knew were included. This is so obviously "cost cutting in action" that it is an insult to the luxury marketing hype. And to us. This kind of "in your face" treatment is a very negative experience and directly leads customers to reconsider their options. I don't want to slam the whole cruise, but this issue needs immediate action. I agree with others above that there must have been staff cuts in the dining rooms as they seemed overtaxed. This was our first TA and, as Responder said, there were some problems that created an excess of sea days. We learned we need to be proactive (activity wise) on a cruise with many sea days. There were good things: great housekeepers, a fun Country Fair, the last night Beatles rock night, Krew Kapers, Bond Martini night, enthusiastic entertainers and fun fellow cruisers.

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If anyone manages to obtain a copy of the Included Wine List, would you mind posting it here? That would be great. Thanks.

 

Please don't reveal this to our Regent surrogate, but I'm sure they've changed it somewhat after re-provisioning in Miami.

 

The way it works is that the bean counters whose only knowledge of wine is the cost, order the wine and give the head Sommelier the job of choosing the ones to pour as well as choosing the "recommended" wines to post on the menus each night.

 

Although they maintain the pretense of pairing wine with food and even have costly tastings and free ones, I would guess that 95% of the passengers think the posted wine is special for that night.

 

One of my favorites is one called Enamore..from Argentina..of course it's on the premium list...at $58.00...the cost here retail is about $20,00..their cost-no tax or duty is about $11-12....they sell it for $58.00....and I had to hear numerous times that Regent has the lowest markup on all their premium wines. Since I prefer my red wine at cellar temp..62-65F, I had to wait every night for my chosen wine to go into an ice bucket for 10 minutes. Their premium wine cellar does not store the wines at the correct temperature....so much for luxury.

 

I do have the list..they don't list vintages and not all were available from day one....If you post some sort of email address, for those who want it, I will scan it and send it to you.

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We were also on this cruise, unfortunately we took the included hotel. What a mistake we were so disappointed in the confusion at the hotel we took a cab to the port. Service on pool deck was dreadful in all aspects, as was service in Compass Rose. The one bright spot were our cabin stewards they did an excellent job. I feel the food has slipped badly on Mariner, side dishes served cold, poor quality pastries and desserts and as the cruise progressed lack of soft fruit, flowers etc. I feel we should be given some rebate for missing ports and having to endure 8 sea days in a row. It seemed to us that if you were not a gold or up seven seas member you just didn't count.

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Responder, I would like a copy if the included wine list please. Email is mom181us at yahoo dot com. Thanks so much.

I, too, would like a copy: misticdrive at comcast.net

 

And thanks for your candid assessments of the on-board experience. I find them very helpful and a necessary counterpoint to the usual gushing found here.

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I, too, would like a copy: misticdrive at comcast.net

 

And thanks for your candid assessments of the on-board experience. I find them very helpful and a necessary counterpoint to the usual gushing found here.

Comcast says this is not a good address..

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We were on the Mariner September 2013 and the service and food was excellent as it's always been. I find it hard to believe that quality has gone down in one year. Whenever we don't like the wine they are serving we ask for a different one. The somelier always ask what we like (pinor noir, malbec, merlot, whatever) and we get it. We'll be on the Mariner starting December 7th and I find hard to believe we'll be disappointed. I don't know, maybe we are not hard to please.

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We were on in June this year. I guess things could go downhill fast, but our cruise in June was one of the best. Food, service, excursions, wine were all fine. Won't be back on till Sept 2015 due to other travel plans and our son's upcoming wedding, so we will see then.

 

Mergers and acquisitions are stressful for everyone, even the lowliest employees. That stress maybe reflected in service issues, but hopefully will soon be resolved.

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