Jump to content

A Terrific but Different Cruise


Recommended Posts

 

 

We just returned from the 14 night Cape Town to Rio cruise aboard the Explorer. We had a terrific time but it was a somewhat different cruise than the previous 13 cruises that we did on Regent (it was our 4th on the Explorer). It is being offered again in January 2021 but on the Voyager.

It did not sell well! Probably because: Cape Town is far from U.S. and Canada; it was near the Christmas holidays; and it followed 2 very popular Regent African cruises. After promotions and up-sells, we had only 632 passengers aboard. I was told by the GM, that there were 23 nationalities including 137 Brits (seemed to me like there were more). As expected, it was an older, well-traveled crowd- a ghost ship after 11PM other than the Casino.

What we loved: First, a Disclaimer – we are BIG FANS of Regent. The Explorer is our favorite ship and with only 632 passengers, it sometimes felt like our private yacht! I had been concerned that Regent might cut back on activities on so lightly-loaded cruise but a “Shout Out” to Regent there was more great  activities than we had time to do (we never got to our planned Bridge playing).

Captain Serena lived up to her reputation; she appeared often and was very sociable. Thanks to Captain Serena finding an alternate tender dock, we were able to visit St. Helena – a unexpectedly great port-of-call.

Margaret Lynn, our favorite CD was a joy – as usual; Nicola, the Social Hostess was superb (we heard that there more than the usual number of single travelers). We played Mensa and Trivia every day. We also participated in the “Build –a – Boat” and the “Door Decorating” contests. DW was active participant in the needle point meetings that Nicola directed.

The “Lecturers” (Hugh Neighbors and Terry Breen) are world class; they knew their interesting topics and had terrific delivery styles. They were delightfully engaging when approached on the ship.

The entertainers were the best collection that we have had on our cruises. I’ll skip the superlatives that I should use and say that we had for separate performances that were WOWs: the “Piano Man”, a male tenor, a female vocalist, the “Confusionist”; and a classical guitarist. Margaret Lynn chimed-in with a rousing country music lounge act focused on the women of country music. The “World Beat” show by the young production cast was stunning for high energy, beautiful dancing with vivid costuming and scenic backgrounds.

As reported in a posting earlier, we loved our Explorer Suite.

What we liked: Compass Rose topped our list of special “likes”.  I’d say that I eat better dinners at home (DW is a great cook and a superb baker) but the variety of delicious food options available in CR is unbeatable. DW loves being “pampered” and not having to cook. A nice touch was the availability of good South African wines throughout our cruise.

Light lunches in Prime 7 and Chartreuse on sea days were a treat – very different menu than dinner.

The “Seals and Dolphins” excursion in Walvis Bay was great fun and was, to us, worth the additional $49 p.p. Fresh oysters, finger food, and local drinks were served and the guide was terrific when we were boarded by a seal who decided to stay for about an hour.

With so many sea days, I did some things that I hadn’t done on previous Explorer cruises. I toured all passenger decks and enjoyed all the beautiful photographic art (highly recommended for exercisers). I also used all the special showers/sauna/cold-room in the Spa area – great fun.

Disappointments: Regent charging an additional $79 p.p. for the “Swakopmund Sightseeing” excursion seemed inappropriate – it was a very mundane tour with nothing special included. Hope that this isn’t a Regent pricing trend!

For us, Setti Mare has outlived its attraction (at least on the Explorer). Maybe others will start a thread and chime in on suggestions for Regent’s consideration.

Other Thoughts: I’ll post separately about 1) flights to Cape Town and from Rio {Spoiler Alert: it was horrendous} and 2) the pre-cruise “Winelands and Wildlife {Spoiler Alert: it was delightful}.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For "travel far-one way" cruises 632 pax sound about right. Regent never seem to fill these up.  Also the longer time the segment the less passengers. I just returned from the 2 segment circle Australia on the Mariner. Seg 1 was about 420 and Seg 2 was about 500. Alaska, The Med, Baltic and Caribbean is where Regent seem to make it big money.

 

Sorry the hear that Regent is charging extra to go to Swakopmund. Seems out of line. There is nothing that special to see there and it is not that terribly far form the port.

 

J

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - what a great review!  We have done that itinerary twice.  The second time we had three passengers that needed medical attention so we had to skip St. Helena which was disappointing.  This is definitely not a cruise that people with medical issues should try as the ship is usually too far from any cities where a helicopter can rescue a passenger.  In my opinion, this is something that is very important to know.  

 

Very disappointed to learn that Swakopmund Sightseeing had a charge as well as a charge for “Seals and Dolphins”.  We have done both excursions twice and loved them both.  The Swakopmund Sightseeing was enlightening and we wished that Regent had let us know how much the schools need computers.  We would have brought laptops (used but still in good working condition) with us.

 

On the positive side, we wish that we could sail with Captain Serena on every cruise.  We only met Margaret Lynn onboard Mariner when we visited friends in Vancouver.  She seems lovely.

 

Thank you so much for posting your review!

Link to post
Share on other sites

TS:  Great details.  A real benefit for folks considering this itinerary. 

 

Been there, and did that (along with Travelcat2) aboard Mariner in Dec. 2015.  Our pre-cruise was a three-day Safari at Camp Figtree, outside Port Elizabeth while visiting Addo Elephant National Preserve.  That experience was magical--and worth the whole cruise.  (Actually, "no additional charge".)   Well, sure. 

 

Yep, missed St. Helena.  That was a disappointment.  But--passenger safety is THE primary concern.  Did the Swakopmund Tour. No charge, as best I remember.  But, a long, and really not too interesting experience. 

 

As to getting to Cape Town:  Our TA suggested arriving early--like three days early.  Good advice.  Fortunately, our en route experience was 1st Class:  Delta, SEATAC to Amsterdam; then KLM to Cape Town.  Great hotel--Victoria and Albert--in the port district; before transfer to Regent's hotel in anticipation of the pre-cruise segment to Camp Figtree.  Plenty of time to adjust to the Southern Hemisphere.  Good vibe at Cape Town.  Also, great exchange rate. 

 

Altogether, another positive cruising experience. But, probably not to be repeated. 

 

Just be prepared--and go early when planning a similar cruise involving Cape Town. 

 

GOARMY!

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there Bill,  we were on this cruise so really interested to read the rest of your review.  

It was great to meet up with yourself and Mary.

Agree with all so far !!  although we did enjoy our 1 visit to Sette Mare.

Agree about entertainment, the best we have ever had on a cruise by far.

We too did the Seals & Dolphin tour in Walvis Bay but it didn't cost anything, it was a Regent included tour.

 

Highlight for us was St. Helena.

 

Lowlight for us was Rio. We have been before and love it but we thought the Regent organisation with tours, last day arrangement were total chaos.

 

I look forward to part 2.

Joyce

Link to post
Share on other sites

Deepfreeze - we were originally booked on this cruise but had to beg off when the reality of the travel time sunk in.  We both still work and the additional time bracketing the cruise just didn’t work for us this year...although we’re seriously eyeballing the 2021 sailing...

 

I believe we met briefly on Explorer in 2017 in Compass Rose, I think it would have been April?  If not April, then August.  I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures on this trip. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

One additional comment to my previous posting, and after reviewing a subsequent entry concerning "landing" in Rio at the conclusion of a cruise.  This may benefit CCs considering any itinerary which puts you at Rio at the end of that cruise. 

 

Fair Warning:  My suggestion as to late-night ship debarkation to the Rio Airport--rather than staying aboard and waiting until the next-morning--needs to be thought out way in advance.  Like, a year in advance. 

 

That December, 2015 Mariner sailing which originated at Cape Town did arrive at Rio--ONE DAY early.  Why?  Because of a medical emergency which occurred while we were transiting to St. Helena.  No stop.  CPT advised need to proceed "with all possible speed" (Not kidding--heard the announcement) directly to Rio.  O.K.  This is just one of those things which will happen, eventually, to short or long-time cruisers.  Stuff of all sorts will occur.

 

When scheduling that particular cruise in mid-2014, noted a planned overnight at Rio.  This is typical, to allow folks who may not have visited Rio earlier to have the opportunity for excursions.  Makes sense, as another "draw" to signing up.  In our case--two prior extended visits to Rio.  One on Regent; one on Holland America.  So, we had no reason to repeat those excursions.  Therefore:

 

Our TA suggested arranging air itinerary to allow debarking that night while still in Rio.  Taxi to Airport.  Red Eye back to the USA.  This would allow us to return to our Redmond, WA home two days, rather than one day, before Christmas Eve. Of course, at that time, no indication that we would arrive early at Rio, anyway. 

 

Therefore, with Regent's approval, we booked a Delta flight departing Rio at 2300H direct to Atlanta.  Then, enough time for baggage transfer for a N/S to SEATAC.  Bottom line is that wife and I were back at our residence one extra day before the normal airport crush related to Christmas.  This was a Win-win for us and Regent.  We enjoyed that last night dinner at Compass Rose; then vacated our Suite allowing Staff to prepare our quarters for the next occupants way-early. 

 

Regent coordinated arranging for a Taxi; had Staff help move our luggage from ship to that Taxi; and confirmed fare to the Airport.  Waited in a Lounge before boarding that 1st Class flight to Atlanta. Same service level back to SEATAC.  Again:  This may not work for everyone. Just a consideration, which may apply to some.  But, it must be planned way, way in advance. 

 

Bottom line is:  why wait until that next morning for debarkation together with several hundred folks, when, particularly on situations where many options are available.  This must be coordinated far in advance. 

 

Suggestion:  Look at a specific itinerary. Determine possibility of early departure (last night while still-onboard).  Review air itineraries for return to North America (or Europe) allowing this early bye-bye.  This has been a key element in every cruise we have scheduled when coordinating same with our valued TA. 

 

Yet another reason to have a TA with experience in this particular nuance who can coordinate same with Regent. 

 

Best, 

 

GOARMY!

 

 

 

  

Link to post
Share on other sites

One additional comment to my previous posting, and after reviewing a subsequent entry concerning "landing" in Rio at the conclusion of a cruise.  This may benefit CCs considering any itinerary which puts you at Rio at the end of that cruise. 

 

Fair Warning:  My suggestion as to late-night ship debarkation to the Rio Airport--rather than staying aboard and waiting until the next-morning--needs to be thought out way in advance.  Like, a year in advance. 

 

That December, 2015 Mariner sailing which originated at Cape Town did arrive at Rio--ONE DAY early.  Why?  Because of a medical emergency which occurred while we were transiting to St. Helena.  No stop.  CPT advised need to proceed "with all possible speed" (Not kidding--heard the announcement) directly to Rio.  O.K.  This is just one of those things which will happen, eventually, to short or long-time cruisers.  Stuff of all sorts will occur.

 

When scheduling that particular cruise in mid-2014, noted a planned overnight at Rio.  This is typical, to allow folks who may not have visited Rio earlier to have the opportunity for excursions.  Makes sense, as another "draw" to signing up.  In our case--two prior extended visits to Rio.  One on Regent; one on Holland America.  So, we had no reason to repeat those excursions.  Therefore:

 

Our TA suggested arranging air itinerary to allow debarking that night while still in Rio.  Taxi to Airport.  Red Eye back to the USA.  This would allow us to return to our Redmond, WA home two days, rather than one day, before Christmas Eve. Of course, at that time, no indication that we would arrive early at Rio, anyway. 

 

Therefore, with Regent's approval, we booked a Delta flight departing Rio at 2300H direct to Atlanta.  Then, enough time for baggage transfer for a N/S to SEATAC.  Bottom line is that wife and I were back at our residence one extra day before the normal airport crush related to Christmas.  This was a Win-win for us and Regent.  We enjoyed that last night dinner at Compass Rose; then vacated our Suite allowing Staff to prepare our quarters for the next occupants way-early. 

 

Regent coordinated arranging for a Taxi; had Staff help move our luggage from ship to that Taxi; and confirmed fare to the Airport.  Waited in a Lounge before boarding that 1st Class flight to Atlanta. Same service level back to SEATAC.  Again:  This may not work for everyone. Just a consideration, which may apply to some.  But, it must be planned way, way in advance. 

 

Bottom line is:  why wait until that next morning for debarkation together with several hundred folks, when, particularly on situations where many options are available.  This must be coordinated far in advance. 

 

Suggestion:  Look at a specific itinerary. Determine possibility of early departure (last night while still-onboard).  Review air itineraries for return to North America (or Europe) allowing this early bye-bye.  This has been a key element in every cruise we have scheduled when coordinating same with our valued TA. 

 

Yet another reason to have a TA with experience in this particular nuance who can coordinate same with Regent. 

 

Best, 

 

GOARMY!

 

 

 

  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Folks:  I have no explanation as to why there was a duplicate posting of my comments--with all the A's.  Await clarification on this from other CCers or those in higher authority. 

 

Anyway--just consider my suggestion. 

 

Regards,

 

GOARMY!

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

We also enjoyed the Cape Town to Rio cruise with DeepFreeze63 and jollyjoyce – it was a wonderful cruise, especially for those of us who really love the sea days.  This was our third TA crossing on the Explorer and it had the calmest seas and the nicest weather we have ever experienced on a TA – Like DeepFreeze63, we spent a lot of time on the veranda just enjoying the ocean. 

We love the Explorer, and it lived up to expectations in every regard – wonderful friendly staff, great food, beautiful cabins and public areas, and plenty of things to do, or not do, during the 8 sea days.  Do agree that the St Helena tour and the Walvis Bay Seals and Dolphin excursions were highlights of the cruise.

I can’t confirm DeepFreeze63’s claim about Explorer being a “ghost ship after 11PM”, we were never able to stay up that late…

One unique Cruise Critic aspect of this cruise is that we had two Mix and Mingle gatherings.  It seems that Regent did not get a complete list of those that had signed up for the M&M and when the golfgirls inquired about what had happened, GM Massimo offered to hold another M&M for those on-board.  Both were great and a big thank you to the golfgirls and Massimo for setting that up.

Now just counting the days until we’re back on the Explorer – 290!

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Eno-Bob said:

We also enjoyed the Cape Town to Rio cruise with DeepFreeze63 and jollyjoyce – it was a wonderful cruise, especially for those of us who really love the sea days.  This was our third TA crossing on the Explorer and it had the calmest seas and the nicest weather we have ever experienced on a TA – Like DeepFreeze63, we spent a lot of time on the veranda just enjoying the ocean. 

 

We love the Explorer, and it lived up to expectations in every regard – wonderful friendly staff, great food, beautiful cabins and public areas, and plenty of things to do, or not do, during the 8 sea days.  Do agree that the St Helena tour and the Walvis Bay Seals and Dolphin excursions were highlights of the cruise.

 

I can’t confirm DeepFreeze63’s claim about Explorer being a “ghost ship after 11PM”, we were never able to stay up that late…

 

One unique Cruise Critic aspect of this cruise is that we had two Mix and Mingle gatherings.  It seems that Regent did not get a complete list of those that had signed up for the M&M and when the golfgirls inquired about what had happened, GM Massimo offered to hold another M&M for those on-board.  Both were great and a big thank you to the golfgirls and Massimo for setting that up.

 

Now just counting the days until we’re back on the Explorer – 290!

 

Totally agree with every word.

The only night we stayed up later was the 1st Karaoke night....it was great fun!!

 We didn't make it to the 2nd  M & M but the 1st was great and nice to meet folks....and we did eventually  find out why there weren't many at the 1st !

Loved our 1st Regent cruise unreservedly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Thank You for 25 Years - Click for Fun Stuff!
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: American Queen Steamboat Company - Celebrate Your Freedom
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com - June 2021
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...