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Phillygirl3

Has the quality of Regent's Shore Excursions changed?

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After having sailed with Regent and enjoying their shore excursions, I was surprised to see that their offerings for my upcoming cruise seemed to have diminished in quality.   On several sailings, we were offered onshore experiences that were interesting and many included a meal.  Now it appears that many shore excursion offerings, even those that are quite lengthy, state that one can find places to have lunch during the free time that is offered during that particular excursion.  Also, it seems as though Regent may be going the way of other cruise lines that have "Included" excursions, which means that the excursion is an overview, by bus, of the port or surrounding area, with, perhaps, a few stops for photo ops.  Am I alone in this perception?

Thank you for your feedback.

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We have been sailing on Regent regularly since 2009 and have not noticed a general change in the variety or quality of excursion offerings.

Most have been good; some exceptional; some fails.

 

The variety of excursions available does vary by country & port, so some itineraries do appear to have “better” or  more inclusive tours.

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15 hours ago, Phillygirl3 said:

After having sailed with Regent and enjoying their shore excursions, I was surprised to see that their offerings for my upcoming cruise seemed to have diminished in quality.   On several sailings, we were offered onshore experiences that were interesting and many included a meal.  Now it appears that many shore excursion offerings, even those that are quite lengthy, state that one can find places to have lunch during the free time that is offered during that particular excursion.  Also, it seems as though Regent may be going the way of other cruise lines that have "Included" excursions, which means that the excursion is an overview, by bus, of the port or surrounding area, with, perhaps, a few stops for photo ops.  Am I alone in this perception?

Thank you for your feedback.

IMO - I have found that for the most part, the quality of the excursions has diminished. It use to be that I was so excited to review the excursion offerings and had a difficult time choosing which one to select. The last few cruises I had trouble finding something that was fun and interesting in each port and started to leave excursions because I just found them boring. I have kept the excursion descriptions from all of the my cruises and reading the offerings from eight years ago to the ones currently offered provides insight in how much the included (because they are not "free") have changed. This was reinforced this past Thanksgiving when our family spends hours looking at each others travel and photo books (I take LOTS of pictures and have a book for each trip, with a daily synopsis discussing the photos) and other family members mentioned that some of my cruises looked great and others looked mediocre. Out of curiosity, I asked people to rank my books from most to least exciting and interesting. Overall, the consensus was that my cruises when Regent first started with included excursions were better than those of the last few years.

 

While there are still some great excursions to be had, they are few and far between and often booked and sold out immediately.

 

But then again, it depends what you want and expect - I am the type of person that when I travel, I like to absorb as much as possible and see new and exciting things and go to out of the way places. I also HATE shopping stops and long extended rest stops that are really nothing more than a shopping stop - it seems that there are more and more of theses. On a recent excursion, WE HAD JUST LEFT THE SHIP, when we stopped for a "rest stop", which turned into a 90 minute waste of time at a cameo jewelry "factory" - this was not on the itinerary and as a result, other aspects of the tour had to be eliminated.  Other passengers loved the unexpected stop at the cameo factory - it all depends what you like and expect.

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Evaluating excursions is somewhat akin to evaluating cuisine.  It depends, as described by earlier Posts re:  shopping mall stops inaccurately described as "Rest Stops".   To some--maddening (my spouse and I would default to that camp); to others, an unexpected and welcomed opportunity to sample local wares.   

 

Our experiences over the past 15+years with Raddison/Regent have been, more-or-less the same.  Mostly hits; one or two really-bad misses; and a few foul tips.  It really does depend on a ship's itinerary.  Not fair to compare a cruise involving stops at Central American ports to those offered in the 'Med, or Scandinavia.  

 

The cruise industry has evolved so-much over the past 15 years.  Now, gigantic mega-ships dumping up to, and exceeding 5,000 passengers, at a particular stop.  We have been berthed next to such in the 'Carib.  Just stay on the ship.  We have visited most of these stops in the past.  If in New Zealand and/or Norway-Sweden-Denmark area, have repeated more than one similar tour, due to our particular interests in history, art, music, just-marvelous scenery, or such.  The quality has been maintained.  

 

We never peg our expectations/hopes for an entire cruise segment based on a particular stop, with accompanying excursion.  Stuff can happen, like a revolution, volcanic eruption, hurricane/typhoon, or medical emergency to a passenger or crew member requiring the ship to deviate from the planned itinerary.  We have experienced all the aforementioned. 

 

All-in-all:  Regent's excursion product(s) have been a positive, whether "included" or requiring an additional charge.  

 

GOARMY!

 

 

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On 1/13/2020 at 9:46 PM, Phillygirl3 said:

After having sailed with Regent and enjoying their shore excursions, I was surprised to see that their offerings for my upcoming cruise seemed to have diminished in quality.   

Philly - may I ask where your upcoming cruise is taking you?  Some regions just don't have the variety and exclusiveness we're used to from other areas.  I'm specifically thinking about the Caribbean - the excursion offerings there are somewhat lame, but I think that's the region and not Regent.  Looking at what's available in Europe and the Pacific it still looks like there are quite a few awesome options available.

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We have 6 cruises with Regents.  As said above, the quality of the excursions is dependent upon the port.  We have had great included excursions on the Amazon, in Egypt and so on.  There was slim choices for such ports as Bar harbor and Caribbean ports.  We have always found something we wanted to do and even a panoramic bus ride can be very interesting.  Yes the time spent at souvenir shops can be frustrating, but that is also a good time to sit and do some people watching of the locals, but also, I have been frustrated after a nice cruise when I didn't get any souvenirs because the ports either didn't have much or we didn't find much. 

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UUNetBill, you are probably correct in saying that excursions may vary from mediocre to great, depending on the port of call.  To answer your question--our itinerary is a TA crossing from Barcelona to Montreal.  We have been to Barcelona a couple of times and know what we want to do there as well as when we are in Malaga.  But the Azores are new for us and the offerings in Quebec (which we have, also, been to) are not so great as well as in Bermuda.  However, we will go with the flow and figure it out as we go.  Thanks for your feedback!

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On 1/14/2020 at 1:17 PM, gnomie1 said:

IMO - I have found that for the most part, the quality of the excursions has diminished. It use to be that I was so excited to review the excursion offerings and had a difficult time choosing which one to select. The last few cruises I had trouble finding something that was fun and interesting in each port and started to leave excursions because I just found them boring.

 

While there are still some great excursions to be had, they are few and far between and often booked and sold out immediately.

 

But then again, it depends what you want and expect - I am the type of person that when I travel, I like to absorb as much as possible and see new and exciting things and go to out of the way places. I also HATE shopping stops and long extended rest stops that are really nothing more than a shopping stop - it seems that there are more and more of theses. On a recent excursion, WE HAD JUST LEFT THE SHIP, when we stopped for a "rest stop", which turned into a 90 minute waste of time at a cameo jewelry "factory" - this was not on the itinerary and as a result, other aspects of the tour had to be eliminated.  Other passengers loved the unexpected stop at the cameo factory - it all depends what you like and expect.

This has bee our experience as well. On our last Regent back to back cruise in December and January, Singapore to Singapore, followed by Singapore to Sydney, the excursions were mostly bad, and that included one we paid a large amount extra for. It was all about going slow, taking bathroom breaks, and shopping. A number of times we were delayed for half an hour or more because some on our tour did not return to the bus - sorry, they were shopping and the buys were so good. We also had long stops added at a pottery factory and an embroidery factory, which were very long, and gave us very little time at the more interesting stops at temples and museums that we had looked forward to. Most excursions left 45 minutes to an hour late due to bus loading and unloading time, and a few times, Regent kept the restaurants open late for lunch since the morning excursions didn't start returning to the ship until after 2 PM.

A few times, when given a chance, those on the excursion were consulted about stops, and their length. The majority did not want lengthy shopping stops, but if just one asked for it, we had at least a moderate shopping stop. We also had people asking for bathroom stops as soon as the bus left the cruise terminal, and we quickly stopped at a place with a bathroom, and the rest of us were told we could get off and shop while waiting.

How do we stop this and get real excursions? I don't know. It seems that too many of those onboard are just looking for a comfortable Air Conditioned bus ride, with some shopping and bathroom stops and a chance to stop for coffee and a snack ... probably the same thing they enjoy at home.

We had one paid excursion that we was over 300 dollars for the 2 of us. The excursion that we had signed up for was cancelled at the last minute for unknown reasons. This one was added at the last minute, and though it cost slightly more,  it sounded enjoyable, with a catamaran sail to a reef, a BBQ lunch and snorkeling. It was a cattle boat, with more guests (just over 60) than seats, and a very cheap lunch (salad, cake, and hamburgers, hot dogs and a limited amount of chicken and fish, cooked on a home size gas grill that was next to where the dinghy was loading and unloading snorkelers, making for a few minor burns). There was beer onboard, but those that snorkeled had to wait until the sail back to have any. Nearly everyone onboard snorkeled, although many had no experience, and snorkeling from a dinghy (transporting only 8 to 10 at a time) in an area with current isn't easy for a novice. The snorkeling was nothing special, and the safety of those in the water was suspect since there was only 1 person watching all of the snorkelers while they were in the water. We've done many trips like this in the South Pacific and the Caribbean, and they were all better, and less expensive. Some of them were on our own from land-based vacations, but some were cruise excursions that we paid for on cruise lines that don't include any included excursions.

 

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The above post is exactly why I will never sail Regent unless they get rid of the included excursions which add a lot to the cost of the cruise and actually diminish its appeal. Personally. I hate bus tours (for many of the same reasons quoted above) and find private excursions more reasonable and I can control everything.

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On 1/13/2020 at 9:46 PM, Phillygirl3 said:

After having sailed with Regent and enjoying their shore excursions, I was surprised to see that their offerings for my upcoming cruise seemed to have diminished in quality.   On several sailings, we were offered onshore experiences that were interesting and many included a meal.  Now it appears that many shore excursion offerings, even those that are quite lengthy, state that one can find places to have lunch during the free time that is offered during that particular excursion.  Also, it seems as though Regent may be going the way of other cruise lines that have "Included" excursions, which means that the excursion is an overview, by bus, of the port or surrounding area, with, perhaps, a few stops for photo ops.  Am I alone in this perception?

Thank you for your feedback.

I couldn't agree with you more Phillygirl3. As a matter of fact I asked something rather similar on June 24, 2019 calling the entry Ho-hum Excursions. Many folks chimed in basically saying the quality of the excursions were dependent of the ports and that is

understandable. We are taking two Regent cruises this year so hopefully the excursions we selected will hit the mark for us.

Certainly the couple of excursions  that we are paying extra for should be a step above the included ( free) excursions. One 

is a train ride in Taormina and a meal at a family farm.  It sure sounds good, so let's hope.

 

 

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We feel the quality of the excursions has greatly gone down over the years. Most of the time we now do private excursions if I am able to find a tour guide that comes highly reccomended. Have had good luck . I agree with others who have stated that they wish they would give credit or not include free excursions and reduce the cruise price. 

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We feel the quality of the excursions has greatly gone down over the years. Most of the time we now do private excursions if I am able to find a tour guide that comes highly reccomended. Have had good luck . I agree with others who have stated that they wish they would give credit or not include free excursions and reduce the cruise price. 

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@Phillygirl3, If I had been asked this question when we took our first Regent cruise to the Mediterranean seven years ago, I would have completely agreed. The included excursions and guides were just okay, and we never sailed with Regent again until our recent cruise on the Voyager from Barcelona to Dubai. This time, however, it was a completely different experience. The included excursions were wonderful, the small group excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem was fantastic and the overnight to Luxor was led by a guide who was a fabulous as any private guide we've had. The one disappointing guide we had in Petra and Wadi Rum didn't really impact us because the excursion itself was such a delight.

 

I think @UUNetBill and @mj_holiday make a great point about regional differences in tours. I also think that may be true for itineraries and the enthusiasm of our fellow passengers. The travelers on our excursions seemed interested in learning and seeing and doing as much as possible. There was a lot of interesting conversation and interaction with the guides as well as with each other. It was truly an engaging experience.

 

Best of luck , and I hope you have some wonderful excursions!
Mary

Travel Blog: https://www.themodernpostcard.com

 

 

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