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kjbacon

Reviews and Recommendations for our Explorer Caribbean Cruise

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Part One
 

We are recently back from a 14 night Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Explorer, January 28, 2020. We were joined by our Viking loyalist friends who were new to Regent and a wonderful time was had by all. While we look forward to our next Regent cruises, it did fall a little short of expectations and it was not enough to change the minds of our friends who plan to stay with Viking. When we compare this to our previous trips, both on the Explorer, this was not quite to that standard.

 

One of the areas that was disappointing was the lack of training for new staff. Each and every staff member had that special Regent way about them that we’ve all come to appreciate so much. I do think that most of them will be just fine, but for now it can be a little frustrating when there are language barriers and a lack of understanding. We felt that way too many experienced people were whisked off to the Splendor. We saw improvements in just the two weeks that we were there so it should resolve itself.

 

Another problem area was the 3-4 days mid cruise when they stepped up the sanitation measures by disallowing self serve in the buffet areas. I am all for the disallowance of self serve but the problem is that it was not done well. They were totally unprepared to do it and did not communicate what was going on at all. The inexperienced staff trying to pull it off made for some “interesting” breakfasts and lunches. Really, no one knew what was going on, either the why’s or the how’s. Many fellow guests were plenty cranky about it with the staff and with other guests. We were caught off guard when they started it with little or no explanation and caught just as off guard when it stopped a few days later with little or no explanation. Some theorized that there was a sick person on board being tested for who knows what but I do not know that to be true. The Pool Grill was closed for breakfast and dinner during those days, creating its own problem. At lunch, while they tried their best to serve the guests, the placemats were not changed or cleaned between diners and the condiment caddies were still carried from table to table when someone wanted ketchup for their French fries, kinda defeating the point.

 

Please, please, please - sanitize and wash your hands frequently! Nothing is more important to prevent the spread of germs. I would love to see Regent consider putting a staff member at each sanitizer and requiring everyone to use it both entering and exiting the public areas. 
 

One of the most successful areas was the food. It was fabulous! This was one area that our friends definitely felt that Regent outshined Viking. I’m telling you, bring a couple outfits that are too big for you because you will need them no matter how strong your resolve is to not gain weight. Breakfast and lunch in La Veranda was consistently good but slow when ordering a special instead of staying with the buffet items. The days that you couldn’t serve yourself were very, very slow! There was always good variety at lunch and the food was very fresh. The salad options were fantastic. The carving station featured something wonderful daily from prime rib to roast turkey to salmon en croute. The Pool Grill for lunch was also fantastic and along with the regular favorites like burgers and lobster nachos, often featured a special themed section like Greek BBQ or Curries of the World (my favorite lunch of the voyage, amazing). 


We had dinner at Compass Rose twice and the meals were excellent both nights. One night we ate in the noisy main section but thanks to suggestions here on the boards, we asked to be in the quieter back section the next time which we strongly preferred. The always available menu cannot be beat and the specials are great too. Service was excellent and the tableset is just beautiful.

 

We had dinner twice in Chartreuse and had our best meal here and our worst meal here. Not sure I quite understand it either but that’s what happened! The second time we had dinner there, our appetizers took about an hour to come out and to his credit, the chef came out and personally apologized. The quality of the meal was off as well as slow so perhaps they were short staffed. Still, wines are especially good here as it the cheese cart, not to be missed. Overall, good food if inconsistent, great service, and be sure to save a little room for the macaroon.

 

Part Two later!

 

 

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A very nice job reporting in from the Explorer. We'll be on her in April doing the TA.

Looking forward to your further reports! Glad you had a good time!

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Thanks for taking the time, nice fair report.  You did have some not so good times, but maybe more better times.  Glad to hear about the food as that is an important part of the cruise.  Enjoy reading, thanks.

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We were on the same cruise with you.  I believe not only were many crew new, but they were understaffed for the full passenger load. Waiting for almost a half hour for a cheeseburger at the pool grill, if you could find a table, was not good.

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We are on Splendor now and SO miss the cheese cart in Chartreuse.   We were told that the cart "is too big" to bring to the tables so we were served plated cheese selections of the day

Edited by Kwaj girl

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  • ut oh....plated cheese? Sorry to hear that. As far as we're concerned the best cheese comes from a cart, freshly cut and generally the correct temp. To be honest, I don't think we've ever done the cheese cart on the Explorer....don't know why, but somehow missed it. So far the best ever cheese cart (for us anyway) is the one in the Grills on the QM2. Not a fan of the ship in any way, but the cheese is to die for. John has still to get over their stilton....
  •  

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21 minutes ago, Kwaj girl said:

We are on Splendor now and SO miss the cheese cart in Chartreuse.   We were told that the cart "is too big" to bring to the tables so we were served plated cheese selections of the day

So disappointing the Cheese cart is one of the few redeeming features of Chartreuse. My wife is not a blue cheese fan and so the daily selection does not give her the range she would select herself.

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The lack of a cheese cart is very disappointing.  I like to pick out my own selection—sometimes I just want a whole lot of one type which I particularly like.  I hate being wasteful, but when brought plates cheese, I generally don’t eat all.

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15 hours ago, Kwaj girl said:

We are on Splendor now and SO miss the cheese cart in Chartreuse.   We were told that the cart "is too big" to bring to the tables so we were served plated cheese selections of the day

Need to buy/ make a smaller cart?

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Whoa ... was getting ready to start Part two when I see that the cheese cart is eliminated on the Splendor?? That is terrible news! That cheese cart is consistently one of the highlights of the cruise and one of the (few) areas that our friends found better on Regent over Viking.

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There are small cheese carts.  But if the daily selection is listed on the menu - or if the waiter knows what is available - surely one can request one or more of them and not have to have them all?   I certainly hope the cheese is served at the right temperature.  Nothing worse than cold cheese (except perhaps warm beer?).

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Part Two

 

Taking an intermission from food to talk about the ports and the shore excursions. We selected this cruise for the ports, particularly the ABC Islands, which did not disappoint. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao were all quite beautiful and clean with friendly, laid back locals. This is a snorkeler’s paradise and we loved our snorkel trips at each of these islands. Curaçao was our very favorite port of the trip and would lean toward another itinerary with Curaçao. We walked around town in the morning on our own and it was safe, immaculate, and interesting. The locals are not allowed to harass you! They are welcoming and friendly but never pushy. We saw all kinds of neat shops and restaurants as well as a very cool rotating foot bridge. We did our own excursion here and toured the island by boat, then went to the Tugboat Reef to snorkel. This was my husband’s favorite excursion of the trip.


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We also went snorkeling in Dominica. Since our tour picked us up by sailboat just steps from the ship, I can’t comment with knowledge about the island. I can say that our excursion was absolutely fabulous and my personal favorite excursion of our trip. It was called Champagne Snorkel and everyone loved it! Great sailing and a great team took us to Champagne Reef where the the natural hot springs and volcanic gasses send millions of champagne like bubbles into the water. I felt like I was in a Disney movie! We also saw a great variety of fish, corals, and plants. How I wished I had an underwater camera! It did look like a pretty little town as we sailed back.

 

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This is the perfect time to give kudos to the excellent Destination Services team. They work their butts off and somehow manage to stay calm and cheerful, even when there are tons of people at the desk making changes or when half the crowd does not listen to them when they are trying to get us off the ship and onto our excursions. I don’t know how they do it.

 

We were very tired after several days of hiking and snorkeling so I went to Destination Services to cancel or change our Champagne Snorkel excursion to something less strenuous. Tehani, a beautiful young lady (inside and out) who also helped us a great deal on our last two cruises, coaxed me not to. She told me how special this excursion was and that she thought I would love it. It would have been easier for her to just make a quick switch but she really cared and it turned out that she was right ... it was my very favorite excursion of the trip.

 

Our least favorite ports were St Lucia and Grenada. I talked about St Lucia in my live blog so enough said there except to add that our guide was the make or break on that tour. Since it is such a long bus ride, a good guide would really help and we had the worst of the worst. 

 

Grenada is not the port to disembark on your own and wander around town. I cannot say how the island is beyond the immediate port area but I can say that if you go, absolutely only venture out on a ship scheduled shore excursion. As you’ve gathered, we decided to discover Grenada on our own because we were too beat to go kayaking and we regretted it. It’s sad to report that it was very dirty, to the point of unsanitary, crowded and loud, with the most aggressive locals I can remember. I came within inches of getting pickpocketed or maybe worse but fortunately I’m a Philly girl and my early instincts took over. Yes, YO came barreling out of my mouth and our husbands (one a former boxer and Marine) who were ahead of us stopped and came immediately to the rescue. That was enough for us and we went back to the ship and made it a relaxing sea day. It would be smart for Regent to encourage guests not to wander on their own in Grenada, especially given our demographic. Let’s face it, we are an older, affluent group that might not be well equipped for a mugging!

 

We weren’t able to go to the Private Island so I can’t comment. We were disappointed but we made the best of it and got a fabulous couples massage instead.

 

We liked St Kitts but if we find ourselves back at that port, we would take the day trip to Nevis instead of spending another day there. We liked St Maarten very much and would be happy to return for another day there. We enjoyed our self guided walk around town and our excursion to Maho Beach in the afternoon.

 

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To sum it up, very good ports and great excursions with a great team that is happy to help you. Also, I should add that if you aren’t able to get your first choice of excursion, take advantage of the waitlist. Regent adds tours and really works to accommodate you.


Part three to follow!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/16/2020 at 8:01 AM, kjbacon said:

One of the areas that was disappointing was the lack of training for new staff. Each and every staff member had that special Regent way about them that we’ve all come to appreciate so much. I do think that most of them will be just fine, but for now it can be a little frustrating when there are language barriers and a lack of understanding. We felt that way too many experienced people were whisked off to the Splendor. We saw improvements in just the two weeks that we were there so it should resolve itself.

 

 

We were on Explorer last June, and were blown away by what a smooth running machine their whole operation was. It was obvious that the staff had worked together for a long enough time that they knew each other's "moves." It could not have been better, in our opinions. We talked to several of our favorites who told us they were moving to Splendor. It made us sad that they were breaking up such a great team, but such is life. Hopefully the new staff is integrated soon.

 

Glad to hear that the food remained great.

 

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KJBacon - thank you so much for your blog, photos and review of your cruise on Explorer. We cruise on her (?) in August, albeit on a rather different itinerary, the Baltic, but a lot of your comments will, I am sure, transform into very useful advice.

Thanks again and greetings from a very soggy Northern Ireland

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I'm going to give a shout out for the cheese cart on the QM2.  It's fabulous and far superior to the Regent offering.  The Stilton is to die for and the Cheddar is sumptuous.  For some reason, Regent doesn't do any tableside flambé or deboning.

 

Generally, the Regent food is superior and has greater variety.  It's just not on fire next to your table.   The cheese selection...meh.

 

 

Edited by orvil

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1 hour ago, orvil said:

I'm going to give a shout out for the cheese cart on the QM2.  It's fabulous and far superior to the Regent offering.  The Stilton is to die for and the Cheddar is sumptuous.  For some reason, Regent doesn't do any tableside flambé or deboning.

 

Generally, the Regent food is superior and has greater variety.  It's just not on fire next to your table.   The cheese selection...meh.

 

 

I agree with your comment on Regent's food. In general it's better, although I must admit, we've had some lovely dinners on the QM2 and as far as I'm concerned, the cheese cart/selection is the best in the business, however .Crystal used to come pretty close when they actually used a cart.

I still find it hard to believe there is no cart in Chartruese on the Splendor....maybe it's on back order...giggle!

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I see what you mean about the cheese cart not fitting in Chartreuse. Plus, it looks like the selection may be pretty limited. 

Z and TB

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27 minutes ago, Mudhen said:

I agree with your comment on Regent's food. In general it's better, although I must admit, we've had some lovely dinners on the QM2 and as far as I'm concerned, the cheese cart/selection is the best in the business, however .Crystal used to come pretty close when they actually used a cart.

I still find it hard to believe there is no cart in Chartruese on the Splendor....maybe it's on back order...giggle!

 

Oh, there IS a cheese cart - just way too big and heavy to move around the dining room.  Will try to get a photo & post it.

And Regent DOES debone your Dover Sole tableside!

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13 minutes ago, Zqueeze1 said:

I see what you mean about the cheese cart not fitting in Chartreuse. Plus, it looks like the selection may be pretty limited. 

Z and TB

FE5B525B-BDC5-4946-90FF-D9EB9316D537.jpeg.4c46e5814436c1e23c6e38d3d95d77b3.jpeg

FUNNY!!!!

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28 minutes ago, bebop bonnie said:

FUNNY!!!!

Still laughing about this one!

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20 hours ago, Kwaj girl said:

 

Oh, there IS a cheese cart - just way too big and heavy to move around the dining room.  Will try to get a photo & post it.

And Regent DOES debone your Dover Sole tableside!

New cheese cart in Chartreuse on Splendor 

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More like a cheese caboose  than a cart....what were they thinking?

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