Cruising the British Isles, Part 1: The Seven Seas Voyager
I'm back from my vacation in the UK, the highlight of which was a British Isles cruise on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager. I'd like to relay my impressions of the ship in this newsletter, and next time I'll cover the pros and cons (if any) of cruising that region of the world, and tell you a bit about the ports and towns we visited.
Regent is one of four 6-star cruise lines, along with Crystal, Silversea and Seabourn. The Voyager is the second 6-star ship I have been fortunate enough to sample, along with the Crystal Symphony, and there really is something special about ships with these ratings. I certainly don't require 6 stars to be happy on a ship -- I've spent more time on ships rated 3 or 4 stars, and enjoyed every cruise -- but I can't help noticing the differences.
The first thing I noticed on the Voyager is how new she is, since the ship was launched just months before our cruise. Everything is immaculate, from the all-suite, all-balcony staterooms to the polished rails and glass elevators in the atrium. With a business to manage, I spend a lot of time in the Internet cafes on ships, and I especially appreciated the 30 work stations and 24-hours-a-day service that meant there was never any waiting to log on.
In fact, there was never any waiting anywhere. With only 1/3 or 1/4 of the total passengers of the megaships and a high space-per-passenger ratio, the Voyager has more than enough room to accommodate everyone. Open seating in the main dining room and two alternative restaurants -- plus a buffet and a poolside grill -- meant no shortage of tables at the morning buffet and no crowds lined up outside the dining room in the evening.
A key ingredient to any successful cruise, for most of us, is the food, and the food on board the Voyager was fantastic. Not just the food in the Le Cordon Bleu restaurant, Signatures, but also in the main dining room, every night. I almost literally never stopped eating, and by the end of the cruise I noticed a nearly imperceptible listing of the ship to the starboard side whenever I returned to my stateroom.
The service was equally outstanding, in all three of the dining rooms. Wine and beer are included at no extra charge at dinner, and while I am admittedly not an expert, I found the selections offered ranged from good to excellent.
I have never been on an inaugural cruise, but I have heard from many people who have, and I generally recommend waiting to sail until a new ship has been in service for a few shakedown cruises. The launch of a new ship requires people from around the world to be transported to the ship and thrown together in unfamiliar surroundings, asked to work extremely long hours, and smile while doing it. After a dry run or two with company brass on board, hundreds or thousands of guests are added to the mix, and it is common for a few glitches to occur. Ten weeks after its launch, there were no glitches on the Voyager, or none that I heard of. The ship was exceptionally well run, everything happened on schedule, and everything worked as advertised.
While it's true that 6-star cruises come at 6-star prices, it's important to remember that with Regent, wine and beer with dinner, a one-time liquor stocking in each stateroom, and all gratuities are included in the upfront price.
We currently have deep discounts on a wide variety of Regent sailings. If you've sampled the 5-star ships and are ready to step up -- or simply want to start at the top -- Regent is a great choice. Click here to read more about Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Click here to read more about the Seven Seas Voyager.
Vacations To Go
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Cruising the British Isles, Part 2: Ireland, Wales and Scotland
Cruising the British Isles, Part 3: Kirkwall, Invergordon & Edinburgh