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ON cruiser

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About ON cruiser

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    Cool Cruiser

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  • Location
    Toronto, Canada
  • Interests
    reading, dog-walking, community affairs
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America
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  1. Hi Taxare, glad you are enjoying your cruise and that the newish staff have, by now, finally been trained up. Good to know that those on board now and ongoing should likely not have the issues that we (and others who posted who were either on board with us, or on the next cruise immediately after ours) unfortunately experienced. You could say that those of us who came before you helped to get the staff trained. Too bad, however, that we had to pay for that privilege. In my view, all passengers should be able to expect and enjoy a "finished product" instead of a "work in progress". What we had was a "work in progress". Adding insult to injury, given the perfunctory response received in response to our comments provided to senior management, this was apparently deemed by Regent to be acceptable. Lesson learned. Enjoy your final few days onboard.
  2. Thanks for the (mostly) positive feedback. I guess the old adage still applies when planning a cruise: "it pays to shop around". Happy travels in 2020!
  3. Hello folks, we have recently branched out from HAL (after achieving our five stars). We have had some good experiences yet, as you will see if you care to read this "cut and paste" of my review on CC of our Regent Voyager cruise, not always. Consider this perhaps as a cautionary tale--more inclusive is not always better. Moreover, the way our concerns were handled (sloughed off) by Regent, really annoys. At least with HAL when we have brought concerns to their attention, we felt our voices were heard. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Disappointing--lots of glitches; not up to standard Seven Seas Voyager Cruise Review by ON cruiser 3 people found this helpful Trip Details Sail Date: November 2019 Destination: Asia In Autumn 2018 we travelled from Athens to Dubai on Seabourn. For Fall 2019 my wife wanted us to complete the journey, starting in Dubai and ending in Singapore. So we picked Regent's Voyager for that 20 day journey, beginning November 16, 2019. A bit about us: we are later middle-aged, and one of us still works with, happily, a generous vacation allotment which allows usually two cruises yearly. We find that cruises are the busy persons perfect holiday: unpack once, enjoy (usually) luxurious food and service, and see some interesting places...or, during the harsh Canadian winter, just enjoy a Caribbean "sloth" cruise for some sun and warmth! We are five star with Holland America yet decided a few years ago to branch out into the more "all-inclusive" world, where not everything is ala carte, requiring a chit to be signed. This is not to say that we would not return to HAL for the right itinerary. HAL does a lot of things right, after all. We also have had two cruises with Seabourn (my reviews no doubt can be found on this site). The first was just "good", yet Seabourn senior management truly heard our concerns, urging us to try them again--and we are very glad that we did. Our second Seabourn cruise, the Athens-Dubai one in 2018 on the Encore, was great in all respects. In May 2019, we gave Regent a try. The Navigator, its oldest ship, took us to Europe in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We very much enjoyed that cruise--despite a little creaky, a well run ship providing excellent food and service in all respects. The excellent included shore excursions were a bonus. So, for our Dubai-Singapore trip, we ultimately decided to return to Regent, this time on the Voyager. I wish I could state that it was as good as our experience on Navigator, yet I cannot. Indeed, in some respects it was not even up to HAL standards of service. Our main concerns were with the food service and food quality. While food is subjective, it was not only us who found some of it over-salted and under-seasoned. That did improve somewhat. Yet instead of the "a la minute" type of food that we experienced on Navigator, where the food tasted fresh-cooked, on this ship it seemed to us to be more banquet-style of preparation. Side dishes often seemed to suffer from sitting under heat-lamps, revealing a lack of coordination and oversight in the kitchen, and between the kitchen and the various dining venues. For example, on one occasion while my steak was fine, the French fries were like match-sticks--dried out from sitting too long. On other occasions, the wrong side dish would be delivered, an item would be forgotten...it got to the point where we wondered if we could get through one meal without something going awry for either one of us. Service was lacking the competence, warmth, and friendliness that we usually have on other ships, including earlier this year on the Navigator. In addition to many servers simply ill-trained or inept, some were surprisingly robotic in their approach. This was in all dining venues, albeit thankfully there were notable exceptions. There were some (not enough) individuals who clearly took pride in providing excellent service, and were experienced wait-staff. We always appreciated being seated in their sections. Our general impression, and we were not alone in this, was that too many new and untrained food serving staff had been recently taken on--and it showed. The area supervisors were doing their best, but could not always keep up. We also wondered if the ship was somewhat short-staffed in actual servers, noting the often apparent lack of service and kitchen coordination. Yet at the price-point charged by Regent, I am not interested in why things were not up to standard. Rather, I simply expect better. Let alone the luxury cruise bracket (Regent, Seabourn) where we have experienced better, again, on our many HAL cruises service in the main dining room was consistently better than what we experienced this time on Voyager, with the inconsistent, "hit or miss" service at all meals, in all dining venues. Bar service and deck service was generally very good, with drinks expertly made and promptly delivered. The one exception was the Observation bar, where service was slow and rather inept, provided by table-servers who were, again, new and seemingly not properly trained. The liquor on offer was good, in that the premium, yet not luxury, brands were included. For example, Chivas Regal 12 year old scotch, or a good brand of gin such as Beefeater was included. Yet Sipsmith gin was not on the included list. If you wanted an 18 year single malt, that was an extra. As we flew to Dubai on Emirates airlines in business class, by comparison their included bar list is much more generous than is what is on offer by Regent. Deck staff by the pool were great--always coming by to offer you water (we were in very warm and humid regions so they did not want people dehydrating) or an "adult beverage". Our cabin steward and stewardess were excellent--always attentive and willing to help. Laundry service, for which one pays, was so-so. Despite my always noting on the card to use cool or cold water, more often than not hot water was used. Some of my items thus shrunk slightly. The Voyager, which has about 700 passengers if my memory is correct, only has one pool. On sea-days in warmer climates that pool gets very busy, with few loungers in the shade being available. By contrast, the Seabourn Encore, a comparable ship or even a tad smaller, with 600 guests, has two pools: one large one and on a lower deck a smaller plunge type of pool. That helps disperse folks so there is usually enough space for all who want to lounge by the pool. Shore excursions for the most part all left at or near the crack of dawn. Yet when I am on vacation, I do not like to get up at the same time as I would when going to the office! Not only Regent, but all cruise lines, should have some tours which depart mid-morning when the ship remains in port until later in the day. Not everyone wants to rush off the ship first thing in the morning. Clearing the ship in India was problematic, with our late clearance leaving some tours to be truncated. While the ship blamed the Indian authorities, it is well known that while the British invented bureaucracy, the Indian government perfected it. Thus, Regent should have practically built in a cushion on certain tour departures, to allow for port-related delays. That they did not is another example of poor organization or a lack of planning. Our verandah cabin was nicely laid out. Yet we could never get a stronger flow of air from the HVAC vents. Similarly, we could rarely get cool tap water--it was always warm or hot. Try brushing your teeth in warm to hot water--yech. The front desk staff, seemingly disinterested in our concerns, simply relayed a message that the engineering department could not do anything to remediate these situations. Ok then. Overall, the cruise should have been better than it was. We still had a nice holiday and saw some interesting places. We also met some lovely people with whom we dined or chummed around. The way Regent addressed our concerns has also left much to be desired. When I brought these issues to the attention of Regent, I was told how invaluable were my observations. Yet the idea of a future cruise credit, to incentivize us to return, was apparently beyond the pale. Moreover, while I wrote to the CEO, the response came from a non-executive in "guest relations". I contrast this with the seeming personalized response I received from the President of Seabourn after our first Seabourn cruise (which, in hindsight, was better than this Regent experience). Not only did I receive a detailed reply, we were incentivized to return to Seabourn--and are glad we did. Perhaps the lesson learned is that we should not have strayed to Regent? It seems that our business is not as valued by them.
  4. Just responding to UUNet Bill; if it had been one or two meals over the 20 day cruise which were a tad off, with all else up to standard, I would not have raised the issue. Unfortunately, it was more often than that. As I stated in my full review, there were some very good servers--unfortunately, they stood out (meaning that level of expected smooth competence was noticeable in comparison to others), and we could not always be seated in their section (as we did not always know what part of the Compass Rose they were working in).
  5. Thanks for the feedback. Indeed, I wish we had been lucky enough not to have had any dining service-related issues, as some did manage. It shows that everyone can have different experiences. Of interest, there is not only my less than stellar review on the Review section but a few others recently posted that noted problems with Voyager. I don't think its just us being overly picky, as others on board also had problems. But one can have a less than stellar cruise on any line, unfortunately (albeit the lines should strive to deliver all the time). It is what happens when this occurs. Another poster noted that Seabourn ignored their concerns, hence Seabourn lost their business. Rightly so. Things go wrong, complaints happen. It is what next happens that makes the difference. Companies that stand behind their product deserve more business. Ah well, "on to the next"...even a mediocre cruise is more fun than a good day at the office!
  6. Hello folks, now that that we are into "Boxing Day", after the busy holiday, I see that my review of our Voyager cruise has been posted on Cruise Critic. I have tried but am unable to link it here. It is the second review under the Voyager, if anyone cares to read it, as I provide more detail in that review. This was our second Regent experience. While we enjoyed our first experience, unfortunately, this second time around was not great. While our cabin steward/stewardess were fine, and the deck and bar service overall quite good, the food quality and food service, amongst other issues, was a real let-down. It seems that in Dubai the ship took on many new, and untrained or insufficiently trained, wait staff. There was often a disconnect between the kitchen and the servers. Not only us, but others dubbed this a "training cruise". Not wanting to get into "can you top this?", but a couple whom we met and dined with one night told us their story of dinner at Chartreuse. They went with another couple. Everyone got their appetizers and all was proceeding well. Then, three of four of them were served their main course. This one fellow, telling us the story, was not. It was discovered that his "ticket" had not been submitted. Yet his main course was not then rushed ahead. Rather, he had to sit and watch the other three eat, not only their main courses, but be served their desserts, before he finally got his meal. While we found the food in Chartreuse unexciting, and the service disjointed, happily, however, we never experienced anything like that! What we did experience were glitches with almost every meal, in almost every venue: a dish forgotten, something messed up (like a side dish), etc. It did get tiresome. What was particularly annoying was the way this was (not) addressed. We did note our dissatisfaction on board, and, after a meeting with the Chef and F & B Director (the General Manager was absent), the food did improve somewhat. The food service and other issues I note in my review did not. Thus, I wrote to the CEO (using the e-address that someone helpfully posted on cruisecritic). He never replied, rather having someone in "guest relations" fob me off. If a token future cruise credit had been offered, I would have been more willing to try them again. At least that would have shown some tangible recognition and acknowledgment that they messed up, and know they must do better in future. Yet my dissatisfaction and my future business appears to be unimportant to Regent. Happily, there are other options at this price-point.
  7. Always a great read, thanks for taking your time to do this. Looking forward to the “next chapter”, and Merry Christmas!
  8. Again, I beg to differ: As I thought I had quite clearly stated in my two prior posts, I have price-compared (per diem, all in, including air-fare) as I am very price-sensitive. Hopefully not exemplifying Oscar Wilde ("a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything yet the value of nothing"), yet I have compared prices. Again, not all the time, and not on all itineraries, but I have taken SB and RSSC cruises for roughly the same price as WS. I guess it depends on supply and demand for particular cruises and itineraries. Yet indeed, it can be done. I have done it. Given this real-world example, again my question is not to other cruisers or even to the learned host of this forum, but is (again, as I thought this was clear) to the visiting executive, Mr. Delaney: why should I try WS? Where is the value that you offer us potential customers? You already have your devotees. What do you intend to do to woo the rest of us?
  9. It appears that I kicked over a hornet's nest by simply asking the visiting executive guest a question. While I appreciate the perspective of the above two posters, if the line becomes more all-inclusive, yet roughly at the same price point, how does that interfere with their enjoyment of their cruise? As I noted, I can often find a cruise on Seabourn or even Regent (admittedly that is more challenging given the included business-class air and shore excursions) for about the same price as a cruise on Windstar. To return to the question of the first (original) poster, given that, what makes WS stand out? If I can have more inclusions for roughly the same costs, where is the "value-quotient" in WS? Convince me. As to whether WS is interested in moving to a more inclusive model, why ever not? Seabourn does not include shore excursions, while Regent does. Yet the excursions on those two lines are nothing like the large, "follow the flag/umbrella" gong-show on the mass-market lines. I have arranged my own shore excursions, through my excellent travel advisor, so have enjoyed many a private tour. Yet, the tours on our last two Regent cruises, small groups, were also excellent for the price paid (far less, obviously, than is a private tour). As for the included air-fare, or generous air-credit on Regent, this allows us to travel biz class to far-a-way destinations, knowing that (if we do the included air) our pick ups and drop offs are all taken care of. It is often a good value, as is the included top-shelf liquor, available both on Regent and on Seabourn. All I can say to the two other posters is, "don't knock it until you've tried it". For years my wife and I only cruised on one cruise line. We finally decided to branch out, and have enjoyed the different experiences and options. So, keep an open mind. I am certainly open to considering WS, but must be convinced the price-value quotient is present. It is also doubtful that I am the only potential customer who wants a more-inclusive model, and who dislikes signing chits. Happy cruising, on whatever model you prefer!
  10. To add to the above excellent question, for the price of a Windstar cruise I can often get the "small ship" experience on Seabourn or even Regent (at times), both of which lines are more all-inclusive. For me, the lack of always having to sign a chit, yet having high quality liquor/wines included, is a big plus. Would Windstar consider that model? Thanks for taking the time to respond to us avid cruisers.
  11. A reminder for timing: In Montreal (and Toronto and Vancouver), for those flying to the USA, you clear US INS right at the airport. After you check-in with your airline, you get a form and go to a sterile zone to be pre-cleared by US customs/INS agents. If you have Nexus, etc., then the process is of course expedited. Otherwise, the lines can be long, depending on time of day. So do allow yourself enough time to line up for check-in and/or baggage-drop with your airline, then to line up again to proceed through and be cleared by US authorities. Then, after security (yet one more line-up), you can go "duty free" shopping if desired, or head to your airline's lounge, or to your gate. The recommendation is to allow three hours from arrival at the airport to getting through all the various queues. From downtown Montreal to the airport can take about 45 minutes, much more at rush-hour. The benefit is that, having cleared customs in Montreal, you need not do it again upon arriving home.
  12. Very interesting thread and lots of inciteful comments. Re HLitner's post above, my wife and I are also 5 star on HAL. Yet lately we have branched out. We used to book a Neptune on HAL. On Seabourn, we book a verandah suite and, as Hank accurately writes, once one "does the math", Seabourn with its inclusive approach can be less expensive. Yet not to exclusively channel Oscar Wilde ("a cynic knows the price of everything but the value of nothing") , in addition to favourable pricing, the Seabourn experience was really quite positive--especially our second SB cruise. For cruises beginning our ending in far-away destinations, Regent, with its included air-fare (biz class when flying overseas) can make sense. We did our first Regent cruise last May and thoroughly enjoyed it--while we always liked the food on HAL, and liked it better on Seabourn, on Regent, we were truly blown away by the quality. To be fair, however, it is "ala minute" cooking for a far smaller crowd. The entertainment was also great, as was the general atmosphere and service. Regent also includes Shore X (there are a few optional-pay ones but most included). For a Caribbean cruise included shore excursions are not important. Yet when off to an exotic location, it is a bonus. When we add up what we would normally spend on HAL (even with the discount) on Shore X, dinners, drinks, wine, and other sundry items, as compared with a higher per diem yet far more inclusive approach on Regent and Seabourn, those two lines just currently seem to be a better fit for us. We do have a HAL cruise booked for next year, but given all the ongoing cut-backs of the experience we enjoyed, I suspect we will cancel it and book something else on one of the other two lines. We have fond memories of HAL, and hope to return at some point. Nice that there are choices out there for all. Yet, if one is flexible, one can get lucky and find "deals" on the higher end lines that make them worth a try.
  13. Re spa availability on day one, in my past experience the spa tours were over and the hot tub was available by or after 5PM. You can certainly inquire at spa reception after boarding.
  14. Hi Roz, thanks for your response, and for elaborating on the "issues" you had with your recent b-to-b cruises. My wife and I are five star with HAL, but our last cruise with them was in 2017, if memory serves. Since then we have cruised twice with Seabourn and once with Regent--and enjoyed them both (albeit our first SB cruise had some inconsistencies). It's comments like yours that make me wonder, "can we go home again?" (misquoting I think it was Thomas Wolf??). We have fond memories of our many HAL cruises. Yet I would not be happy to experience all those issues that you experienced. That is why, while we have a HAL cruise booked for next Spring, as we are within cancellation we are keeping all options open.
  15. Hi Frank (and Roz); I agree that a letter via postal mail will in many organizations go to "Customer Relations" with nothing much of substance by way of response. Yet what I was suggesting was using email to directly reach the executives, avoiding the corporate filters. In my past experience, HAL executives have been responsive. Conveniently, the other thread I noted, "luggage fail", which is now likely on page 3 or 4 or even more, had all relevant executive e-addresses noted. Finally, nowadays in many organizations, the executives delegates to his or her EA to be a proxy for and to read email addressed to the executive. That is not a bad thing as, often, the EA is empowered to resolve the problem, far more so than customer service. Yet I have learned that sending the email off-hours, on the weekend or evening (when the EA is usually off duty) makes it more likely that the executive will see the email personally--even if he/she has a more private e-address. Finally, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Making a reasoned complaint, in my experience (not only with HAL but generally), directed to the right people, has often led to improvement for all, as well as acknowledgment of and recompense (if warranted) for the problem/poor experience. Call it "enlightened self-interest". Good luck, if you choose to take the matter further. In any event, happy cruising!
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